Director: Clint Eastwood
Running time: 131 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15
UK Release date: 18th September 1992
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd July 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
As those who have read my stuff before will know, I’m not really big on Westerns; I guess I watched too many of them when I was growing up (they were just about the only films on TV). The Spaghetti Westerns peeked my interest for a while, but there have been very few in recent years that have caught my curiosity. This, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. This is one of the few that I could watch several times over and still get something out of. Clint Eastwood really knows how to tell a story; I suppose while working with the likes of Sergio Leone, something had to rub off. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
When a whore is cut up by a couple of ranch hands and the local law, Little Bill Daggett, does little or nothing a bout it, the other whores pool their resources in order to get retribution. Word is put out that a bounty of One Thousand Dollars has been put up for the lives of the two perpetrators. A young man calling himself The ‘Schofield Kid’ hears about it but decides he might need some help. He calls on Bill Munny, a former gunfighter and asks him to come out of retirement. Bill is a reformed character, having married and raised a family, but with his wife recently deceased, he is tempted. He sends the kid on his way, but can’t help thinking about it. Eventually he decides to follow and leaves his children to fend for themselves while he’s away. He calls on his old partner, Ned Logan, and persuades him to join them. Meanwhile, back in the town, another gunslinger, English Bob, arrives and is given short shrift by Little Bill, who makes an example of him and sends him on his way. The trio finally arrive in town with Munny suffering from a fever. He is badly beaten up by Little Bill but not before the other two make contact with the whores. They manage to find a hideout where Munny can recover. The question is, will they still have the stomach to do what they came for? I’ll leave it there as I’m sure there are many out there that haven’t seen this and I don’t want a show-down with the spoiler police in my local saloon.
As with many Eastwood-directed films, this has quite a slow and deliberate pace, but it is always interesting. I love the way he allows the story to evolve. As usual, an excellent performance from Clint Eastwood himself as Bill Munny. Also great were Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett, Morgan Freeman as Ned Logan and Richard Harris as English Bob… but why they picked an Irish actor for the part I’ll never know! Also worthy of note was Jaimz Woolvett as The ‘Schofield Kid’.
As I’ve already said, the storytelling is excellent and the characters are interesting and hold your attention. I get the impression they were looking for realism in the look of this picture and it does look like what I imagine the Wild West really was like. I just wish they had made the interior shots a little brighter, much of the action takes place at night or indoors and you can believe they are shooting by candle-light in some scenes, it’s so dark! This is the thing that let this one down for me, I was struggling to see who was shooting who in some situations. But that aside, it’s a very fine piece of work and fully deserved it’s 4 Oscars (including best picture) and five other Oscar nominations. This one comes highly RECOMMENDED.
My Score: 8.7/10
IMDb Score: 8.3/10 (116,751 votes when this review was written)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96/100 (56 reviews counted when this review was written)
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0105695/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1041911-unforgiven/