Directed and starred by Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven is a legendary Western film released in 1992. It follows the story of a retired gunslinger, William Munny who was hired by another young gunslinger to kill two cowboys who mutilated a prostitute in the town of Big Whiskey of Wyoming during the 1880s. Taking his old partner, Munny headed killed the ruthless businessman and the sheriff who supported him along with the two cowboys and did justice to a woman who lost her way of living because of the scars they incurred on her face.
Unforgiven is considered one of the most impactful films of the western genre to receive widespread criticism and to win 4 Oscar Awards making it one of the best pictures. Starring Morgan Freeman (as) and Clint Eastwood Unforgiven’s box-office business of 159 million dollars and one of the 101 best films of 100 years I have been reviewing. Like The Godfather, it touches on the theme of justice meted out by the mafias when the vanguard of justice is corrupted or unmindful about.
The film digs deep into the exploration of violence, morality, and redemption set in the American West during the late 1800s. The story revolves around William Munny, a former outlaw, thief and killer, a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition, who is forced to return to his life of violence to collect a bounty on two cowboys who viciously attacked a prostitute. During his journey, he encounters a diverse cast of characters, including a young gunslinger and a corrupt sheriff, who test his beliefs and make him confront the aftermath of his actions.
Starring Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman, Unforgiven is one of the 100 greatest movies of the American Film Institute and the Library of Congress included it in 2004 to its Complete National Film Registry Listing. It is one of the 101 films that I have been reviewing.
In Bing Whiskey of Wyoming, a cowboy named Quick Mike slashed the face of a prostitute named Dalilah Fitzgerald in the establishment owned by a businessman named Skinny DuBois with a knife for laughing at his small penis, in 1881. The local Sheriff Little Bill ordered Mike and his partner, Dave, to bring seven horses to the owner of the brothel as retribution to damage of the property, that no man will sleep with a prostitute with a cut face.
Outraged, the five prostitutes arranged a $1,000 from among themselves for bounty for the cowboys’ deaths which Skinny and Little Bill found out. And a boatful gunslinger from Kansas name Schofield Kid showed up at William Munny’s farm seeking help for pursuing the cowboys who cut and left scars on Dalilah’s face. Being a former notorious outlaw and murderer, Munny decides to get back to his former business of killing, only this time because of his poverty and a woman who was victimised the cowboys. Leaving his two half-orphaned children, Munny collected his friend Ned Logan, another returned outlaw, and set off for the cowboys.
Back in Big Whiskey, Little Bill sent back the British-borne bounty hunter English Bob after brutally beating him. Bob was also after the bounty that Munny, Ned and Schofield were after. Though came with his biographer, he left alone while the biographer stayed back after realising Bob’s exaggerated stories. In the same way, Little Bill confronted feverish Munny alone inside the bat owned by Skinny and threw him after badly beating while Bill realised that Munny too was after the bounty.
But after recovering from his injury they killed Davey in an ambush and Schofield killed Mike while Munny was on his guard. In the meantime, Ned was arrested by the Sheriff’s men while heading home. But as they are about to leave with the bounty money delivered by Munny and learned that Ned was killed by Bill, he decided to finish his last job: killing Bill, Skinny and other corrupt officials.
That night, Munny walks in and sees Ned’s corpse displayed in a coffin outside Skinny’s saloon and first shot to kill Skinny. He then killed Little Bill at gunpoint and three of his deputies. Munny recovers Ned’s rifle and orders the bystanders to leave the saloon warning the townspeople that he will return if Ned is not buried properly or if any more of the prostitutes are harmed.
Munny came to kill the two Cowboys. But when he heard that his partner Ned was killed, he went back to kill the sheriff and the owner of the establishment. The five prostitutes of the establishment get out $1000 and hired William money, a former killer. Who had not been into the is upkeeping for 11 years. After finishing his job, he decided to go back to his home saying… you’d better cut no whores, or I will come back and kill every son of bitches.
What to Consider
Unforgiven is a heart-pumping, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat Western film that will keep you captivated till the very end. The film opens with a brutal scene, where a prostitute is viciously attacked in a small western town, setting the stage for a series of events that will change the course of everyone’s lives. Munny, who has long left his life of violence behind and thanks to his deceased wife, has been corrected, reluctantly takes on the bounty offer and sees it as a chance to provide a better life for his children.
Unforgiven imparts valuable lessons about the consequences of violence and the significance of individual freedom. The film showcases how violence can have long-lasting and far-reaching effects on the individual and those around them. It also portrays how prostitutes are usually treated by their clients during their “survival sex”. The prostitutes in Skinny’s brothel chose to avenge the mistreatment of Dalilah through gunslingers. They decided to offer bounty money for killing the cowboys who averted their due punishment because of a corrupt Sheriff.
Alice, the senior of the rest of the prostitutes, could not tolerate that they were not being treated as human beings and equalled with horses and property of the brothel that they have to endure anything that the people of authority would do. On the other hand, Munny considered them equal beings as humans and respected them for being who they were and chose to teach a lesson to their oppressors.
Many where in world the right to the people who sell “survival sex” face oppression and mistreatment as if they are inferior to their clients. According to statistics on prostitutes, there are 40-42 million prostitutes or sex workers across the world with more than 200,000 in Bangladesh alone. No matter where there are they must be treated as equal humans.
Unforgiven sheds light on how a man can be honest to his conscience when an opportunity of doing morally wrong things appears. When Delilah told Munny that the two other partners of him taking advance of the money by sleeping with the other two girls she asked him if he also wanted a free advance by sleeping with her, he refused the opportunity by remaining true to his dead wife.
He also cleared the fact that he does not want to consummate with her, not because of the scars on her face which she thought was the reason he declined the offer. He said he would rather sleep with her regardless of her scars than with other girls if it was not because of his dead wife.
Though a killer, we can see how Munny felt duty-bound towards the prostitutes in a world where—according to Little Bill—”It’s a strange world, ain’t it? A man gets killed and a woman gets beat and nobody gives a damn”, to free them and award with the justice. To avenge the mistreatment by their owner and the people who thought there are nothing but their party. Sometimes we have to forgive logic for its illogical stance on doing justice and perceive that only evil can eradicate the evil of the oppressed. Just as Scofield expressed, “It’s a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart.”
When the system of Justice of a state is corrupted systemic begets more corruption and violence. But still, some acts of violence are expected to redeem the inferior being who are subjected to mistreatment and oppression by the powerful. Nevertheless, some assassins the violent man and killer Munny turned out to be a saviour of the victims of injustice.
Someone says the violent act is repaid by violence. When Little Bill encountered his death and said that he doesn’t deserve to die that way, Munny replied it has nothing to do with the deserving. Yet, Munny knew what a killer like him can incur to his victim. He says, “It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. You take away everything he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.”
These quotes showcase the film’s themes of violence, morality, and redemption, as well as its exploration of the complexities of human nature. They also provide a glimpse into the characters and their motivations, making the film even more thought-provoking and impactful.
Unforgiven has been subjected to various interpretations and analyses over the years, but one common thread that runs through them all is the film’s critique of the Western genre. The film defies many Western genre conventions, including the portrayal of violence and the notion of the “heroic gunslinger.” Instead, it presents a nuanced and complex view of violence and morality, pushing audiences to re-evaluate their perceptions of the Western genre and their own beliefs about the world.
Nearly three decades after its release, Unforgiven remains a relevant and impactful film that shouldn’t be missed. With its exceptional acting, breathtaking cinematography, and haunting score, “Unforgiven” is a must-watch for Western fans and anyone seeking a thought-provoking and emotionally charged film. Whether you’re a die-hard Clint Eastwood fan or just searching for a classic film, Unforgiven will linger in your mind long after the credits have rolled.