Analysis of the Unforgiven

Topics: Clint Eastwood, Unforgiven, Gene Hackman Pages: 7 (2908 words) Published: April 12, 2010
Analysis of Unforgiven
Brenda J. Thompson
ENG 225: Introduction to Film

Nathaniel Millard

October 5, 2009


While the movie Unforgiven (1992) directed and starring Clint Eastwood, as William Munny, is in the genre of a western in the late 1800’s. It has a basic theme that we are still making movies about today, justice and what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in our search for it. It is a story of a journey that one man has to make in order for him to care for his children but it ends up being so much more of a journey than he anticipates. This movie is the ultimate of good versus evil on a couple of different levels. It is good guy versus bad guy and it is the evil within fighting the good within and the constant battles that both of these different levels bring to the main character and the other characters of this film. Does justice prevail in this film? Level of Ambition

This movie’s level of ambition was that of a typical Clint Eastwood film, straightforward, deep and controversial. Clint Eastwood is known through his characters as the hard, smart talking, no nonsense, afraid of nothing type casted actor and so his films that are directed by him bring a whole new level to that type of character. He brings the softer side to these characters that we do not expect to see. He reveals the inner dilemma within his character to show that just because someone has done some really horrible things in their lives that does not mean that they do not have internal struggles between what is right and what is wrong. The consciousness of the guilt, the validation, and the justification of what he is doing, eats at him and his inner struggles that come with knowing what he has done but seems to diminish over the length of the movie. It seems to get easier for him to accept what needs to be done and just does it even though he no longer wants to do it. Thematic Elements

The central idea of this film is injustice and what can happen when an injustice is made right in the eye of the beholder. This movie had hit on several different perspectives regarding its focus and was dependent upon which character it was highlighting at the time. One of those perspectives being from that of the main character William and his constant battle within himself to stay true to his goodness and not to allow the old evil side out. Another perspective is that of the working women who just want to be respected and not feel as though they are personal property. The Sheriff, Little Bill, who was played by Gene Hackman had of course another perspective on the whole situation which was to play off the entire ordeal by fining the two culprits instead of arresting them. With that being said, this film covered several categories regarding a central idea and subordinate ideas. Although I found injustice to be the central idea, I also felt that there were other categories that were touched on. Truth of human nature (Boggs & Petrie, 2008, pg. 26) and how even though this took place in 1880 you could still feel the injustice today and feel those feelings that were portrayed by the characters wanting to make this right although not all the characters wanted to make it right for the same reasons. The social problems that were in this film, which were the crimes against women, social acceptance and the draw that money has always and forever will have on us as a society are still prevalent today therefore we can understand and appreciate what is happening. We know now as a society that we cannot take the law into our own hands but in 1880 it was prevalent and more acceptable therefore we can relate as maybe we wish he could sometimes take the law into our own hands and make an injustice right when one has been wronged. Setting and Set Design

The filming took place in the wilderness of Alberta, Canada and one scene (the train scene) in California. The majority of the scenes were either out in the...

References: Boggs, J., & Petrie, D. (2008). The Art of Watching Films (7th Ed.) with tutorial CD-ROM. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield. ISBN: 9780077282301 
Peoples, D. W. & Eastwood, C. (Writer/Director). (1992). Unforgiven [Motion Picture]. Hollywood:
Warner Bros. Pictures
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