28th August 2012

Twenty Years of Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven'

Most Westerns have a heroic story to tell. Unforgiven has no heroes, and this is not a heroic film—it is a tragic one.

By Matthew Floratis  |  Aug. 28, 2012 as published on Screened.

Unforgiven feels like a capstone to all manner of things. One could, for instance, mistake this for Clint Eastwood’s last film, because it is so autumnal in tone, and because it feels as if Eastwood intended this as his grand farewell letter to filmmaking. Of course, it’s nothing of the sort; Eastwood continues to successfully direct and star in movies (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby), though in a curious way, one could almost make the argument that Unforgiven was his last ‘traditional Eastwood’ movie, and certainly his last ‘traditional’ Western. Released in 1992, at a time when Westerns were experiencing a steep decline in popularity—a decline that apparently continues to the present day—Unforgiven felt as if Eastwood was walking toward the sunset with his hand raised, waving us goodbye. Naturally, it wasn’t the end of him nor the end of Westerns, though if Unforgiven were the end... well, it would certainly be a terrific note to go out on...


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