Unforgiven (1992): Clint Eastwood's Tribute to Leone, Siegel and the Old West

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

unforgiven, western, directed by clint eastwood, 1992
Unforgiven (1992) - By Clint Eastwood
Our Rating: 9.0
IMDb Ratings: 8.3
Genre: Drama | Western
CastClint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman
Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 131 min
Color: Color (Technicolor)

Unforgiven a 1992 Oscar-winning Western produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. Unforgiven is Clint Eastwood's tribute to his mentors, Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. Regarded by many as the last true Western, Unforgiven truly consummates the Western genre, a genre illuminated by the greats like John Ford, John Wayne, Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, and Clint Eastwood himself. Unforgiven not only revived Eastwood's career as an actor, but also testified his directorial credentials. Unforgiven doesn't embody righteousness, but projects domination based on ruthless opportunism. Unforgiven depicts a clash of egos, a battle of wits between two supreme caricatures, William Munny and Little Bill, brilliantly portrayed by Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman, respectively—each ubiquitously acclaimed for his idiosyncratic style and delivery. 

Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman in Unforgiven
Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman in Unforgiven
The movie’s protagonists are deeply convoluted, grey-shaded characters who are not bounded by the tenets of virtue or vice.  Little Bill Daggett, the tough, autocratic Sheriff of the town called Big Whisky, is totally committed to keeping peace in the town, even at the cost of freedom and justice. He is not averse to crossing the limits of morality, in the name of law, so as to keep things under his absolute control. William Munny, once a personification of pillage and slaughter in the Old West, is an aging farmer bereft by the untimely loss of his wife who was the reason behind his reformation. Munny, drained by solitude and the hardships of a mediocre existence, decides to undertake one last task as a Bounty Hunter that brings him to the town of Big Whisky, where he is accompanied by his old partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman). What ensues is an epic encounter that obscures the fine lines that separate good from evil, man from myth.  

Clint Eastwood as Will Munny in Unforgiven
Clint Eastwood as Will Munny in Unforgiven
Sergio Leone's ubiquitously renowned ‘Dollars Trilogy’, starring Clint Eastwood as ‘Man With No Name’, single-handedly changed the very face of the Western genre. A genre that was driven by pride, honor, chivalry and machismo, being limited to the realm of black, white, virtue, and vice, soon got transformed into a more real and brutal terrain governed by real-life, grey shaded characters, primarily driven by greed and lust, but not completely devoid of human virtues. Leone’s exploits sowed the seeds for development of a new stream in Western film-making, which served to be an intermediate between the old Western style and Leone's Spaghetti style. The early signs of this momentous transformation were most apparent in Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969). This new style was later picked up by Clint Eastwood who developed it further to suit his own style. In the '70s and the '80s, Eastwood made a handful of Westerns like The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) and Pale Rider (1985) that further propagated this style. Eastwood offered his official farewell to the Western genre by making his epic masterpiece, Unforgiven (1992) for which he also won the Best Director and Best Picture Oscars.   

Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven
Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven
The two scenes that Eastwood and Hackman share in the movie are absolutely magical and serve as the exact antithesis of each other, thus presenting them both with the opportunity to display their tremendous versatility as performers par-excellence. The first encounter between William Munny (Eastwood) and Little Bill (Hackman) portrays Munny at his most vulnerable, pitted against a brutally dominant and ruthless Bill. The second encounter, which also happens to be the movie’s finale, is a completely different affair with the merciless Munny calling the shots against a helpless Bill. The climactic scene, being starkly unforgiving, immensely adds to the brilliance and power of the movie.

Richard Harris as English Bob in Unforgiven
Richard Harris as English Bob in Unforgiven (Right)
There are other scenes in the movie that are equally brilliant, especially the one that presents the chilling encounter between English Bob (Richard Harris) and Little Bill. The entire cast performs really well with a special mention of Morgan Freeman as Ned Logan. Unforgiven’s breathtaking cinematography is highly reminiscent of the old Spaghetti days. Unforgiven is undoubtedly a quintessential Western and a must-watch for the fans of the genre and also those who want to acquaint themselves with it.

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

For more information on the title, please click on the following links:

The Unforgiven Trailer

Previous ReviewThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Next ReviewAarakshan (2011)

Recommended readingOnce Upon a Time in the West (1968) 

Complete List of Reviews

People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


  1. Great Movie... nice review!

  2. My another favorite movie of Clint Eastwood and the western genre. Unforgiven has the excellent cast. I especially like the climax, where Eastwood confronts Gene Hackman. Ur review does justice to this movie.

    1. Indeed... thanks a lot, Arun for sharing your valuable opinion!

  3. Brilliant Review For a Must Watch Film......

  4. Thanks a ton, Ragesh! Unforgiven is indeed brilliant and a must watch not only for the fans of Western Genre but for every movie lover!!! :-P

  5. My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was
    totally right. This post truly made my day. You can not imagine simply how much time
    I had spent for this info! Thanks!

    Also visit my weblog Louis Vuitton Outlet

  6. This is not a "tribute" to the Western movies but more of an anti-western. The jingoistic and masochistic shenanigans of Wayne era Westerns has been deliberately turned to realism. The film, through it's characters talks about the death of the genre brings it's often absent moral questions into sharp focus.

  7. Well... you have raised some quite valid points about the movie. The kind of realism that the movie seems to depict obviously came into being in the movies of Hawks and Ford--albeit mostly in its abstract forms of chivalry and machismo. While I agree that it's kind of an Anti-Western, but it is also a tribute to genre in many ways.

  8. I watch this movie this is very nice you can watch here more movie: full-movie24.com


Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.