Unforgiven (1992)- Clint Eastwood
Such an amazing film, the opening shot is just perfect, a man reflecting on his time coming to an end, almost representing the end of the western era, where men who were outlaws want to settle down and put their dark pasts behind them, and the two men that are representative of this change are William Munny and Little Bill Daggett. Both are fascinating characters played to perfection by Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman, Bill Munny acknowledges for what he was as a man who has commited sin, yet Little Bill believes somewhat creates an odd morality inside himself believing that everything he does is percieved as right even the darker violence he bestows on the community of Big Whisky. Both seem to feel that they can seamlessly blend into civilisation by running a pig farm and building a house doing what 'normal' people would do, yet they both remain haunted and are unable to transcend the violence that elevated their status. In the end they are forced to acknowledge who they are and where they are both headed.
Eastwood gives one of his finest performances, perfectly capturing a man who is consumed with guilt yet who is still able to realistically transform into the avenging figure that gave fame to so many of his iconic characters, yet fully acknowledging that the audience would not cheer him this time round, yet feel saddened that he slipped back into his old ways. All of these facets are perfectly captured by Eastwood. Hackman is astonishing, and gives arguably the films most complex performance. If Hackman had played the character as a one note brutal thug then the characterisations would have been simplistic and it would have been easy for us to cheer Eastwood, but Hackman unexpectedly gives Little Bill some depth and humanity that when the film concludes we are left debating who was right, as opposed to being content with Eastwood winning. In addition his performance brilliantly corresponds to the themes of the film, particularly the opening of scene in the picture in the sense that iron fist was essential in the days of outlaws, but those days are setting like the sun at the picture’s opening sequence, and Bill cannot adjust. Freeman provides some excellent support as Ned, Eastwood's friend, in addition to terrific work by Frances Fischer, and Richard Harris, as the arrogant English Bob.
Eastwood's direction is just spot on, expansive shots of landscape that are common within Westerns are exchanged for dark composition and bleak shots that capture haunting figures and faces that tell a thousand stories, thanks to the brilliant work of Cinematographer Jack Green. What suprises me about this film is how every death seemed to resonate and have such emotional weight to it. I liked how Eastwood captures the true effects of violence and the results that haunt in its aftermath. In addition he also breaks down the West into what it really is, using the assistance of English Bob and the Novelist, in their scenes with Little Bill, where a casual conversation suddendly transitions into a dark tale about cowardice, and Little Bill reveals the West to be a violent place, where you won based on keeping your cool.
Just an oustanding achievement all round, and Eastwood's best film that deservedly won its Oscars. 10/10