January 17th, 2021
Clint Eastwood - Unforgiven (1992)
I'm a big fan of the western genre! Unforgiven was made at the time when westerns were pretty unpopular, but had again gained traction due the "Dances With Wolves", the Kevin Costner film that had won multiple Academy Awards (but has aged horribly since then). For Clint Eastwood, it was a return to familiar turf, having starred in many acclaimed westerns in the 60s and 70s.
The character he portrays, William Munny, is a direct reference to his previous work - an aged outlaw, who has since repented his murderous past, mainly due to the loving influence of his now deceased wife, whose story bookmarks the film. The struggle between these two aspects of his life is the main arch of the film, enhanced by the supporting characters like the wanna-be kid outlaw or his former partner (played by Morgan Freeman).
But the main antagonist is the sadistic sheriff Little Bill, played by Gene Hackman, who resorts to extreme violence in order to keep peace in the little town of Big Whiskey. His abuse of power by constantly placing himself above the law is a stark contrast to the conflicted outlaw. While the sheriff is utterly addicted to power, the outlaw is constantly trying to resist temptation, walking the thin line that sets him apart from his immoral counterpart.
The climax is an intense clash between these two forces, where the boundaries between good and evil blend into a foggy mix. It's a great example for a revisionist western, and one of my genre favourites.