SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 27th July 2009

The Unforgiven


It had to happen. First there was the feminist action film—‘Aliens’. Then there was the feminist road movie—‘Thelma and Louise’. It was only a matter of time before the first feminist Western. But who would have thought it would be directed by Clint Eastwood?

The Unforgiven (15) begins with a brutal knife attack on a defenceless prostitute, a crime which forms the moral focal point of the film. Everyone connected with this act—not just the knifeman—has to be punished. Even an innocent bystander is gunned down—for no other reason than failing to intervene to prevent it.

Eastwood plays William Munny, a hellraiser reformed by the love of a good woman, who reluctantly comes out of retirement to avenge the attack on the whore. The whole tone of ‘The Unforgiven’ is anti-macho: the voilence, when it comes, is shot in an explicit, totally unglamourous way.

But it would be too easy to criticise Eastwood for having made a politically correct Western. There is so much to enjoy in ‘The Unforgiven’ that it’s possible to forgive its trendy, simple-minded morality.

Eastwood has aged cinematically—his once beautiful face has been whipped and beaten into a mask of suffering, leaving him with a pinched, almost pitiful, vulnerability. In the process he has been transformed from an icon into an actor.

Gene Hackman is always better when he’s playing sleazy characters and he brings a twisted rightousness to Little Bill, the corrupt sherrif of Big Whiskey. Morgan Freeman is less impressive as Ned, Eastwood’s old partner, but he is such a dignified actor he brings authority to whatever he does. Even Richard Harris turns in a respectable performance as English Bob, a cadaverous gunman exposed as a fraud.

But it is Eastwood the director who is the real star of this film. In ‘Magnum Force’ Eastwood reproves Hal Holbrook for having too high an estimation of his own abilities: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Eastwood the director has got to know his limitations.

There’s nothing flashy about ‘The Unforgiven’—it’s a beautifully crafted picture, slow without being boring. Its stately pace speaks of a confidence which his work has lacked until now. Eastwood has been reaching for this mythic, elegiac quality ever since ‘The Outlaw Josey Wales’ and in ‘The Unforgiven’ he’s finally achieved it.

The Mail on Sunday, September 20, 1992

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter RT @afneil: Well I’ve never seen a penny of this. And until I do I’ll just keep holding of the feet of Remainers and Leavers to the fire. h…  (3 minutes ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski - the-american-interest.com
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony - jerusalemletters.com
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller - quillette.com
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand - newyorker.com
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge - economist.com
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell - city-journal.org
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander - prospectmagazine.co.uk
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell - quillette.com
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff - newsweek.com
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings - dominiccummings.wordpress.com
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew - politico.com
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus - claremont.org
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman - theguardian.com
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer - conservativehome.com
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film