In the 1992 film Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood stars, directs and produces a violent, gruesome tale set in the Wild West. Eastwood plays William Munny, a former notorious killer who stopped his rough lifestyle to be a husband and father. At the beginning of the film a man is shown slashing a hooker with a knife while another holds her down. The two men are let off with little punishment, only having to give the prostitute horses as payment. A group of prostitutes want retribution for the crime, and offer $1,000 to whoever kills the men. Meanwhile, Munny is working as a poor, struggling pig farmer when a young and arrogant man shows up to explain the bounty being offered. Munny declines at first, but then changes his mind, because he knows the money will greatly help his children. The two men are joined by Ned Logan, played by Morgan Freemen, and the search is on. The ensuing chase for the men includes action, brutality, and lengthy discussions of "what it is to kill a man".
I believe the setting is the most crucial aspect of the movie. The mythical West is depicted as full of outlaws, harsh justice, and over-indulgent shariffs. The film did an exellent job of conveying scenic and atmospheric realism using; nature, horses, cowboy hats, pistols, southern accents, and actors' apparel. When Clint Eastwood is first shown, he is tending to his hogs, very isolated from society. The connection with nature is very evident, as Eastwood's character rides across the country with a sense of complete freedom. The time of year seemed to reflect the emotions of the actors. When the men are riding free with their spirits high, the weather is breezy and sunny. When Eastwood is beaten, sick, and with low spirits, the ground is covered with snow and the setting is desolate winter.
Another myth of the West that Unforgiven displayed was the idea that people handled problems with violence and guns. The shariff, Bill Daggett (played by Gene Hackman), goes to any extreme to have what he calls order in his town. Just as in the mythical West, he settles matters with guns and intimidation. This idea of a small town being practically dictated by those in power in seen in many Western films, and they are usually overthrown by the protagonist.
Clint Eastwood is a natural for Western films. He has the presence of a true cowboy on screen. Eastwood is amazing at playing the lonely hero that saves the day, and did not disappoint in Unforgiven. Gene Hackman also had a very well acted part as the Shariff. He relished as a sarcastic, controlling authoritarian that "allowed no guns in his town". The spendid acting of these two men made the movie an instant classic in my opinion.