October 25, 2013

Unforgiven seems like a simple film, but it’s also a puzzle.  Much of it shows all the stories of the Old West to be lies.  But then Clint Eastwood’s character, Will Munny, after saying he’s done with killing and will honor his late wife’s memory, kills a room full of people without getting scratched even though they all have guns.  And we’re left with the question of why his wife fell in love with someone who was a mass murderer.  What are we supposed to think?  Why would Eastwood (also the director and writer) give us these questions?  What did you think of his character and of the movie?



  1. I don’t have many ideas about the character of William Munny — there wasn’t enough information about his background for me to speculate. However, while taking notes on sound, I noticed that Clint Eastwood tended to use very loud background sound, and very little non-diegetic sound. In many scenes, there was a very loud rainstorm in the background, and I think the rain almost always loudest on the left speakers (left when facing the projector screen). I could tell that the storms were carefully constructed, because the thunder never cracked during important dialogue — it occurred between the pauses in conversation. I’m not entirely sure the purpose of such loud background noises, but I think that in the case of some of the gunshots, the loud noise serves to startle the audience in an authentic way — the characters must have been startled by these noises as well; the volume was realistic.

  2. Will throughout the movie kept saying he wasn’t a killer and has left that life behind etc. etc. but still he chose to go on this journey in the first place to kill two people. I feel like it really shows how he is kind of having an inner battle with himself. He justifies going on the journey to kill these two people because he is “doing it for his kids” and to “avenge the woman who got cut up.” Morgan freeman’s character seemed at first to be more in it for the money but then when I came time to shoot the one cowboy he froze up and then backed out of the entire mission while Will finished the job. Even the young boy who was with them, after he killed the second cowboy he had so much remorse he gave Will his gun and said he would never kill. While Will, after the two cowboys were dead, went and killed everyone in the whore house. Will also the whole time said when he was like that he would be drinking and now he “doesn’t touch the stuff” but at the end when the girl on the horse told him that is friend was dead he took the bottle of alcohol and finished it off. It is almost like he slipped back into temptation and by the end of the movie he was the same guy he was in the past. I think that his wife maybe was the person to bring him out of that bad phase in his life and when he started a family he swore to leave all of those things behind him and be a better man. But now that he was in need of money and his wife was dead it was much easier for him to slip back into old patterns. I think Will is a good person in general but he just slipped into bad habits and temptation which made him the killing machine at the end of the movie.

  3. William Munny was a very complex character in the fact that he deals with self doubt throughout the film and keeps referencing his late wife as inspiration or as an excuse not to do things. He says he quit drinking and killing and yet, when he finds out his partner has been killed he starts drinking, then he goes in to town and starts firing away at the people responsible for the death. In my opinion he needed a reason to turn back to his old ways, and that was the money he would receive for killing the men and how it would support his children. I think the story of his wife is important to the film because it shows that deep down some people find the good in others, no matter how bad or evil they may be that there will always be good in people. I think that the movie is one of the greatest films of the decade, Eastwood knows how to provoke emotion from an audience and he does it so well throughout the film. William Munny is an extraordinarily complex character as he fights deep down with himself knowing that killing is bad but then he needs it to support his family. It is truly one of the best Westerns and Films of all time.

  4. I found the movie to be interesting. I feel that we are suppost to see Clint Eastwood wante to present us with the many sides people have. Will Muney has had a troubling past. Even though he has these flaws he still can have a part of him that can love others such as his wife. I feel as though he would have stopped killing men, women, and children once he found his wife and settled down to have a family. When he is in the saloon, he has just lost his friend, and with this new loss he feels as though he has nothing else to loose. I feel like his character was someone who needed support.

  5. I thought that Clint Eastwood constructed William Munny as a way to show what the characters of all the old westerns might have turned out to be like if we could see them after all the action. At the same time however it seems as though he wanted to show that no matter what life that the gun slingers may lead they will only truly be good at one thing, killing. we see this with Little Bill as well, he couldn’t build his house without a leaking roof but he could still beat up people very easily. even in English Bob the character was going after the bounty for the two farmers, if he was such a great gun slinger and killed all these men than couldn’t he have had enough money to stop? it would appear as though that’s all he know how to do, this is speculation though. Clint could have us asking these questions to question Westerns and the characters in them.

  6. In those days it was more of an acceptable life style, and somehow still today, women sometimes fall for the bad guys. I also feel that with Will Munny being so tough and deadly, it gave his wife a good sense of protection, and in those dangerous days she wouldn’t have much to worry about. This time around he was killing for “the greater good” to provide for his and his wife’s children. He was also killing for his friend who was wrongly killed for what he did. I think that Clint Eastwood was trying to show us that there are bad people in the world, and there is always someone out there that is going to worse, and that there is always a choice to do good in the world. At first I thought William Munny seemed kind of wimpy, which was intentional to show that he hasn’t been in the killing business for a while. Towards the end of the film however he lived up to his name. I’ve never been much for Westerns, but I enjoyed this movie.

  7. There are many facets to people. Will is showing how we may or may or may not react to situations untill we are in them. He showed a great love and respect toward his wife by changing his actions and relizing there are deeper problems she accepted and loved him for his best. Will also showed a great love for his friend when realizing the dishouner done to him by public spectical, thus drinking, knowing what he will do.Who can say if this is true or not, stranger things happen all the time. I love westerns and the fortatude they present against odds. Also notice, Will restarted his life yet again with his kids in a new place,likely a new name and a rather “dull” bussiness. The west was and is filled with these people.

  8. To me, the idea of Clint Eastwood’s character is almost like you can take the dog out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the dog. No matter how much he says he “isn’t that same person” anymore, when put back into similar situations that he was once in, he reverts back to his old ways. I believe this point still rings true in today’s world. There are so many examples of people that go to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse and will tell everyone that will listen how much they have changed, but there is no way of really knowing into they are put back in similar situations that they were once in but are now forced to say yes or no. I think the reason to why Eastwood leaves us with these questions is because it seems like such a simple movie. On the surface it seems simple, so Eastwood leaves you with these questions to force you to think and therefore expand the complexity of the film. I thoroughly enjoyed Eastwood’s character as I am always of fan of the quiet, laid back, ass kicker character that seems to be popular in a lot of films.

  9. I think that one idea of the film is to learn the true story for any one individual. For example, the fact that the traditional assumptions about western stories are refuted by the Sheriff suggests that we are often told lies or stretches of the truth to create a particular image of a person. However, as the biographer learns, each story has a different side than the one we are presented with. The film opens by telling us that Will’s wife’s mother couldn’t understand why her daughter married such a monster. Then we are presented with the narrative that shows us Will’s personality before ending with the reminder that the mother still couldn’t understand the reason for her daughter’s marriage. The entire film is a series of the other side of the story. The reason that Eastwood would give us these questions is to make us as the audience want to understand the other side of the story and remember that every story has two sides. It is a fact too often forgotten in film and literature today, in my opinion. I really liked the character of Will. To me, he represents the person combating a piece of their own personality because of someone else’s influence. Someone meant something to him and drove him to believe he could be better, but in the end, he reverted back to his old ways because of someone else that was important to him. Will demonstrates the importance of other people in our lives and their influence on how we conduct ourselves. I also really enjoyed the film. I liked how most of the plot elements went against the traditional western concept (as I don’t particularly enjoy traditional westerns). I also liked how complicated the characters were and how, as I mentioned above, you were sympathizing with the villain of the traditional story (Will) because the other side of the story was being shown.

  10. Personally, I don’t usually tend to enjoy westerns very much, but I thoroughly enjoyed Unforgiven. I liked the fact that it strayed from the narrative direction that westerns usually take. All throughout the movie William Munny was clearly a changed person from the wild, ruthless criminal that everyone keeps referring to from his earlier years. This being the case, for most of the movie, he appears and acts docile, and his skills at horseback riding and shooting are very apparently rusty. Then at the end, in contrast to his docile actions throughout the whole movie, he takes down Sheriff Little Bill and most of his men with very little effort, as though his old ways came back to him all of a sudden. I think that although he rediscovered his old skills from his days as a “bad guy,” in the end he is still the same gentle man that we see throughout the movie. The reason he gave in to his old violent tendencies in the end was to try to obtain some justice for his innocent long-time friend, who Little Bill and his men had wrongly killed and set out to make an example for their town. William knew it was his fault that Ned was with him on that mission to begin with, and in the end Ned couldn’t even go through with killing the bad cowboys, and decided to leave and return home, before he got intercepted by Little Bill’s men. So I think that William felt responsible for Ned’s death, which really hurt him, so he took down Little Bill and his men to try and defend Ned’s honor. His intentions were good, and for this reason I think in the end he is still the good-hearted man that his late wife helped him to become. I don’t think he harmed the honor to his wife’s memory by defending the honor of his friend.
    When it comes to the issue of how his wife fell in love with such a horrible man to begin with, I think that the answer may be a combination of her strong character and that maybe William wasn’t all that bad to begin with. I think that it must really say something about the strength of her character to be able to accept and love a man who has such a dark history, as well as to be able to influence him to turn over a new leaf, so that he remained faithful to that long after she had passed. And I think the fact that William was able to accept her love and change for her shows that he wasn’t all bad to begin with.

  11. At the beginning of the film, Will seemed like the loving, caring father of his two children. You could definitey tell he missed his wife. When it was discovered that he was actually a serial killer in the past, his personality didn’t seem to match that. Whenever he firsts sets on his mission ti kill the cowboys, his skills appear a little rusy; he can barely get on the horse and he doesn’t have the same aim as he seemed to have. However, when his friend is murdered, his skills seem to reappear, most likely because he wants vengeance. From Clint Eastwood’s character, I feel that once he was married and settled into a family he stopped his old ways. However, when his friend was murdered and displayed in front of the town, he maintained the loyalty to his friend and wanted to get revenge.

  12. I think that the movie itself shows that people have the ability to change, and their opinions in an instant. For the entire movie, up until the reveal that Will committed as many murders as he did at the end, it was entirely believable that he could fall in love with somebody and have it work out. However, in the end, with one sentence, this entire understanding seems to have fallen away. In fact, for most of the movie, we are lead to believe that Will is the ultimate good guy in the film, but we are ultimately lead to believe that perhaps, he wasn’t as good as we thought. Personally, I was sure that the ultimate bad guy in the film would be Little Bill, or Bob, but neither of them ever really did anything that was truly evil. Really, this movie surprised me in a number of ways. Almost everything that I thought was going to happen didn’t, and it never took the easy way out of any situation. It makes for good writing and leaves a the audience wondering what it means to be the “good guy” and what it means to be the “Bad guy”. How she fell in love with him doesn’t really matter, but in the story it happened. It showed that similarly to the audience, the wife had the perception that Will was a good guy, and perhaps his past was never fully revealed to her before she died. It really is a great movie that breaks away from all of the conventions of the Western genre of film.

  13. I liked the movie because it was a more realistic spin on westerns that did not seem cheesy. I enjoyed Eastwood’s character because he was not a misogynistic jerk like most men in westerns. He had morals and I don’t feel that he lost them at the end when he killed that room full of men, I simply feel that his one good friend had been killed because of him and he had to avenge him. I believe his wife was able to see the good in him even when he could not and that is why she was able to fall in love with him. I feel that we are supposed to think that people can change but it takes constant discipline and people who have changed can still experience lapses in their discipline. Maybe he gave us these questions to break normal forms of westerns.

  14. I think Eastwood presented the characters and their actions the way he did to create a more interesting narrative. In my mind, a sign of a good movie is how much discussion it can inspire after it’s over. Unforgiven certainly does that with all of the questions it presents to the audience. William Munney is a character with a lot of depth. He talks about how he had a life as a murderous criminal but found redemption through a woman he loved. But he doesn’t think twice about killing a room full of people when he finds out Ned was killed. This makes Munney an interesting contrast to all the other characters in the film who claim to be more of a badass than they actually are.

  15. In this film, William Munny was a very diverse character who made you ask a lot of questions about his life prior to the plot of he movie. How did a man who easily murdered a room full of people without batting an eye but give up that kind of life for his wife and children? I believe his wife got him away from drinking which he talked about being his major problem in life. He didn’t move on to full blown killer mode until he found out that little Bill killed Ned and Will began slugging the whiskey and went into town. Deep down I think Will’s intentions were nothing but good. He only considered the deal with the kid because of the money that he could use to help raise his children. His wife probably saw this bit of good through all the bad things Will has done in the past. Who knows why he killed all those people in the past, those stories could all just be rumors spread from town to town. To me, Little Bill was more of a bad guy than Will was especially when he killed Ned for not answering questions and Will did exactly what he should have done.

  16. We spent a good amount of time in class discussing the puzzling parts of Will Munny’s character. One thing that came up was whether or not Will was a no-conscience killer. I think at one point in his life, way before we are introduced to him, Will had some serious issues and was a bad man who killed women and children. But as we discussed, we don’t really know that much about Will before we meet him in the film. I thought it was interesting how we never meet his wife, but we know that she played a really important role in Will’s life because after they married, he tried to shed his “killer” persona. Will does not completely overcome his reputation though, because he goes back to his old ways of drinking and killing especially after his good friend Ned is killed. It seemed to me that throughout the film Will is trying to separate himself from his old ways. He used to be a mean killer, but now he is an old man with a farm and children. As much as Will tries to say that he is not William Munny, killer of women and children, his past is haunting him. Another interesting part of Will’s character is that no matter what we know about his past, and his actions in the film, viewers still see him as the good guy even though he is considered to be a no-conscience killer.

  17. Because I missed the beginning of the film, I do not have an image of how Will was portrayed initially. Therefore I am struggling with the issue of Will’s true character because the only man that I saw was an efficient killer. However, this does not mean that I missed his internal struggle when Ned handed him the gun to shoot the younger man on a horse. You could see that he wanted nothing more than to set the gun down and let another man do the dirty work. And I feel that this use of a weapon in conjunction with the death of his close friend was enough to send him over the edge at the end of the film when he goes so far as to threaten to kill even the women. It was sad to see a man who wanted nothing more than the comfort of his children become so cold and calculating. But I will say this: despite the fact that Will obviously suffered from an internal conflict, when the movie ended I was filled with a sense of complete satisfaction because it is not often that a movie ends in the exact fashion that I hoped it would. I was so filled with happiness when Will got his revenge on those who killed Ned and then left town with those behind him in a state of shock and awe. I really enjoyed the ending.

  18. Unforgiven was a great movie. Clint Eastwood used diagetic sound very well throughout the film. I noticed while taking notes that the sound of thunder was essential in this film. It was used as scene transitions, to give the impression of hard times, and during dramatic pauses of conversation. I also noticed that during the scene where WIll and Ned go to meet up with the kid that while the kid was firing toward them you could hear the bullet whiz by, but when he was firing away the whiz was not there. Also whenever characters would walk you could hear the metallic noise of their spurs with every step. This really added to the feel of the western genre. Eastwood used many narrative elements to leave the audience in wonder about the main character Will Munny. Munny was clearly an experienced killer by the way others spoke about him and told stories of him. We do not really see this until the end when he kills several armed people single handed. We see Munny struggling to get on his horse throughout the movie, something that really never happens in other westerns. I feel that Eastwood left us with these questions about Will Munny in order to show how old cowboys might be after their prime. I absolutely loved this movie.

  19. This was a very entertaining movie and thats saying a lot, because I am not usually a fan of western films. This film gave us as audience members a lot to think about when it comes to sound. With all the gunfire and thunder and storms and fights, there was a lot of sound to think about and a lot to process. The character Will Munny is a very interesting character. He does all this killing, yet he talks about how he wants to honor his wife, but then kills again. I could see some sort of remorse and regret in his eyes and the way he speaks about his wife. But, with that being said, I do not think that there is enough remorse in his body to be able to quit completely. He wants to, but he cant. It also shows you that there are people out there who are basically the same person and really good friends, yet they both think differently and they both have different ideas on remorse. Will continues while his partner comes to his senses and leaves, giving up this killing life he has been living. He to also has people to think about and give him a reason to give all of that up.

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