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(Review originally written at 14 May 2009)

Clint Eastwood is of course a true western-legend and with this movie he is paying tribute to the genre, as well as saying goodbye to it. Westerns now days are just not as popular anymore and besides, Eastwood was of course also an aging actor already at the time. This movie got made at the right time and is a great swansong for Eastwood within the genre that made him star. What "The Shootist" was for John Wayne, "Unforgiven" is for Clint Eastwood.

Besides playing the main character, the movie also got directed by Eastwood himself. It was the movie that really launched his directing career and he even won an Oscar for it. He had already directed multiple movies prior to this one and also some quite good ones as well but for some reason he was never really taken serious enough as a director by the main-stream audience.

Eastwood made this movie in the 'old fashioned' way, which no doubt he learned to do from working with Sergio Leone, to which this movie got also dedicated. The movie has all of the usual and right required western ingredients present in it but yet it also manage to give the movie a more of a fresh feeling and look over it.

It's also really due to its approach and concept that this movie works out as a refreshing one. Even though it has lots of the westerns clich├ęs present in it, the movie actually succeeds in it to turn things around. The line between the good and bad guys are being blurred and no one is a true gunslinging hero in this one, who blasts his way through town. It makes the characters of the movie work out outstandingly. The movie chooses to be more realistic but not without staying truthful to its genre. It's a western as well as an anti-western at the same time because it debunks so many of the usual western traditions.

It's not necessarily a spectacular or exciting movie but the movie is being carried by its characters and its perfectly cast actors. Because of this the movie becomes a real compelling one. As expected, Clint Eastwood is really in his element as a reformed, aging, former tough gunslinger. He is being accompanied by actors such as Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris. Hackman also won an Oscar for his role in this movie, that is being regarded by some as one of the definitive Hackman roles.

The movie got only shot in 39 days but this doesn't prevent the movie from being a good looking one, with nice cinematography, sets and costumes, which all fits the genre and time period it got set in. It's a truly fine crafted movie, that also features a nice little musical score, partly composed by Eastwood himself as well.

A fine good bye for Eastwood to the genre, to which he owes basically his entire career.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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