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Unforgiven is a 1992 American revisionist Western film produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and written by David Webb Peoples. The film portrays William Munny, an aging outlaw and killer who takes on one more job years after he had turned to farming. The film stars Eastwood in the lead role, with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris. Eastwood stated that the film would be his last Western for fear of repeating himself or imitating someone else's work.[3]

Unforgiven 2.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Written by David Webb Peoples
Music by Lennie Niehaus
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Edited by Joel Cox
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • August 3, 1992 (1992-08-03) (Mann Bruin Theater)
  • August 7, 1992 (1992-08-07) (United States)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million[2]
Box office $159.2 million[2]

The film won four Academy Awards: Best Picture and Best Director for Clint Eastwood, Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman, and Best Film Editing for editor Joel Cox. Eastwood was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but he lost to Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman. The film was the third Western to win the Oscar for Best Picture, following Cimarron (1931) and Dances with Wolves (1990), and followed by No Country for Old Men (2007).

Eastwood dedicated the film to directors and mentors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. In 2004, Unforgiven was added to the United States National Film Registry of the Library of Congress as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".



In 1881 in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, two cowboys, Quick Mike and "Davey-Boy" Bunting, attack and disfigure prostitute Delilah Fitzgerald with a knife after she laughs at Quick Mike's small penis. As punishment, local sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett orders the cowboys to pay compensation in the form of several horses to the brothel owner, Skinny Dubois. The rest of the prostitutes do not consider this justice and offer a $1,000 reward to anyone who kills the cowboys. This infuriates Little Bill, who does not allow guns or criminals in his town.

Miles away in Kansas, a boastful young man calling himself the "Schofield Kid" visits the pig farm of reformed bandit William Munny, seeking to recruit him to help kill the cowboys and claim the reward. In his youth, Munny was a notorious bandit and murderer, but he is now a repentant widower raising two children. Initially refusing to help, Munny recognizes that his farm is failing, putting his children's future in jeopardy, and so reconsiders a few days later and sets off to catch up with the Kid. On his way, Munny recruits his friend Ned Logan, another retired gunfighter.

Back in Wyoming, British-born gunfighter "English Bob", an old acquaintance and rival of Little Bill, is also seeking the reward and arrives in Big Whiskey with a biographer, W. W. Beauchamp. Little Bill and his deputies disarm Bob and Bill beats him savagely, hoping to discourage other would-be assassins from attempting to claim the bounty. The next morning he ejects Bob from town, but Beauchamp decides to stay and write about Bill, who has impressed him with his tales of old gunfights.

Munny, Logan and the Kid arrive later during a rain storm and head into the saloon/whorehouse to meet with the prostitutes and learn the cowboys' location. Delirious with fever after riding in the rain, Munny is sitting alone in the saloon when Little Bill and his deputies arrive to confront him. Not realizing Munny's identity and believing him to be drunk, Little Bill beats him and kicks him out of the saloon after finding that he is carrying a pistol. Logan and the Kid, upstairs getting "advances in kind" on their payment from the prostitutes, escape through a back window. The three regroup at a barn outside town, where they nurse Munny back to health.

Three days later, they ambush and kill Bunting. Logan decides to quit and return home, but Munny feels they must finish the job. Munny and the Kid head to the cowboys' ranch, where the Kid ambushes Quick Mike in an outhouse and kills him. After they escape, a distraught Kid confesses he had never killed anyone before and renounces life as a gunfighter. When one of the prostitutes meets the two men outside of Big Whiskey to give them the reward, they learn that Logan was intercepted by Little Bill's men and tortured to death, in the process revealing Munny's true identity to Little Bill. The Kid heads back to Kansas to deliver the reward money to Munny's children and Logan's wife, while an embittered Munny, finishing Logan's bottle of whiskey after years of sobriety, returns to town to take revenge on Little Bill.

That night, Munny arrives and sees Logan's corpse displayed in a coffin outside the saloon with a sign reading "This Is What Happens To Assassins Around Here". Inside, Little Bill has assembled a posse to pursue Munny and the Kid. Munny walks in alone to confront the posse and kills Dubois. Munny then shoots Bill and kills several of his deputies, ordering the others to leave the saloon. Critically wounded, Bill says he doesn't deserve to die in this way; Munny replies, "Deserve's got nothing to do with it", and kills him. Munny then leaves Big Whiskey, warning that he will return for more vengeance if Logan is not buried properly or if any of the prostitutes are harmed.

A title card epilogue says that Munny may have moved with his children to San Francisco, where he prospered in dry goods.



The film was written by David Webb Peoples, who had written the Oscar nominated film The Day After Trinity and co-written Blade Runner with Hampton Fancher.[4] The concept for the film dated to 1976, when it was developed under the titles The Cut-Whore Killings and The William Munny Killings.[4] By Eastwood's own recollection he was given the script in the "early 80s" although he did not immediately pursue it, because according to him "I thought I should do some other things first" [5]

Much of the cinematography for the film was shot in Alberta in August 1991 by director of photography Jack Green.[6] Filming took place between August 26, 1991 and November 12, 1991.[7] Production designer Henry Bumstead, who had worked with Eastwood on High Plains Drifter, was hired to create the "drained, wintry look" of the western.[6]


Unforgiven received widespread acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes registers a "Certified Fresh" 96% approval rating based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The website's critical consensus states, "As both director and star, Clint Eastwood strips away decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West, and emerges with a series of harshly eloquent statements about the nature of violence."[8] Metacritic gave the film a score of 85 out of 100 based on 33 critical reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[9]

Jack Methews of the Los Angeles Times described it as "The finest classical western to come along since perhaps John Ford's 1956 The Searchers." Richard Corliss in Time wrote that the film was "Eastwood's meditation on age, repute, courage, heroism—on all those burdens he has been carrying with such grace for decades."[10] Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert criticized the work, though the latter gave it a positive vote, for being too long and having too many superfluous characters (such as Harris' English Bob, who enters and leaves without meeting the protagonists). Despite his initial reservations, Ebert eventually included the film in his "The Great Movies" list.[11]

Home mediaEdit

Unforgiven was released on Blu-ray Book (a Blu-ray Disc with book packaging) on February 21, 2012. Special features include an audio commentary by the Clint Eastwood biographer, Richard Schickel; four documentaries including "All on Accounta Pullin' a Trigger", "Eastwood & Co.: Making Unforgiven", "Eastwood...A Star", and "Eastwood on Eastwood", and more.[12] Unforgiven was released on 4K UHD Blu-Ray on May 16, 2017.[13]

Box officeEdit

The film debuted at the top position in its opening weekend.[14][15] Its earnings of $15,018,007 ($7,252 average from 2,071 theaters) on its opening weekend was the best ever opening for an Eastwood film at that time.[10] It spent a total of 3 weeks as the No. 1 movie in North America. In its 35th weekend (April 2–4, 1993), capitalizing on its Oscar wins, the film returned to the Top 10 (spending another 3 weeks total), ranking at No. 8 with a gross of $2,538,358 ($2,969 average from 855 theaters), an improvement of 197 percent over the weekend before where it made $855,188 ($1,767 average from 484 theaters). The film closed on July 15, 1993, having spent nearly a full year in theaters (343 days / 49 weeks), having earned $101,157,447 in North America, and another $58,000,000 overseas for a total of $159,157,447 worldwide.[16]


Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Picture Clint Eastwood Won
Best Director Won
Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Film Editing Joel Cox Won
Best Actor Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Original Screenplay David Webb Peoples Nominated
Best Cinematography Jack N. Green Nominated
Best Sound Les Fresholtz, Vern Poore, Dick Alexander and Rob Young Nominated
Best Art Direction Henry Bumstead and Janice Blackie-Goodine Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Film Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Direction Nominated
Best Original Screenplay David Webb Peoples Nominated
Best Sound Les Fresholtz, Vern Poore, Dick Alexander and Rob Young Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Director Clint Eastwood Won
Best Supporting Actor Gene Hackman Won
Best Motion Picture – Drama Clint Eastwood Nominated
Best Screenplay David Webb Peoples Nominated


The music for the Unforgiven film trailer, which appeared in theatres and on some of the DVDs, was composed by Randy J. Shams and Tim Stithem in 1992. The main theme song, "Claudia's Theme," was composed by Clint Eastwood[17]

In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked Peoples' script for Unforgiven as the 30th greatest ever written.[18]

American Film Institute recognition

In June 2008, Unforgiven was listed as the fourth best American film in the western genre (behind The Searchers, High Noon, and Shane) in the American Film Institute's "AFI's 10 Top 10" list.[19][20]


A Japanese remake directed by Lee Sang-il and starring Ken Watanabe was released in 2013. The plot is very similar to the original, but takes place during the Meiji period in Japan with Watanabe's character being a samurai of old regime instead of a bandit.


  1. ^ "Unforgiven". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Unforgiven (1992) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 13, 2015.
  3. ^ "Clint Eastwood reveals why UNFORGIVEN may be his last Western". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  4. ^ a b McGilligan 1999, p. 467.
  5. ^ Whittey, Stephen (June 13, 2014). "Clint Eastwood on 'Jersey Boys,' taking risks and a life well lived". Retrieved October 10, 2015.
  6. ^ a b McGilligan 1999, p. 469.
  7. ^ "Miscellaneous Notes". Turner Classic Movies. A Time Warner Company. Retrieved September 20, 2015.
  8. ^ "Unforgiven (1992)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  9. ^ "Unforgiven Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  10. ^ a b McGilligan 1999, p. 473.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 21, 2002). "Unforgiven". Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  12. ^ Newman, Gene. "Unforgiven [Blu-ray Book]". Alpha Media Group Inc. Archived from the original on May 2, 2013. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  13. ^ Unforgiven 4K Blu-ray, retrieved 2018-04-27
  14. ^ Fox, David J. (August 18, 1992). "Weekend Box Office: Eastwood Still Tall in the Saddle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  15. ^ Fox, David J. (August 25, 1992). "Weekend Box Office: 'Unforgiven' at Top for Third Week". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  16. ^ McGilligan 1999, p. 476.
  17. ^ Cameron (February 24, 2015). "Not Dead Yet: Ten Best Modern Westerns". The Film Box. p. 10. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  18. ^ "101 Greatest Screenplays". Writers Guild of America West. 2013. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  19. ^ Mirko (June 17, 2008). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved June 18, 2008.
  20. ^ "Top 10 Western". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2008.


External linksEdit