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Unforgiven (BFI Modern Classics) Paperback – April 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Edward Buscombe has written about Stagecoach and The Searchers in the BFI Film Classics series. He is the author of Cinema Today (2003), among other books.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: British Film Institute (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844570339
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844570331
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.3 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dash Manchette VINE VOICE on December 5, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just when Westerns were apparently over, Clint Eastwood, the old dog, outdid even his best and gave us Unforgiven. It was, and still is, a fantastic movie. Fortunately, Edward Buscombe gives us one of those thin, little BFI books that spares us the technical jargon and adds considerably to our understanding of the movie. Like the characters in many of the best Westerns, he just gives it to us straight, writing for a general, rather than niche, audience.

UNFORGIVEN (the book, here) delves into the history of the Western genre, both in movies and on TV. Eastwood's own contributions to the genre are traced back to their beginnings and are placed firmly in the context of his predecessors and contemporaries, with Buscombe describing both how he fits comfortably into the world of Westerns and also how he has kicked the boundaries out a little bit.

After that introduction, the book starts going into the movie itself. Unforgiven is often viewed as a movie that upturns the genre. As Buscombe shows, though, that is not necessarily the whole of it. There are some clichés overturned but the movie actually falls quite comfortably into line. Rather, Unforgiven is notable for drawing the lines of some of those clichés so crisply. The necessity of violence to maintain a civil society, the toll that violence takes on those who must wield it for the greater good, the role of women not only as the objects of violence but as its instigators (both of which are prominent here, with the prostitutes paying for the killers after one of their own is cut up). And in a breath of fresh air, Buscombe considers the friendship between Bill Munny (Eastwood) and Ned (Morgan Freeman) without once using the word `homoerotic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Mc Coy on November 3, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Unforgiven by Edward Buscombe for the BFI Modern Classic series looks at what I consider to be one of the greatest western revisionist classics. It does a thorough job of debunking the myths of the west, while simultaneously creating them. I recently re-watched the film and enjoyed it as much as I did on the first viewing. It is only recently that I have been steeping myself in the genre after essentially avoiding it for years. Not so long ago I saw Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch began to wonder if I had been missing something. Buscombe gives a close reading of the film in context with the history of westerns and Clint Eastwood's career in particular. I also think it also has one of Gene Hackman's finest performances. It was interesting to know that Francis Ford Coppola originally bought the rights to the screenplay and that Eastwood didn't make significant changes to the script in the filming of this masterpiece.
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