Unforgiven is dedicated to Don Siegel and Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood's two cinematic mentors, who represent, respectively, the legacy of the classic Hollywood Western and the radical updating of the genre by Italian Westerns in the 1960s. William Munny, wonderfully played by Eastwood himself, finds himself confronted not only by the formidable sheriff Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) but also by his own inner demons and the awful realities of violence and death. On its appearance in 1992 the film proved a popular and critical success, securing Academy Awards for Best Picture, for Eastwood as Director, for Gene Hackman as Best Supporting Actor, and for Joel Cox as Editor. Unforgiven is Eastwood's last Western to date, and the film may prove to be his swan song in a genre he has graced for more than forty years.
Edward Buscombe explores the ways in which Unforgiven, sticking surprisingly close to the original script by David Webb Peoples, moves between the requirements of the traditional Western, with its generic conventions of revenge and male bravado, and more modern sensitivities.