Blu-ray Review: Remastered Anniversary Edition of Clint Eastwood’s Masterful ‘Unforgiven’

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CHICAGO – Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” is one of the most influential movies on my decision to become a film critic. And yet, as most people are, I was concerned that perhaps I viewed the film through the rose-colored glasses of perspective. Was it as good as I remembered? Does it hold up? Hell yes it does and it’s never looked better than it does on the stunning new transfer from Warner Brothers for its 20th anniversary Blu-ray. Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

The special features have been available before and, of course, “Unforgiven” is one of those films that has played regularly on cable and done well on DVD since it simply dominated the Oscars almost twenty years ago (winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Editing in early 1993…how it lost Best Original Screenplay to “The Crying Game” is beyond me. I like Jordan’s film but it hasn’t held up NEARLY as well as “Unforgiven.” Even Allen’s script for “Husbands and Wives” would have made a better choice). But, as cliched as this may sound, you haven’t seen “Unforgiven” look this good in years, even on the previous Blu-ray releases. The vistas, perfectly shot by Jack N. Green, look amazing in HD. It’s one of my favorite transfers in what has already been an incredible for catalog films. As for what else you’ll find that’s new, it’s really just a case of cool packaging, including a lot of trivia information in a beautiful Digibook.

As for the movie itself, I always marveled at the way “Unforgiven” deconstructed the Western itself, taking one of its icons in Eastwood and turning the question of morality back on the protagonist. You know what? “Unforgiven” works incredibly well on a subtextual level but it’s also DAMN entertaining on the surface. For this fact alone, “Unforgiven” is a must-own — it features four performances that would rank among the best of the careers of Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris. Hackman won the Oscar and if it wasn’t time for Pacino to finally get his for “Scent of a Woman,” I believe Eastwood would have as well (and probably should have…have you seen “Scent” lately? Yikes.) These four actors delivered in every way in “Unforgiven.” It’s an acting showcase, something not often seen in the Western, and it redefined the entire genre, essentially shutting it down for years because, well, who dared try to top “Unforgiven”?

Unforgiven was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 21, 2012
Unforgiven was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 21, 2012
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The passage of time continues to confirm the landmark achievement of Unforgiven, quite possibly a great director’s finest film. Now, get closer to the legend than ever before with the 20th Anniversary Blu-ray release, featuring the newly restored masterpiece plus a commemorative book with 54 pages of exclusive insights and behind-the-scenes accounts. Winner of 4 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director (Clint Eastwood), Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman) and Editing (Joel Cox), Unforgiven stars Eastwood and Morgan Freeman as retired outlaws who pick up their gun one last time to collect a bounty. Richard Harris is an ill-fated killer-for-hire, Hackman is a sly lawman of chilling brutality, and “Unforgiven is a classic Western for the ages” (Todd McCarthy, Variety).

Special Features:
o Commentary By Eastwood Biographer Richard Schickel
o 4 Documentaries:
o Pullin’ a Trigger
o Making Unforgiven
o Eastwood… .A Star
o Eastwood on Eastwood
o Classic Maverick Episode Duel At Sundown
o Theatrical Trailer

“Unforgiven” stars Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris, Saul Rubinek, and Frances Fisher. It was written by David Webb Peoples and directed by Eastwood. It was re-released on Blu-ray on February 21st, 2012. content director Brian Tallerico

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