MovieChat Forums > Unforgiven (1992) Discussion > The moral and ethical dilemmas in this f...

The moral and ethical dilemmas in this film...

...are so typical of Eastwoods movies. right back to Dirty Harry. He forces the deck.

Basically the main problems that the movie offers up is the cowboys scarring the prostitute. That's terrible. They don't kill her. But the guys who did it get prices put on their heads. It's like it's saying "This is what happens when you tolerate and legitimise prostitution. And now there's going to be killing. Because of prostitution."

And of course it can't put Eastwoods "heroic" former outlaw up against a normal law man. Eastwood needs to make a point "Yeah. See? If the people who keep the peace and enforce the law are the only ones allowed to carry deadly weapons, then they will be corrupt...." Huh?

It's like in Dirty Harry after Callahan catches up to Scorpio and gets the kidnaped girl's location (too late) and they have that ridiculous scene where the district attorney is furious with him and more interested in the criminals rights. It's utterly preposterous and just makes the issues the movie claims to be treating seriously look as absurd as most social media discussion is these days.

I love Unforgiven. It's a great film. But Eastwood loves to have his cake and eat it and the way the pieces are set on the board for this game is one of the prime examples of it.


You’re an idiot. This is a classic case of Art initiation life. Do you not see what’s happening these days you dolt?


So was Eastwood making a movie about thirty years in the future, but set over a hundred years ago? Unlikely.

Or maybe it's just because it's the kind of thing that conservatives like to believe and have always claimed.

I guess you'll have the stats that prove that people are safer wherever everyone is able to or does carry deadly weapons. And that you'd be able to show that in countries like the Netherlands where prostitution is more or less decriminalised, that they have a violence and murder problem that the US doesn't.

By the way. I think the expression you are trying to use is "art imitating life". Which isn't an expression. It's life imitating art when something that seems unlikely in a work of art actually happens in real life. And it does not apply here. Because there is no example in the developed world where public safety, from the police, is reduced if the citizenry is not allowed deadly weapons. It's a bullshit fantasy.

Do you know what leads to most police shootings? Fear of being shot by an armed citizen.


These issues have been around for centuries just on different scales and 1992 was only 30 years ago. Where have you been
And in this case it is art imitating life.


I don't see the film at all this way.

The film doesn't put forth the message that prostitution leads to killing. That's never stated, or even implied. It does, however, clearly imply that when someone of low social standing, such as a prostitute, is wronged, she has no societal safety net the way someone who is looked upon more favorably by society does.

Likewise your interpretation of the message about guns is misguided. Where do you see any such statement in the film? There's never any implication whatsoever that if only the police have guns, the police will be corrupt. Little Bill was already corrupt. When he outlaws guns, he's doing so because of all the bounty hunters showing up.

It sounds to me like you are projecting your own beliefs and causes onto the film, and looking for ways the film refutes them.

I can't pretend to know with certainty what Eastwood was trying to convey with the film, but it certainly seems to me that it's along these lines:

When people outside of mainstream society, such as prostitutes, are harmed, they have little recourse for justice. They have to turn to others who live outside the mainstream, like bounty hunters.

Some people are in denial about who they really are. Little Bill believes he's a good guy, but he's a bully. He pushes people around and humiliates them.

Another phony is English Bob. He lives off an unearned reputation. W.W. Beauchamp, the writer, follows him around, hanging on his very word, until he runs into an even bigger phony in Little Bill, whom he immediately gloms onto.

Munny is also in denial, of a different sort. He believes he's left his evil ways behind him, and for the most part he has, but Ned's death sends him back to who he was, and he's still every bit as effective a killer as he ever was. Unlike Bob and Bill, Munny is the real deal. When Beauchamp tries sucking up to him, he wants no part of it.

The only good guy, or at least close to it, is Ned, who reluctantly accompanies Munny, and harms no one, and he dies. Maybe the message is that the good guy doesn’t always win?


It's like it's saying "This is what happens when you tolerate and legitimise prostitution. And now there's going to be killing. Because of prostitution."

I think you're reading too much into this.

Where you see a point against legalized prostitution, it might simply be that the story required a victim (Delilah being cut up) and not getting justice. If this was any other townswoman who was attacked and disfigured, would Little Bill have been so cavalier in his justice? Bill would have whipped at least and maybe worse if the woman was anything but a prostitute. A prostitute provides the believability that we need to accept that a woman could be disfigured and not get justice.

"Just because we let them smelly fools ride us like horses don't mean we gotta let 'em brand us like horses".

Maybe it was more pro-women's rights than an anti-prostitution deal, or maybe it was both - or maybe it was neither.


I didn't get that it was criticizing prostitution as an institution (maybe I'm an idiot like Goldfadd very mean & unnecessarily called you). It was just a thing that was legal at that time. It was only Little Bill's town ppl weren't allowed to carry as Sheriffs had a lot of authority back then. Stealing a horse was a death sentence. They didn't have time for months of trials & appeals. Civilization, and all it entails, was coming but not fully implemented yet. The laws of the jungle were still in play to a point.

Death for scarring & for stealing a horse seems harsh by today's standards. But you steal a man's horse you're stealing his livelihood or ability to have one so there needed to be strict deterrents. I still think death for scarring even back then was a little OTT but again that was the woman's livelihood, or maybe more accurately the man in charge's livelihood under attack. But he didn't even want that hit carried out.

I love Unforgiven too.


'It's like it's saying "This is what happens when you tolerate and legitimise prostitution. And now there's going to be killing. Because of prostitution."'

It's NOTHING like that.