release year: 1991
genre: western
viewing setting: home DVD, 12/19/01 (most recent time)

synopsis: Will Munny, formerly a cold-blooded killer gunman, has long since quit his evil ways and is now a farmer with young children. He is coaxed back onto the road for a simple job that offers a lot of money.

impressions: This movie de-constructed all the common elements of westerns, showing us the reality instead of the fantasy. Legendary gunfights are shown to have actually been drunken luck. Ruthless killers are exposed as frauds or scared kids. And so on. The point seemed to be to unromanticize the common view of the old West, basically going in an opposite direction that every other western Clint Eastwood has ever made. The beauty of it is that, by the end, we _do_ get to see what we really want to see. In the process, we are shown a number of different and interesting characters, and are given an entertaining and realistic look at lie and death in this bygone period.

things to watch for: When Clint gets really mad at the end and turns into the evil killer we've been led to believe was gone forever.

acting: Clint Eastwood is brilliant as the aged, reformed killer. Morgan Freeman is also excellent and provides a good counterpoint as the also-aged and reformed partner. Gene Hackman does a good job as the lawman who has to be harsh and thus ends up being the movie's antagonist. Also of note was the kid, who thinks killing is as easy as pulling the trigger, and doesn't understand why the two older gunfighters don't take to it with enthusiasm.

final word: Essential western viewing; a well-deserving 1991 Best Picture winner.

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