After watching Clint Eastwood’s film Unforgiven recently I took an interest in Daniel Bormann’s academic analysis.(1) Bormann summarizes the commentary that has been written since the movie came out in 1992 and won the many awards that it did. The year 1992 was a big one for me as I began to take the writing of poetry seriously, and the Faith I belonged to, the Baha’i Faith, commemorated the 100th anniversary of the passing of its Founder, Baha’u’llah.

Bormann tells us that there have been many views of the chief character in the film, William Munny. It is difficult, therefore, to view Munny as one-dimensional. Munny can be seen as supernatural, natural, evil, simple or complex. Cinema analysts can utilize psychoanalytically based frameworks for their commentary. The view which Bormann stresses is Munny as: simple-man with brutish propensities but, still, a man with principles. This view also sees him as a man with a convincing but tormented inner life. Bormann sees Munny as fundamentally symbolic, a man who stands for, who metaphorically represents America.

Bormann sees Munny as an example of a character in which complexity is attained by, is dealt with, simply, with simplicity. In the end one of the lasting psychological and technical contributions of Eastwood through his film Unforgiven may be that he gives us, again metaphorically, an important way in which America understands itself. Some work is still to be done to make Munny cohere further in the fullness of his contradictory complexity; perhaps future research and analysis of this film will choose to follow this trail of coherence through the paradox, the polarity, of complexity and simplicity that Bormann has opened-up for cinema enthusiasts who like a bit of solid analysis. Most of the study of this film thusfar, Bormann argues, provides individually brilliant, but collectively sterile, work.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)Daniel Candel Bormann, “Too Many Munnies, too Many Americas: The Answer to the Academic Frontier in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven,” European Journal of American Studies, 2009.

So often when one sees a film it hits
the sensory emporium and then one
goes to bed or out for a meal, a cup
of tea and a piece of cake…the little
bit of cinema slips into a long visual
complex history that is part of one’s
life…One can not solve the world’s
violence vicariously through mythic
tales however transcendent the truths
are to the advancement of civilization
and however much these tales bring
out virtues latent in our characters &
our quotidian lives…We are, for the
most part, spectators, in an immense
global drama that is tearing the world
apart & reconstructing it in a Plan that
is as mysterious in its workings as it is
inscrutable to the wisest men among us.

Ron Price
26 August 2010
married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015)