HOLY GOD how did I not weigh on in this one?
Seriously this has been around since 99 and I didnt post once??? For shame ....self wrist smack.
Sigh, this is a huge one......gonna take a bit for me to go through all this.
For one, both of these movies are epic and are indicative of greatness....FOR THEIR ERAS. GBU wouldnt have been able to have been made during the time UNFORGIVEN WAS, or vice versa. You cant just stand them up cinematically shoulder to shoulder and compare them, you also have to take in the account of when they were made and what they could get away with.
As far as great stories go, they both stand up nose to nose even as far as I am concerned. Cinematography, again for their times they are nose to nose. Keep in mind that the GBU didnt have the benefits of technological advances that UNFORGIVEN did. So clarity and lighting, both in visual AND in score have to be considered relative.
So, then what do we actually grade these movies on?
UNFORIGVEN, for its excellent writing and its composition, for its depth of characters, story line and its take on the American west...I have to honestly say is a subject that was done to death. The story of the "Cowboy that was a drunk maniac and regretful when sober" had not only been done to death but in a few movies had become comedic. In that area Eastwood didnt really break any ground. I would also have to say that Eastwood, in some degree...cowarded away from certain parts of the story that were blatantly obvious. Easiest one to pick would be Ned....how he was almost TOO equal to everyone that was his white counterpart. Hell, you didnt even know that Ned was black in the story until Lil Bill used whipping him as a method to make him talk..an obvious excrutiating thing for Ned to go thru both physically AND emotionally...but the emotional part is left to be interpreted by the viewer.
I have to admit I was a little shocked by this. Although I know Eastwood to be a progressive in his movies, especially regarding race, I expected in this tale of truth telling that he would be a little more honest, perhaps even shocking. It was an opportunity to do more than just have a black sidekick, but to define how blacks were treated in the old west.....granted it wasnt really part of the storyline, but it really should have been. You cant have a black side kick in a racial madhouse and pretend nothing happens to him on a day to day basis, especially keeping Eastwoods company.
Also, and this is just a pet peeve for me, in my opinion if you are going to have a morally questionable character like Lil Bill, and you have an actor with the chops of Gene Hackman to play him.....I think you should really stretch his range and put him in situations where you dont know if he is being good or bad. Similar to TRAINING DAY, where its unclear until close to the end of the movie where Denzel Washington's character stands. Is he inherently evil and using his badge as a semblance of good? Or is he doing good having to use a whole lot of evil.
Basically, that is where I felt that UNFORGIVEN fell a little short. Other than that it was an epic story.
But because of that, I would give GBU the nod if for one reason and one reason only.....the note of crossing the bridge.
Had the story of them having to cross the bridge and throwing into the story the face of the civil war, HONESTLY GBU would have been an interchangable part of the "Manco trilogy". No one would have cared.
But they masterfully illustrated the waste and wanton of war, any war, no matter how beautifully history tells its story. The thousands killed on a bridge for no apparent reason other than a government that could care less about any name fell on that bridge telling them to. The captain that has to be too drunk just to be able to function in this regimented madness. Blondie and Tuco bearing witness to the carnage and even by THEIR standard of cruelty this was too far. The sympathy shown to the boy....BOY....dying and attempting to be brave by Blondie.
This was a direction the movie did not need to go in to keep the story going.
Now this is an arguable point, as many could argue the beating in the prison camp to the sad song as putting the war center stage. I could agree, but the war was the backdrop of the story. GBU made the war a fourth character in the story to be contended with...wrestled with. There was no one that didnt shed a tear for Tuco when he took that beating, no matter what you felt for his character at this point. It was mans inhumantiy against man at best, and the sickening scene of a band having to play music to mask it.....aware of what they were doing and fighting back the tears.
To say that these movies arent parallel in originality is only giving nod to the later times....GBU took the movie watcher by the throat, and the heart and didnt let him go.