Sound in Unforgiven (1992)

4 10 2010

Unforgiven (1992) is a Western film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. In a way this film revitalized the Western genre. Western movies, which were most popular in the 60’s and 70’s started to see a decline with the rising popularity of other genres. This film helped to get the Western genre back on the map and “back on the saddle” in a sense. The film won four Academy Awards and Eastwood’s star image was therefore preserved. Eastwood uses sound as well as other cinematographic techniques in order to make this western film an instant classic and success.

Expressive sound is commonly used in Unforgiven (1992) for dramatic effect in a given scene. One example of the usage of expressive diegetic sound is when William Munny (Clint Eastwood) picks up his pistol for the first time in ten years, and fires shots at a bucket on his hog farm to see if he has “still got it.” The sound of gunshots is expressive because it is extremely loud, yet louder than it would be if it were naturally heard. This cinematographic technique is commonly used in western films with gunshots. The sound is basically a convention of the genre. Another instance of this occurrence is the scene at the bar, when Munny has whiskey again for the first time in over ten years and mercilessly shoots up the bar, going back to his old ways. The gunshots are extremely louder than any other sound in the scene because the shooting is the central action that Eastwood wants the audience to most focus on. Another director’s choice that has dramatic effect is the limited use of orchestral scores throughout the movie. This method could be used to increase the sense of reality the audience gains from watching a specific scene and could also lead to the audience analyzing a character’s emotions more closely through the absence of sound. Matt G.

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One response

25 10 2010
Dirk Eitzen

Excellent observations.

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