Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Unforgiven Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Violent Oscar winner shatters myths of the Old West.
  • R
  • 1992
  • 131 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 9 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

An effort is made here to de-romanticize violence as it is usually shown in Western movies. Killing is seen to take a toll on the perpetrator as well as the victim. The message is that it's not easy to shoot and kill another living being "unless you have no conscience." There is also a solid effort to illustrate moral ambiguity: the sheriff, who believes in upholding justice and fairness, is also sadistic and evil when he loses his temper. On the other hand, the ferocious, violent gunslinger has a softer, moral side and fights to be a better person. The women are prostitutes, but are shown working together to fight for their safety and a semblance of dignity and respect.


Graphic killings, beatings, knifings, and mayhem throughout. Opening sequence shows a prostitute being slashed in the face. Men are ambushed, shot at point-blank range, beaten ferociously, kicked, and whipped. Men and women are hit with fists, knocked to the ground. A man is shot multiple times while sitting in an outhouse. A dead man is shown hanging on a sign. A sheriff loses his temper and is seen as violently out of control on several occasions.


Primary female roles in the film are prostitutes. The action is precipitated by an angry "client" graphically slashing one of these prostitutes during a sexual encounter. Several scenes show the women negotiating for and in the early or late stages of sexual activity with randy cowboys. These women are treated as "property" and have few rights as citizens. They live in fear and are greatly disrespected, but strive to find some dignity and worth. There is no nudity.


Harsh swearing and cursing throughout: many forms of "f--k," "ass," "piss," "hell," "bitch," "dick," "hump," "whore," "pecker," "for Christ's sake," "goddamn it," "Jesus," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Numerous occasions in which men swig liquor directly from a bottle; drinking whiskey is seen as an integral part of the culture of the Old West. There is much discussion of drunkenness and the resulting immoral, often violent behavior.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie contains multiple scenes of point-blank gunfire, vicious close-up beatings (including bull-whipping a man's bare back and repeatedly kicking a fallen man in the face), slashing of a woman's face, and a man shot dead while sitting in an outhouse. The language is coarse throughout. The women at the center of this film are prostitutes who are depicted as "property" rather than human beings. One scene shows a sexual act, though the participants are mostly clothed. Other suggestive scenes show the men negotiating for sexual favors. Alcohol is consumed in several sequences.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written bySinfoniarc August 7, 2010

The Evil Of William Munny

I'm going to attempt to review this movie as if I'm writing to adults, since I'm assuming that no parent in their right mind would allow a child... Continue reading
Adult Written byjmo97 June 16, 2016

A very intense, but mature, Western about the effects of violence

The first time I saw the movie, I thought it was kind of slow, though it had some interesting scenes that discuss the negative effects of violence on people. Th... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byYoungDirector January 12, 2021

Gritty and Violent

This gritty tale of The American West takes a look at the idea of idolizing the wrong people and what it means to be a good person
Teen, 16 years old Written byStoogefan197 July 10, 2019

Does tend to be violent, but it is by far the best western I have ever seen.

I'm blown away with this movie, Clint Eastwood did an amazing job on directing, producing, and acting in this masterpiece. All of which was oscar-worthy. B... Continue reading

What's the story?

When a prostitute is brutally slashed in the face and badly scarred, her assailants are discharged without fitting punishment. To avenge their friend, her co-workers offer $1000 reward to anyone willing to kill the attackers. William Munny (Clint Eastwood), a retired outlaw/killer who's trying to go straight and make ends meet for his children on a ramshackle hog farm, joins with his old partner Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and The Scofield Kid, a young braggart, as they head for Big Whiskey, Wyoming to kill the slashers and split the reward. But Sheriff Little Bill Taggart (Gene Hackman) runs a tightly-controlled town. The citizens fear their sheriff even as they respect his authority. Munny and his accomplices arrive and the forces of good and evil collide as justice is sought. But which force is good and which is evil? And, is there purity in either?

Is it any good?

Clint Eastwood's career as a filmmaker and director soared with the release of this hauntingly memorable film. Winning Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, among others, UNFORGIVEN offers an original, thought-provoking, and gritty look at the true nature of violence, morality, and justice. Heroes are flawed; villains are complex. The act of taking a life has seldom been examined in action movies and Westerns. In this one, the consequences of that act override the deed itself: "Killing a man... it don't seem real... how he ain't gonna never breathe again, ever." And, "it's a hell of a thing, killing a man -- you take away all he's got, all he's ever gonna have."

Screenplay, performances, direction, cinematography, and music combine to create a different kind of Western, one that made a significant change in an All-American genre.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this movie is a departure from traditional Westerns (for example: the good guy is an outlaw; the bad guy is the sheriff). What are some of the other Old West myths that are turned upside down here?

  • How does the story of English Bob help illustrate what the west was really like?

  • What do you think the filmmakers were trying to say about the consequences of evil and/or violent behavior?

  • How do the women in this film stand up for themselves?

  • What other choices do you think they had?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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