“Splendor in the Blood: Mass Murder, True Love, and Unforgiven.”

Zinder, Paul (2011) “Splendor in the Blood: Mass Murder, True Love, and Unforgiven.”. In: The 2011 Joint Conference of the National Popular Culture & American Culture Association and the Southwest/Texas Popular Culture & American Culture Association, 20 - 23 April 2011, San Antonio, Texas. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven subverts traditional western storytelling in its narrative approach, its violence prompting horror from an audience forced to question its own desire to revel in its protagonist’s innate ability to kill (Kupfer 112). William Munny refuses to openly admit his talent for murder throughout the film, only to enact his own revenge drama during the climactic confrontation in Skinny’s saloon. To Munny, his violent past does not define or dictate his behavior. His loyalty rests elsewhere, with his deceased wife Claudia, the woman who loved and altered him. Throughout Unforgiven, Munny attempts to eradicate his personal history by reminding the audience (and himself) that he became a changed man upon meeting Claudia. Her presence shadows the film’s entire story design although she is only on-screen for a moment, in a passing shot of a photograph. Claudia’s covert role in Unforgiven places the film’s violence in proper perspective. As she is given credit for turning Munny into “just a fella” by influencing him to give up alcohol and become a family man, his inability to control his own brutal impulses at the film’s climax equals an illicit betrayal of his wife and her wishes, leaving the viewer with both a heartfelt melancholy and a longing for true love, both completely dependent on images of violent death. The proposed essay will contend that the allure of Unforgiven’s love story is not undermined by its images of death, but is instead dependent upon them. The paradoxical beauty of the film’s sadness lies in Munny’s decision to forgo his “dear departed” and return to the person he is ashamed to be – a mass murderer. Works Cited Kupfer, Joseph H. “The Seductive and Subversive Meta-Narrative of Unforgiven.” Journal of Film and Video. 60.3-4 (2008): 103 – 114. Print.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Paper presentation formed part of a panel session entitled “Film: Darkness & Devils, Horror & Murder.” Joint conference of the National Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association and the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association of the Southwest and Texas.
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Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Media > Film and Television
Research Priority Areas: Being Human - Past, Present & Future
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2016 09:31
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2016 16:42
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3753

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