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May 1993


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Benjamin Leontief Alpers <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 31 May 1993 13:14:29 EDT
text/plain (32 lines)
Jeremy writes re:  my notion that Munney's (Clint Eastwood) raising pigs
at the start of _Unforgiven_ might be some sort of reference to the line of
Lars in _The Searchers_ about raising pigs that . . .
"Munney and Lars are such different types of characters that connecting them
with an hommage seems a bit unlikely.  I think there would be some interesting
comparisons/contrasts to be made between Munney and Ethan Edwards (John
Wayne), though."
Actually, this is more what I had in mind.  The connection I saw is that,
just as Lars imagined raising pigs as a way to get out of the standard
frontier world depicting by the Western (full of violence and the need to send
posses to retaliate, etc.), so did Munney.  Ethan, it seems to me, absolutely
chooses and accepts his role.  Munney has (and this is the one way in which
he resembles Lars) renounced that role, only to find that even adopting a
social position entirely outside the Western's economy of violence does not
remove one from that world.  I actually read _Unforgiven_ as somewhat less
critical of the world depicted in the standard Western than many others
apparently saw it.  _Unforgiven_, ultimately and quite reluctantly, endorses
the idea that certain forms of extralegal violence, though unpleasant, are
necessary to maintain justice and order. [Speaking of hommage:  Munney
becomes a pig-farmer because - like Gary Cooper in _High Noon_ - he marries
a religious woman who demands that he gives up his gun-slinging ways.]
At any rate, the reason that I feel the pig reference may be intentional is
that _Unforgiven_ seems very aware of the Western genre and (although I am
by no means an expert about these things) I can't think of any other place in
which pigs play a majory role (or even warrant a mention) in a Western.
-- Ben Alpers
   Princeton University