Analysis of UNFORGIVEN wrong???

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Analysis of UNFORGIVEN wrong???

Postby k6adtom » Jan 11, 2009 7:23 pm

I believe the Dramatica Analysis of Unforgiven misses the author's intent. This is a story about how a character can repress their dark side, but can't truly change it. In this post, I argue that Munny is STEADFAST, not CHANGE, that he is a do-er, not a be-er, and that the Judgment is Good. Please indicate where you think I'm wrong, because I just don't agree with the Dramatica analysis. It would greatly aid my understanding of applying the Dramatica principles. Okay, here we go . . .

The Dramatica analysis pegs Munny as a change character because "he starts out a family man who has relinquised his hard-drinking, man-killing ways and is drawn back to killing for money." But if this is the case, his "change" occurs early in act 1 (minute 16:50 to 18:45), not the final act of the story. No influence is needed from the IC for Munny's "change" to happen. Munny makes the decision because his farm is failing and he needs money to raise the kids. Nor did he change because anyone challenged his worldview. Indeed, Ned even tries to talk him out of it: "you wouldn't be doing this if your wife were still alive" (minute 25:05). Not even this guilt trip dissuades Munny from the journey.

Munny is a STEADFAST main character who has simply repressed his hard-drinking, man-killing ways until the day the Skofield Kid arrives. He doesn't like pursuing the reward money but does because his farm is failing and he need to provide for his children. Later, when he discovers that Ned has been killed, his resolve hardens further and he decides to pursue the killing of Sheriff Bill as well.

Ned (the IC) is the one who really changes. When Munny and Ned first meet, Ned admits that killing is never easy, but he puts up little resistance to partnering up with Munny. They ride off at the end of Act 1 (minute 28:00). After the trio kills the first cowboy, and before the job is completely finished in Act 3, Ned decides killing isn't for him and he parts company with Munny and the Skofield Kid (minute 94:10). When Ned first meets Munny, he is willing to pursuing killing for the reward, but after the first killing, he wants no more of it -- hardly the mark of a steadfast character. Ned is even willing to give up his share of the reward to pursue his "changed heart." That makes him a CHANGE impact character.

To the the minor extent the Skofield Kid plays an IC role, he, too, represents change. When Munny and the Skofield Kid are overlooking Big Whiskey after they've killed the second cowboy (minute 105:40), the Skofield Kid openly declares that killing isn't for him (and this is before the whore arrives with news of Ned's death at minute 109). Munny remains steadfast.

Another big clue to Munny's steadfastness comes in the written epilogue prior to the movie's credit roll (minute 124:45). Does Munny stay a killer? No. After Munny has finished killing Sheriff Bill, he takes his kids, moves to San Francisco, and becomes a successful businessman. Once again, his dark side simply goes into remission (presumably until the forces in the world force him to summon it again).

Okay, now on to the do-er vs be-er debate. The Dramatica analysis pegs Munny as a be-er because "after a kicking by Little Bill, Munny doesn't even seek revenge; this doesn't happen until Ned is killed." I see this more a result of his logical problem-solving style, knowing he must restrain his desire to fight back, both to stay alive and to achieve the objective of collecting the "whore's gold." And as the bar confrontation is set up, what could Munny possibly do with six guys pointing guns at him? Both do-ers and be-ers, if they were smart, would probably behave in the same meek way Munny did. Little Bill had a fearsome reputation.

I believe Munny is a do-er because he pursues the goal of solving his failing pig farm problem by pursuing the goal of killing the cowboys and collecting the reward in a very EXTERNAL way. He does not internalize his failing farm problem or the fact he can't provide adequately for his kids through INTERNAL means.

Okay, now on to the Judgment. The Dramatica analysis pegs the judgment as BAD because " . . . the dark side of his nature that he's suppressed for years has resurfaced. He's become a mean killer again, drinks hard liquor, and will surely be haunted by the faces of his new victims." This is in direct contradiction to the the epilog at the film's conclusion, which portrays the MISUNDERSTANDING that his wife's mother had about Munny's character. In fact, Munny becomes a successful businessman in San Francisco, and apparently only Munny's wife really understood that there was also a good side to his character, that he wasn't all bad, that he could suppress his evil ways, his killing, and his thieving (and did so when he got married).

Okay, that's it. Thanks in advance for any replies.


Re: Analysis of UNFORGIVEN wrong???

Postby k6adtom » Jan 13, 2009 12:44 pm

Here is further proof of the author's intent (this is the denouement that was cut from the final film). It shows that Munny is a STEADFAST character, does NOT return to his old killing ways, but rather, returns to his family life (i.e. we cannot truly change our natures, but only temporarily suppress them). The script below begins at the final scene where Munny departs Big Whiskey:


Munny riding down the dark, lonely street at a trot and he
starts to shout at the top of his lungs.

You boys better bury old Ned
right... and you better not carve
up nor otherwise harm no
whores... or I will come back an'
kill more sonsabitches, hear?

And there are tears running down Munny's cheeks.


DAYLIGHT and Penny sweeping in the doorway of Munny's sod
hut in Kansas. She is intent on her work until she hears
the snort of a horse and looks up and her jaw drops, and her
face lights up like the sun itself and, dropping the broom,
she dashes toward him.


Munny walking across the field, leading the mare. He is
covered with dust and heavily stubbled from the trip. Penny
dashes up to him and throws her arms around him and he is
overjoyed but he doesn't have any way to express it except
through awkwardness and embarrassment.

Ain't you a lady!

And he puts his arm around her and they walk toward the



Working in the hog pens in back, concentrating on the job.

Place looks good.

And Will whirls around and sees Munny standing there beside
the house and his first instinct is to run to him and then
he remembers his dignity and stands there like a man, but
the grin is liable to break his face.

Hullo, paw.

I guess you lost some hogs to
the fever.


Three? That ain't bad considerin'.

Will is pissing in his pants with pride and pleasure and he
joins his father and they walk around the house together.

That fella come by... Tom.


The one you rode out after...
the one that had the pistol...

The Kid, yeah...

Only he wasn't carryin' no pistol
this time.


Will and Munny in te shed and Will is digging deep into a
huge pile of straw.

He say anythin'... The Kid... ?

Tom? Only how... how if you
didn't... didn't come back in a
how we was to take half the
money to Sally an' say you was...

Well, I come back, didn't I?

And Will has exposed the saddle bags and Munny moves in and
opens them and gold coins and wads of bills spill out.

Did you... did you... ?

Did I what?

All that money... I mean...
did you...?

Steal it? Naw, I didn't steal it.

No... I meant...


K-k-kill somebody?

Who said that?

N-nobody... only you took your
shotgun an' that pistol an'...

(bothered, putting
his arm around
Will's shoulders)
Before I met your maw, God rest
her soul, it used to be I was
kinda... wicked... drinkin'
spirits an' gettin' into scrapes
an' all. Only she made me see the
error of my ways an'... I ain't
like I was no more.

I guess you didn't kill nobody

(it is an effort)
Naw, son, I didn't kill nobody.


The grave of Claudia under the trees and Munny walks up to
it and maybe we hear music or maybe just the wind, but the
words begin to crawl across the screen, supered.

They were married in St. Louis in
1B70 and they traveled North to
Kansas where he engaged in farming
and swine husbandry. She bore him
two children in the eight years of
their marriage and when she died,
it was not at his hands as her
mother might have expected, but of


We are looking at him by now and there is nothing easy on
his face, no big emotions, he is just looking at the grave.

WRITTEN WORDS (crawl cont'd)
Some years later, Mrs. Ansonia
Feathers made the arduous journey
to Hodgeman County to visit the
last resting place of her only


We are looking at the stone now and the words continue.

WRITTEN WORDS (crawl cont'd)
William Munny had long since sold
the place and disappeared with the
children... some said to San
Francisco where it was rumored he
prospered as a dry goods merchant
under a different name.


The eyes of the husband and the pig-farmer and the man who
shot down five men in the Big Whiskey saloon.

WRITTEN WORDS (crawl cont'd)
And there was nothing on the stone
to explain to Mrs. Feathers why
her only daughter had married a
known thief and murderer, a man of
notoriously vicious and
intemperate disposition.


Also note the scrawl at the movie's opening, which clearly depicts the author's intent regarding Munny's character and how even the wife's own mother failed to understand his character ( . . . She bore him two children in the eight years of their marriage and when she died, it was not at his hands as her mother might have expected, but of smallpox.)

Of good family, albeit one of
modest means, she was a comely
young woman and not without
prospects. Therefore it was at
once heartbreaking and astonishing
to her mother that she would enter
into marriage with William Munny, a
known thief and murderer, a man of
notoriously vicious and intemperate

heavily and the bed creaking.

They were married in St. Louis in
1870 and they traveled North to
Kansas where he engaged in farming
and swine husbandry.

Davey and Alice are picking up speed now, breathing faster
and even snorting a little, and it's cold as Jesus in
Nebraska in the winter so when the blanket slips, Alice
snarls and gasps.

The blanket, for chrissake,
cowboy, the blanket.

There are six of these little rooms... one for each whore...
behind Greely's Beer Garden and Billiards and the walls are
just boards so you can hear what's happening in the other
rooms and right now, from DELILAH'S room, you can hear a
high-pitched, merry little giggle and that's important.

WRITTEN WORDS (crawl contd.)
She bore him two children in the
eight years of their marriage and
when she died, it was not at his
hands as her mother might have
expected, but of smallpox. That
was in 1878.

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