When I first saw Unforgiven in the theater in 1992, this scene is what I walked out with, replaying in my head. In these two or three minutes are the movie. William Muny may think “He’s not like that no more,” but this scene tells the story of what he was. Can you become someone different, someone better? Sure, but it does not erase where that new someone started. Forgiveness is up to us, and God, and no one else.
EXT. OPEN COUNTRY – DAY
Open country at sundown seen from a low hill, and you can
barely make out a lone RIDER approaching in the extreme
VIEW ON MUNNY
Standing on the rise and watching the rider in the distance.
Is that what it was like, Bill, in
the old days… ridin’ out with
everybody shootin’… smoke all over
an’ folks yellin’ an’ bullets whizzin’
The Kid is behind Bill sitting under a large oak drinking
from a whiskey bottle.
Yeah, I guess so.
Shit… I thought they was gonna get
us. I was even… scared a little…
just for a minute.
Was you ever scared in them days?
Munny turns from watching the rider’s slow approach and walks
over to The Kid who can’t see the rider from where he’s
I don’t remember, Kid. I was drunk
most of the time. Give me a pull on
that bottle, will you?
Munny takes a big pull on the bottle, returns it to The Kid,
and walks back to the edge of the rise to resume his vigil.
The rider is a little closer now and the sun is a little
lower. It is very beautiful.
I shot that fucker three times. He
was takin’ a shit. He went for his
pistol an’ I blazed away… first
shot got him in the chest…
The Kid wipes whiskey from his chin. He has been working
hard to make the hysteria he feels into a high… but it
won’t quite come.
Munny is watching the rider and the rider is closer.
That was… the first one.
First one what?
First one I ever killed.
(preoccupied with his
How I said I shot five men… it
That Mexican… the one that come at
me with a knife… I busted his leg
with a shovel… I didn’t shoot him
Munny is watching the rider and the rider is much closer but
coming at a walk and Munny goes back over to The Kid for a
pull on the bottle and he’s trying to make The Kid feel okay
when he says…
Well, that fella today, you shot him
H-hell yeah. I killed the hell out
of him… three shots… he was takin’
a sh-sh-shit an’… an’…
The Kid is shaking, becoming hysterical, he can’t go on, and
Munny hands the bottle back.
Take a drink, Kid.
(breaking down, crying)
Oh Ch-ch-christ… it don’t… it
don’t seem… real… How he’s…
DEAD… how he ain’t gonna breathe
no more… n-n-never. Or the other
one neither… On account of… of
just… pullin’ a trigger.
Munny walks back to the edge of the rise and watches the
rider and it is a lovely sunset happening and he is talking
to no one in particular.
It’s a hell of a thing, ain’t it,
killin’ a man. You take everythin’
he’s got… an’ everythin’ he’s ever
(trying to pull himself
Well, I gu-guess they had it…
We all got it comin’, Kid.
VIEW on the rider at the foot of the rise and it is Little
Sue and VIEW on Munny pulling the saddle bags off and Little
Sue is still mounted. They are under the oak tree and it is
dusk and The Kid is just sitting there with his bottle.
I was watchin’ you… seein’ if you
(scared to death)
Silky an’ Faith, they rode off to
the East an’ two deputies was
Munny has lit a little candle and spread a blanket and he is
opening the bags to count the money.
(pouring out the coins
You wanna help me count, Kid?
The Kid is leaning against the tree in a semi-stupor.
I trust you, Bill.
Well, you don’t wanna trust me too
much. We’ll take Ned his share
together so you don’t figure I run
off with it.
Yeah, he went South ahead of us. I
guess we’ll catch him before…
(blurting it out)
He’s… he’s dead.
No he ain’t. He went South yesterday.
They… they killed him. I… thought
you know that. I thought you knew
Nobody didn’t kill Ned, he went South
yesterday. He didn’t even kill nobody.
Why would anybody kill Ned?
Little Sue just looks back at him, scared, trembling.
Who killed him?
Little Bill. The… the Bar T boys
caught him and Little Bill…
He hanged him?
(Little Sue shakes
her head “no”)
Shot him down?
N-no. He… he beat him up. He was
making him… answer questions…
and beating him up… and then…
Ned just died.
Little Bill didn’t mean to kill him…
he said he was sorry an’ all… but
he said it was a good example anyhow.
Good example! Good example of what
I’d like to know? He didn’t even
kill nobody… he couldn’t do it no
They got… a sign on him says he
was a killer.
A sign on him?
In front of Greely’s. It says, “This
here is what happens to…”
They got a sign on him in front of
The Kid just has his head in his hands, it’s too much for
him and Little Sue is scared shitless of Munny.
The questions Little Bill asked him…
what sort of questions was they?
About where you an’ him
(indicating The Kid)
was… an’ where you was from… an’
what your names was… an’…
What’d Ned say?
L-lies… at first. About how you
was just passin’ through and didn’t
kill nobody… an’ Little Bill kept
askin’ questions, mixin’ him up,
catchin’ lies… an’ then he’d beat
on Ned an’ Ned would cry and lie
some more an’ then… then…
A cowboy come in sayin’ you killed
Quick Mike in the shit house at the
An’ Little Bill killed Ned for what
Not on purpose. But he started hurtin’
him worse… makin’ him tell stuff.
First ned wouldn’t say nothin’…
but Little Bill hurt him so bad he
said who you was…
Munny looks up sharply. Little Sue is scared, her voice
He said how you was really Three
Fingered Jack out of Missouri… an’
Bill said “Same Three Fingered Jack
that dynamited the Rock Island and
Pacific in ’69 killin’ women and
children an’ all?” An’ Ned says you
done a lot worse than that, said you
was more cold blooded than William
Bonney or Clay Alisson or the James
Brothers an’ how if he hurt Ned again
you was gonna come an’ kill him like
you killed a U.S. Marshall in ’73.
Didn’t scare Little Bill though, did
Lemmee see that Schofield, Kid.
Wha… what f-for?
Lemmee see it.
(giving it to him)
Sure. Sure, Bill.
Munny takes the pistol and begins to check it methodically,
inspecting the load first… and The Kid watches nervously,
shifting from foot to foot.
You… you could keep it, Bill. I
ain’t… gonna use it no more, I
ain’t gonna kill nobody.
Munny, still checking the gun, glances up and meets The Kid’s
I… I ain’t like you, Bill.
Munny looks back at the pistol, checks the sights.
You… gonna take… the money?
(to Little Sue)
You better get on back, Miss.
And Little Sue, still mounted, breathes an enormous silent
sigh of relief and turns her horse away hastily and Munny,
satisfied with the pistol, sticks it in his belt and walks
over to the horse and pulls his sawed-off shotgun out of the
You could have it. All of it.
I thought you wanted to buy spectacles
an’ fancy clothes an’ all.
I’d rather be blind and ragged than
dead, I guess.
Munny looks at The Kid who is behaving bravely but is
trembling anyway, scared, and Munny’s eyes are full of
brutally painful memories.
Shit, Kid. I ain’t gonna kill you.
You’re… the only friend I got.
– Unforgiven starring Clint Eastwood. Script by David Webb Peoples