Release Date(s)1992 (May 16, 2017)
Studio(s)Malpaso Productions (Warner Bros.)
- Film/Program Grade: A+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B
[Editor’s Note: The 4K portion of this review is by Bill Hunt, while the original film review is by Barrie Maxwell.]
The release of this dark (figuratively and literally) western by Clint Eastwood in 1992, and its subsequent winning of numerous awards, seemed to mark the zenith of Eastwood’s career, but after a brief pause, he’s gone on to even greater heights in the new century with such films as Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Grand Torino, American Sniper, and Sully. Meanwhile, he’s resisted any urge to return to the western, allowing Unforgiven to stand as his summary of everything he feels about the genre. Featuring outstanding performances by not only Eastwood, but Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, and Richard Harris too, its story of an aging ex-gunfighter driven by first circumstance and then inevitability back to his old and wicked ways is a film of endless satisfaction on all levels.
Unforgiven was shot on 35mm film using anamorphic lenses. For its release on the Ultra HD format, Warner has scanned the original negative in full native 4K (2160p), which it presents here in the proper 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio with a very restrained High Dynamic Range color grade. The image quality is simply exquisite. This is exactly how a photochemical film should look in 4K on this format. Fine detailing is magnificent, with wonderfully refined texturing on skin, clothing, wallpaper, and wood. The film’s grain structure is intact but it’s subtle. The blacks are dark indeed, but never crushed, with deep yet detailed shadows. The brightest areas of the image are bold but not overblown. The film’s color palette is rich and natural, offering greatly increased subtlety in its varied shadings thanks to the enhanced dynamic range. The range of greens, tans, grays, and browns visible in the landscape, on horsehides, and in the grassy rangeland is remarkable.
Audio options on the 4K disc include English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, plus Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0 in French, German, Italian, Latin Spanish, Castilian Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, and Thai. The DTS-HD mix is a notable improvement over the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix available previously on Blu-ray. The soundstage is smoother and somewhat broader, with more precise yet natural staging. It’s also a little bit punchier, more aggressive is you will especially in gunfights, and has stronger bass reinforcement. An object-based mix (whether Atmos or DTS:X) may have improved on this slightly, but the DTS-HD is nonetheless a satisfying audio experience. Subtitle options on the 4K disc include English, Italian, and German (all for the deaf and hard of hearing), plus French, Dutch, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Czech, Finnish, Danish, Turkish, Swedish, Russian, Romanian, Portuguese, Polish, Norwegian, Hungarian, Hebrew, and Greek.
The 4K disc includes the film and a feature-length audio commentary by critic Richard Schickel. The package also includes an upgrade of the previous Blu-ray edition that offers a fully-remastered version of the film in 1080p HD (with the same 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio mix). It too includes the commentary and it also carries over the following additional legacy extras from previous editions (all in the original SD):
Eastwood on Eastwood (68:34)
All on Accounta Pullin’ a Trigger (22:35)
Eastwood & Company: Making Unforgiven (23:52)
Eastwood... A Star (16:07)
Maverick TV series episode (Duel at Sundown – 49:07)
Theatrical Trailer (1:57)
The package includes a Digital HD Copy code as well on a paper insert.
Unforgiven is a modern classic of the western genre and has never looked and sounded better than it does here on 4K Ultra HD. This is a reference quality 4K image in every respect. It’s simply not to be missed.
- Barrie Maxwell