Eastwood: Director as Auteur

From the start, Clint Eastwood’s career was built on a contradiction.  He played anti-establishment, rebellious heroes, but they were contained in genre-oriented tales of mainstream Hollywood cinema.

As director, he espoused a quiet, calm but efficient approach, often allowing scenes to play at length (even if their pacing was slow), and showing respect for his peers, both lead and supporting actors, allowing each to get his or her due screen time.

In Unforgiven, a turning point in his career, he began to deconstruct and demythologize the self-interested and violent heroes he had played (or directed) in the first two decades of his career.

Thematically,borrowing perhaps from the screen persona of John Wayne as an older actor, Eastwood often played widowers,  men who have lost their wives or their latest relationship and are now on their own.

Unforgiven opens and closes with the same image: a long shot of Eastwood’s Manny, shown in silhouette, at his wife’s graveside.