Clint Eastwood: The Eternal Cowboy Is Back – Gatopardo

The story of Clint Eastwood is the story of two cowboys. The first of them became famous in the westerns Italians led by Sergio Leone during the sixties. Even thoughe the plots describe him as a pragmatic and selfish being who dodges life with bullets, he cannot be denied the occasional courtesies that even make him seem like a hero. Without a biography or a lot of character complexity, he can hardly be considered a character: he is rather an archetype, an icon, manifested in many of the roles that Eastwood played – cowboys or not – until the early 1990s. If these first incarnations are questionable for exalting violence as a legitimate way of living together, in its most disturbing skin, that of the bloodthirsty detective Harry Callahan, the archetype becomes even disgusting: over five films, of Dirty Harry (1971) a The Dead Pool (1988), Harry The dirty he killed 43 criminals and pleasantly materialized the punitive, fascist desires of American society.

And then there’s the other cowboy, whose roots can be touched in the westerns that Eastwood directed in the seventies and eighties, where he began to object to the hegemony of violence. Although he still played a brutal individual on bloody missions, as a film author Eastwood seemed to question the legitimacy of pouncing on evil and stabbing it to death. His skepticism reached a climax in Unforgiven (1992), where he made a definitive revision of the genre that would end heroic myths and expose his characters not as romantic gunmen but as lamentable sociopaths. In the protagonist you could see, in turn, the two cowboys: the classic, biblically destructive, and the new, vulnerable, even tender.


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