UNFORGIVEN, with Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris. Directed by Clint Eastwood. At Astor Classics and Columbia Classics. WESTERNS are by their nature macho, dealing as they do with the violent, brutal and sexist Wild West of the late 19th century. Here the male ego ran riot, free from the constraints of established civilisation. Unforgiven, under the direction and through the acting of an impressive Clint Eastwood, manages to retain the violence of that time while recognising both its destructive and elevating aspects. But as its bagful of Oscar nominations would seem to suggest, Unforgiven is also entertaining. There is as much gunplay and thuggery as one would expect but this violence is thoughtfully threaded. Once shot, people do not die quickly, they bleed to death slowly, crying pitifully for water. Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) is the sheriff of Big Whiskey, a one horse town on a railroad line. Big Whiskey is as peaceful as can be expected, mainly because the sheriff strictly enforces a no-gun rule. But then a prostitute is cut u p by a cowboy, and her friends offer a substantial reward for his - and his partner's - death, the town becomes the focus of attention for some of the nastiest bounty hunters around. Among those attracted is William Munny (Eastwood) a vicious killer who was changed by the love of a woman. But since his wife's death Munny has eked out a living as a pig farmer. Now this enterprise is failing and the family is close to destitution. Munny is approached by a young man purporting to be a hardened killer, and asked whether he wants to split the bounty for the two cowboys. MUNNY refuses, but desperate for money he eventually sets off in pursuit. While on the trail he picks up his old partner in crime Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) and the two chase after money and the wild days of their youth. Meanwhile, Big Whiskey has been visited by English Bob (Richard Harris), a fop, a royalist, and an expert gun. Little Bill disarms Bob then publicly beats him before running him out of town. Munny is afforded the same reception, but still decides to go after his target. But the audience will have to wait and see if the heartless killer is still within him.