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All About Oscar

April 11, 1993

Paula, you missed the point ("Meet Our Oscars Producer," by Paula Poundstone, March 28). It is precisely because of the alarming statistics and tragic instances of violence you list that "Unforgiven" so richly deserves its Oscar. Like his character in the film, Clint Eastwood can look back over a lifetime of murder and mayhem. The body count in his films is staggering. If "Unforgiven" isn't an atonement for that, it's certainly a revaluation of it.

Unlike countless Westerns and action films before it, in "Unforgiven" no one who uses violence to settle a score is a hero. A single act of bloody cruelty, the beating of a prostitute, begets a spiraling series of ever-more-horrifying events. The film illustrates, bluntly and painfully, that it's a hell of a thing to kill a man. Eastwood should be praised for having the courage to question what he and the industry have cavalierly done all these years.

Like the cheap dime novelist in the film, Hollywood often makes heroes of puny, murderous men. The taking of a human life, in our streets and on our screens, has become appallingly easy. It takes only a moment to pull the trigger.

But the tragic consequences of any act of violence touch us all and last forever. That's the point of "Unforgiven," Paula. It's timely, personal filmmaking of the highest order.

PAUL KOVAL

Studio City

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