no matter how you look at this film you must acknowledge that it’s a landmark in the western genre. from the beginning the film is a study in storytelling 101…within a minute of introducing a character you know what the person is about – what his motivations are, what problems he must solve by the end of the film, etc. this not to say that the characters are simple – they’re anything but. in fact i’d say that a major theme in the film, for me anyway, is the grayness of things. eastwood’s character (Will) is neither wholly good or wholly bad. the same goes for hackman’s (Bill) character, who is supposed to be the opposition to eastwood. i don’t think the name selection of will and bill is random. i believe there is a conscious effort to show that in life characters aren’t as easily categorized as they normally are in westerns. this western is a sort of bizarro western – it defies all sorts of conventions. eastwood can’t ride a horse yet he is the hero. he’s killed women and children, yet he is the hero. hackman is the sheriff, but he’s no wyatt earp, nor is he the evil and corrupt sheriff. he’s certainly not pleasant, but to my eyes he’s not an abuser of power to the extent that would be expected from a typical western villian. after all, he’s not the one who killed women and children and all he ever wants to do, it seems, is build his house. that doesn’t make him jesus either, but you get my point…there’s a lot of depth to the film. the cinematography is quite good, but not overly artsy or pedantic. unlike this review, the film isn’t completely heavy in its tone. the first half, especially, has a good degree of comic relief which is good considering what comes in the second half. a fine and enjoyable film by any measure. just looked at the allmovie.com info and noticed it got an oscar nomination for best sound. well deserved. it’s not often that i notice the sound effects in a film, but this was one of those times. whoever worked on the sound did a great job.