When I first saw the True Grit advertisement, I didn’t want to go. John Wayne had made this movie a legend and I didn’t want to see the legend destroyed. Too many times have I seen a remake fail miserably.
Well I swallowed my reticence and headed off, ready to walk out early if it didn’t go well.
To say I was pleasantly surprised is a massive understatement. Geoff Bridges has not simply copied the great John Wayne, he has created a new legend of his own. I will be buying this movie as soon as it comes out. If you are into old west stories, then you have to see this. It depicts the classic lawman of my childhood dreams that, full of flaws and short comings, beats the odds in the interests of enforcing his own version of pure justice.
True Grit is a cinematic work that accomplishes everything it needs to do so well, you won’t notice it happening and you can just sit back and enjoy old west stories being told in expert style. The production, the cinematrogaphy and every piece of dialogue just seems to fit the legend. Rooster Cogburn leaps off the screen and becomes the man you knew personally just before these events occurred. This man is even an animal lover that will not abide cruelty and he deals swiftly with two children who try to harm a mule that is tied to a rail and helpless against their taunting.
The new characterisation detracts nothing from the 1969 version. So don’t hesitate to go back and revisit the original, if you enjoy one of these movies you will enjoy them both. I have to say though, Matt Damon’s portrayal of the Texas Ranger is a massive step up from the original.
The characters in this film are introduced smoothly and with purpose. It is one of those works that you will watch again next year and find nuances you had missed. It is my guess, that might keep happening for the first few times you see it and, I also predict that just like me, you will see it a few times in the coming years.
Joel and Ethan Coens don’t tend to make movies aimed at the universal movie audience. I am certain there will be people that do not like this film. It is aimed at the officienado of old west stories. Guess what, if you are reading on this web site, that is you. It is the purpose of this site also, not to appeal to the general story seeking public, it is designed for you, the wild west stories fanatics.
The protrayal of the old west in this new movie seems very real. Characters have been created to accurately reflect the realities of a harsh life style in a harsh time. The film is more reflective of the villiany that prevailed and realistically portrays the era.
It has been a very long time since I read the original novel by Charles Porter and I know that this weekend I will be pulling out my boxes of old books in the garage trying to find it. If I can’t find it, my next stop will be Ebay and see if I can pick one up.
The movie will keep you entertained from the first moments through the thrilling climax. A dark specter runs through the film’s entire length but wry and purposeful humour provides a counter point to balance it out. It provides a background for the key characters that are brilliantly protrayed and bring the action to life.
Geoff Bridges is brilliant and seems born to the role. He has to be a candidate for best actor but after winning it last year and with Westerns not being as hugely popular as they once were, it may be a hard ask. Don’t write him off though, this performance is sensational.
If you saw the original version with John Wayne and thinking nothing can match it, I encourage you to think again. I almost guarantee that within 15 minutes of the movie starting, you will be so totally engrossed in the new Rooster Cogburn, the 1969 version will leave your mind completely until after you walk out of that cinema. Bridges menaces you from the screen in the way that Butch Cassidy menaced the innocent or Wyatt Earp menaced the outlaw.
A Classic Retold.
WARNING – If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you may want to skip this story line and just go watch the movie, especially if you never saw the original.
A classic tale begins as 14-year old Mattie Ross has her father murdered by Tom Chaney. He was a range hand working for her family but also an outlaw with a past.
Mattie has a strength that belies her youth. She is strong willed and determined to exact revenge for her father’s death. Knowing she can’t do this herself she sets about finding someone to help her along. In her quest she finds Rooster Cogburn and manages to bring his unique talents to her aid in bringing the murderer down.
A local Sheriff suggests she offers a reward for bringing Chaney to justice and she approached Cogburn with her offer. She is told he is the meanest U.S. Marshal available and has been told that Reuben J Cogburn, alias “Rooster”, has true grit and that is what will be needed to bring Chaney to the noose.
The story weaves through a series of incidents where the youthful 14-year old girl demonstrates her capacity to tackle any task required to get the job done. Deceptive business men, Texas Rangers and others that stand in her way find out that treating her like a child is not so easy.
After a wilful exchange with Cogburn, he finds he has no choice but to agree to her demand to accompany him on the quest and they are soon joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf. The two lawmen never get along but suffer each other in the interests of Juctice and the Reward.
The three remain ill at ease with each but push on over rough terrain and through the worst kind of Midwest weather. Mattie refuses to stop until juctice is provided for her father’s death.
If you didn’t see the original, then the ending will come as a complete surprise. O.K. so maybe it won’t be a surprise for after all, this is one of those classic old west stories that have to stick with certain rules. What is a surprise is the lengths this old west stories lawman will go to protect a 14 year old girl. In the climactic moments he drives his horse to its death and nearly does the same to himself to get her the help she needs. He is the quintessential law man of the wild, wild west.
So then, in brief, my recommendation is, go and see this movie, you will love it.