Title: True Grit
Genre: Western, Adventure
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Music: Carter Burwell
Cinematography: Roger Deakins
Title: True Grit
Genre: Adventure, Western
Director: Henry Hathaway
I watched these two films consecutively, Coen brothers’ remake first, Henry Hathaway’s original came second.
Overall, Coen brother’s remake outshines the original in almost every aspect (which should not be too proud of thanks to the evolution of technology and mankind in these 40 years), its bleak locale disturbs more than the yellow-hued original version in guarantee a sense of grueling western lifestyle, particularly by several supplemental sketches such as the bear man and the hanging corpse. The resurrection of western genre has tumbled through a long and bumpy way, sometimes it seems to be a pipe dream because we all admit time is a ruthless bitch, but in the hands of Coen brothers, the clicking steps are by far the firmest one to satisfy our nostalgia for that era (who could forget NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN?).
It’s hard to believe that TRUE GRIT actually is my first John Wayne’s film if my memory doesn’t fail me (which partially testifies that Western film usually is not my cup of tea), also I discovered it got Wayne an Oscar winning for Best Actor, which honestly speaking, is far from academy’s normal criterion, the performance is particularly unexceptional, to me it’s rather a tribute to his entire career, which is a stock and unfair trickery using by the academy (Paul Newman for example), Jeff Bridge’s interpretation also doesn’t take my breath away as well, mainly because his weird accent does bug me a lot.
The original version is more or less an eulogy towards Wayne’s iconic heroism image, his absolute priority in the film never shivers, and releases a much more amiable stance all the way till the end, and in the remake, Bridge’s Rooster is excelled by the audacious poise of Mattie (an awe-stricken 14-some Hailee Steinfield), whom I insist putting in the leading actress category (in both versions).
Mattie’s precocity indeed shows off two divergent impressions in two films, the original one is slightly obnoxious and naive in order to cast a comparison to elect a more morally agreeable image for Rooster, while the latest one maintains a tug-of-war between Mattie and Rooster, demonstrating a contemporary ethos of our generation.
LaBoeuf is a character devoid of any further exploitation in both versions. A rookie Glenn Campbell in the old version serves merely as an eye-candy (the weakest link amongst the trinity); in Coen’s version it adds some intermitted gusto to the lone pair by taking several French leaves, both times he acts the role as the savior, but ended in different ways.
The plots are almost identical, apart from LaBoeuf’s denouement, another major modification is the ending, Mattie sacrificed one arm to pay the price of her own willfulness in the remake, which I must applaud for its intrepidity (although I should not be too much surprised because of its under Coen brothers’ name tag), the true grit not only sprouting in their films, also within themselves. As for John Wayne’s version, hardly a masterpiece, but still a solid one to catch my breath within its lengthy duration, one fringe benefit is that it successfully arouses my curiosity of his other noteworthy films!