Grit Grit: A Film’s Tribute to the Novel

  ”True Grit” (True Grit) is the second film adapted from the novel by the Coen Brothers after “No Country for Old Men”. Hundred Dollars hires Law Enforcement Officer Coburn to join her in tracking the story of murderer Tom Cheney. In the meantime, Texas Mounted Police LeBoyve joined, and the three formed a temporary team to complete the task. The ending of the story is that McGrady got what she wanted, but at the cost of an arm.
  ”Grit Grit” is a novel published by Charles Portis in 1968, and it was made into a movie in 1969, starring John Wayne, a symbol of the American spirit. Wayne won the Oscar winner for his role as Coburn, becoming the pinnacle of his western film career. However, the American writer Donna Tarter wrote in the afterword of the reprint of the 2004 “True Grit” novel that this version of the movie is indeed very good, but it does not conform to the spirit of the original book. One specifically mentions Wayne. I think that although Wayne’s acting skills are good, it does not conform to the description of the characters in the novel. She believes that Coburn in the novel should be close to forty years old and slightly fat. And Wayne was in his early sixties at the time.
  At the same time, although Wayne’s version of “True Grit” is very classic, it has little influence on the Coen Brothers, because their goal is to start from the original. In 2010, 42 years after the novel was published, the Coen brothers chose to make it their own movie, and they succeeded. The film not only has high box office revenue, but also has a good reputation. The reason why such achievements can be made in the new century when Western films are in a downturn is partly because the original book is still attractive to Americans. For example, Donna Tate described the love of four generations of her family for this book. It also lies in the extraordinary talent of the Coen brothers.
image and voice

  The first aspect of extraordinary talent is to grasp the image of each person, especially the voice.
  The hairstyles, clothing, and accessories of the characters are all the externalization of the character, and sometimes participate in the narrative. In early westerns, the main character’s good and evil could even be judged by clothing, such as white clothes representing justice, while evil villains wore black clothes. The external images of the three main characters in “True Grit” have their own characteristics.
  Coburn is a slovenly figure, his waistcoat is only buttoned up, and he lives in very unclean conditions. Due to long-term drinking and smoking, his tone is vague, his words are unclear, and his mouth seems to be chewing tobacco forever.
  LeBoieve was a stark contrast to Coburn. He pays attention to dressing, and his riding outfit gives people a bright and neat feeling. His long and big spurs are a bit ostentatious, especially his hair, which is deliberately tied in a lock on his forehead. This kind of collocation gives people a sense of conceit to arrogance, which is precisely revealed from his conceited tone.
  Tracy, the victim, was only fourteen years old. In order to track down the murderer, she took on the road wearing three of her father’s relics: a windbreaker that grew so big that she had to roll up the cuffs, a belt that was too long to be tucked in after it was fastened, and a cap that The newspaper just fits on the head. Besides that, there was that Colt Dragoon pistol. This kind of dress itself has a kind of determination in it that “the yellow sand wears the golden armor in all battles, and if you don’t break Loulan, you will never return it”. But also because she is the victim, her tone is the firmest, full of angry morality. According to Ian Nathan’s introduction in “Ethan and Joel Coen”, in order to find the voice that fits the role of Tracy McGrady, the brothers can be said to have spent a lot of time, and finally chose Hailey in the sea of ​​voices. stanfield. She “seemed straight out of the 1870s”.
  Those criminals also have their own characteristics, such as Tom Cheney has a black spot on his face, and the lip of the bandit leader Ned Pepper was pierced by a bullet once. These external features enhance the recognition of the characters and are easy to leave a deep impression on people. And Ned Pepper’s lines are brilliant. From stalkers to criminals, “everyone falls in love with their voice”.

  Although there are suspense in the Coen brothers’ movie, the suspense is not about who the murderer is, because they have already informed the crime process early in the movie. The suspense is whether or how to catch the murderer.

“True Grit” movie poster

  This is a typical revenge story, and the victim has a clear target for revenge, just like William Munny in “Unforgiven” (Unforgiven) went to “Little Bill” Daggett who killed his friend, “The Revenant” (The Revenant) Hugh Glass in Revenant goes to find John Fitzgerald, the murderer of his son. The difference is that McGrady, who wants revenge in “True Grit”, is just a fourteen-year-old ordinary girl. She doesn’t have the stunts like William Munny and Hugh Glass, so she needs help. Even tough guys need help sometimes. The sheriff in “High Noon” and “Rio Bravo” and the cowboy in “Unforgiven” all ask for help from their friends. McGrady doesn’t have any friends with special skills, so she can only find bounty hunters, and she has to find the one who suits her best.
  Following Coburn, McGrady also grew into a master in the tracking process. This is a main line about growth, and there is also a change in Coburn’s attitude towards Tracy McGrady. Of course Coburn did it for money, but that was only the beginning. This was also the most direct goal of the bounty hunters. For this goal, they fought with their lives. William Munny in “Unforgivable” and Kim Schultz in “Django Unchained” (Django Unchained) are like this. Of course, there are also people who don’t know each other for money. Such as Shane in “The Wilderness” (Shane), Joe in “Red Dead Redemption”. But in the end, Coburn was moved by Tracy’s courage and perseverance, after all, he was also a father. McGrady is the ideal image of a daughter, and Coburn fills in the emotional pain points of McGrady’s loss of his father and becomes the object of McGrady’s identification with “manhood” and “courage”. In the end, the relationship between the two is more like a father-daughter relationship.
  Suspense is the driving force of the story. There are generally three suspense in “Grit Grit”, all of which revolve around the narrator Tracy McGrady. The first is whether McGrady can get Coburn to go out, the second is whether McGrady can adapt to the difficult life of tracking, and the third is whether McGrady can realize his desire to bring the murderer to justice. These three suspense push the movie to the end. These suspenses are also essential elements of an adventure story. Faced with this kind of adventure story, people often think of Huckleberry Finn. Both Walker Percy and Donna Tate took notice, linking Tracy to Finn.

Foreshadowing and foreshadowing

  Although the novel “True Grit” recalls an adventure experience from the perspective of Maddy Ross, its structure is very delicate, especially the use of foreshadowing and foreshadowing, which makes the work natural. I personally think that this is why it was able to be listed on the “New York Times” bestseller that year. One of the reasons why the book is at the top of the list. The Coen Brothers’ movies keep their essence and improve it. The way Coburn and LeBoieve came out was in stark contrast. Coburn’s appearance was Zhuge Liang’s style, and he first said it through the mouth of the judge. The judge provided McGrady with three excellent tracking experts, each of whom seemed to have unique skills, but why did McGrady choose Coburn in the middle? This undoubtedly exposed her psychology. To avenge her father, what she wanted was a violent way, to pay back the debt with blood. Compared to Coburn, the other two seemed a bit gentle, so they were not to her liking. This is echoed by another detail, in which LeBoieve discusses with her the question of where Tom Cheney will be sentenced. When it comes to dealing with the murderer, he must follow his own will, which is McGrady’s obsession. Coburn heard his name before seeing him, paving the way for his appearance. His fiery personality was further strengthened through his words and deeds in court.

“True Grit” movie stills

  Regarding foreshadowing, I believe many people must have heard the famous “Chekhov’s gun”. Tracy picks up the gun while packing up her father’s belongings, and the movie gives a close-up. The first time Maddy saw Coburn, Coburn saw something in her pocket, took it out, and recognized it as a Colt Dragoon. McGrady says she’s going to kill Tom Cheney with this gun, and Coburn warns her that it’s a great gun, but it has a lot of recoil. These are the foreshadowings designed for McGrady to meet Tom Cheney while fetching water and shoot him.
  Another important foreshadowing comes from the snake. Coburn sleeps in a circle around himself with a rope. LeBoieve said there were no snakes in winter, and Coburn warned him that it was the turn of winter and spring, and the snakes had woken up. The seemingly casual dialogue actually paved the way for McGrady being bitten by a snake later.
  It is these exquisite designs that make the plot coherent and smooth, even if the plot changes suddenly and the direction is not abrupt. Foreshadowing makes the content full, while foreshadowing makes the structure appear delicate. The combination of the two improves the artistic quality of the film as a whole.
a mystery

  There is a puzzling episode in which, in front of Bagby’s general store, Coburn cuts the reins of a mule and kicks two Indian children off twice, which the children do not mind.
  The first thing to say is that the two children were boys, although one of them wore two braids. It is very common for Indians to wear braids, just look at the braids of the little Sioux boys in “Dances with Wolves”. Moreover, in the original novel of “True Grit” and the script of the Coen Brothers, it is mentioned that there are two boys. So why was Coburn so rough with them? It turned out that the two children were watching the excitement of the mule. It is clearly explained in the novel: a cotton rein is wrapped around the mule’s chin, and the sun dries the moisture in it, and the cotton rein becomes tighter. The mule was suffering, so he kept struggling, but the more he struggled, the tighter the cotton rope became. The two children stood by and watched the mule’s jokes. Coburn then cut the mule’s rein, freed it, and kicked the two boys. The child knew Coburn very well, and knew he was wrong, so he didn’t show any displeasure, let alone protest. In the original book, they also punted to help Coburn and his party cross the river.
The “change” and “increase” of movies

  If the movie wants to compress the content of a book into 120 minutes, it is bound to make changes. Although the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit” follows the general structure of the original book, it does not mean that there are no changes.
  One of the bigger changes is that in the original book, the three-person tracking team has never been separated, but in the movie, in order to increase the twists and turns, Le Boye chose to leave twice, especially after the first time. Inadvertently sabotaging Coburn and Tracy’s plans.

“True Grit” movie stills

  In addition to this variation, the Coen Brothers also added their own signature elements. For example, after Le Boye left for the first time, Coburn and his party met the Indian district dentist. Why join this bridge? The Coen Brothers are said to have a particular preference for doctors, especially dentists. Does that count as their mark? Just like Hitchcock always “flash” in the movies he directed.
  However, it is a pity that “True Grit” did not win the Oscars that year. I personally think that one of the main reasons is that the original work lacks exciting climax sections, and it is difficult for the audience to obtain a higher-level aesthetic experience for a film that is faithful to the original work.

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