29 August 2011
TRUE GRIT by CHARLES PORTIS
As a younger adult, I loved the John Wayne classic version of True Grit. When I saw they were making a new version, I decided to watch the old, then see the new. The result was two very different movies, which then spurred me on to read the book. My quest was to see which movie more closely followed the original book version. So..I ordered it from the library and sat back to wait my turn.
The book version of this classic tale reads almost like a movie script. By that I mean that it consists mostly of either dialog, or of descriptions as told through the eyes of the female protagonist, Mattie Ross. Mattie is the thirteen year old daughter of an Arkansas rancher who is murdered when he goes to town to buy horses. Since she is the oldest child, and her father's right hand person, she is sent to Fort Smith to claim his body, but decided to stay on and avenge his murder. The result is an action story about three people chasing down a criminal in Oklahoma Indian Territory. Since the book is told through Mattie's voice, it is less of an adventure story and more of a character study of the people involved. Mattie Ross is a self assured, older than her years, head strong girl. She teams up with Marshall Rooster Cogburn, an almost washed up, grizzled U.S. Marshall who likes to shoot first and ask questions later. The third major character in the story is LeBeouf, a by the book Texas Ranger who is long on attitude and ego and just happens to be chasing the same criminal that Mattie is after.
The resulting story is an interesting read and a good story. Both movies stick pretty close to the book in both plot and dialog, with the newer version being a little more true to the details. As a result, if you have seen either movie, there is really nothing new to learn by reading the book. In fact, I really enjoyed the movies more than the book in this instance.