New vs Old: True Grit

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Which version did you think was better?

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New vs Old: True Grit

Post by Hammer_Down on Sun Sep 15, 2013 8:21 pm

Even if you aren't a fan of Westerns, True Grit is a fantastic tale of good ol' fashioned revenge and adventure. With the recent remake, however, there has been much controversy over which one is better, the new or the old. ***WARNING, SPOILERS BELOW***

The Plot: True Grit starts with the death of Mattie Ross's father. A man named Tom  Chaney was taken in by the Ross family and given a home and job, but had a very bad drinking problem. One night at the saloon, Tom gets drunk and robs Mr. Ross after shooting him. He then flees into Indian territory, and out of reach of the law. Mattie decides that if no one will do anything about it, she will. She enlists the help of Rooster Cogburn, a US Marshal who people say has "true grit". While Mattie wants to along with Cogburn on tracking him down and seeing justice dealt first-hand, Cogburn decides that this trip is no place for a teenage lady, and instead enlists the help of a man named La Boeuf (La Beef), a Texas Ranger to assist him in hunting Chaney down. They attempt to trick Mattie into being left behind, but  she catches up even though the ferry into Indian territory was out. They all go through a few leads which lead them to where Chaney was last seen, but at their next camp, Cogburn and La Boeuf decide the trail has gone cold, and are going to pack up camp and head home. As Mattie is going to refill her canteen for the trip home, Chaney appears on the other side of the river. When Chaney realizes who it was on the opposite of him, he kidnaps her and takes her back to his camp home to about 4 other criminals. The leader of the camp shouts a deal at Cogburn for her release. Cogburn has a short amount of time to appear in the valley far below. Chaney is told to watch Mattie, but is also told he is not to touch her unless she tries to escape. Meanwhile, down in the valley, Cogburn arrives on time, but is greeted with the entire camp, save Chaney. In true legend-of-the-west way, he defeats them all. Meanwhile, La Boeuf sneaks up and knocks Tom out. A few moments later, Mattie is looking down an abandoned mine shaft and is pushed in by Tom after he wakes up. She breaks her arm, and is bitten by a rattle snake. When Cogburn returns, he pulls her out of the mine shaft and rides all night into the nearest town until the horse dies of exhaustion. He carries her the rest of the way, and she lives.

The Old: (1969) starring Kim Darby as Mattie Ross, John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, and Glenn Campbell as La Boeuf. Directed by Harry Hathaway.

The New: (2010) starring Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, and Matt Damon as La Boeuf. Co-directed by Ethan and Joel Coen.

Best Mattie: Both of these movies' Matties are played very well. They are different, though. The Original Mattie is determined, and has a desire to overcome her fears, but the new Mattie, while being determined, is almost TOO determined. She is just unstoppable in her quest for justice, and is almost inhuman in her determination. The original is more realistic in her determination, and is at least a little scared to the obstacles that face her. She overcomes her fears, but shows that there was fear in the first place. The new is almost crazily obsessed. She is completely blinded with her own vengeance. While this may sound like a bad thing, it makes her more interesting. She is a no-nonsense, no distractions kind of character. Darby's performance was good, but it wasn't award winning. Winner: New

Best Cogburn: John Wayne is an icon of Westerns, playing in such classics as The Searchers and El Dorado. He will forever be known for his fantastic Western movies. However, John Wayne is always just John Wayne. He never plays anyone but an Old West lawman. Bridges has played many different types of rolls in his past. Jeff Bridges totally owns this roll, and he plays the perfect sad, pathetic, but also heroic cowboy. Winner: New

Best Supporting Characters: This being a Coen Bros movie, the supporting characters really make the movie. The characters show more emotion, and therefore are much better. In the original, La Boeuf is played by Glenn Campbell. He is naive, but still knows how to take care of himself. In the remake, Matt Damon isn't exactly naive, but instead very by-the-book. There is of course one thing that really made the remake better in terms of supporting cast. The Bear Man.

Best Villains: While I feel the new has a cooler looking Ned Pepper, there is no way Barry Pepper's acting could stand up to Robert Duvall's acting. The rest of the criminals are also much more interesting in the original. I liked how the main villain, Tom Chaney wasn't some mastermind. He was kind of dumb, and got himself into trouble when he got drunk one night. Ned Pepper in the original seems a little detached from the rest of his posse as if he didn't really want to be involved, but he got swept into trouble by a member of his gang. Winner: Old

Story: The main two differences in this movie is the story. In the original, you see Mr. Ross for a short while, but in the remake, he's dead at the beginning of the movie. However, the ending is what really sets these movies apart. In the original, Mattie Ross is in a sling, but seems to be just as happy as before. She says thank you for his efforts in killing Chaney, and John Wayne rides into the sunset as he is wont to do. In the remake, Cogburn drops off Mattie in town and vanishes. It cuts to years later when she is a 40 year old woman, and we find that she lost her arm to the snake bite. She seems cold and lonely, without much to smile at. She gets in touch with Cogburn and finds he joined a Wild West show, but died before she could see him again. She visits his grave, and that's it. I feel that the remake ending is far superior because of the realism it brings. A girl that was that bloodthirsty for vengeance just doesn't seem like she'd grow to lead a normal life, or have anything to be happy about. I think that this shows how empty an obsession like this can be.

So with that, the new wins. They are both fantastic movies, and I feel bad about giving most of the points to the remake, but back-to-back, the remake just has more to offer.


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