With the Oscars Looming and True Grit nominated for Best Picture I am torn at the prospect of seeing one of my favorite books put to film again. The first rendition with John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn was an entertaining ride albeit not really true to the original story. John Wayne is without a doubt a great cowboy and it is not difficult to see him in the role of a loose cannon marshal working on the fringes of vigilante justice.
The real challenge for me is not the fact that I have a problem with John Wayne, or Jeff Bridges, or Matt Damon or any of the actresses or actors. It is that I have built images in my mind of the characters, story, and themes of this amazing book and those images just don’t ever seem to make it to the big screen. The problem with putting this amazing book to film means that a producer, and director, and actors, and editors had to make choices about what stays and goes in terms of story and content. When it is all said and done you have a story that I think reaches across many generations and has enormous popularity even when it is put on film. however you loose the essence of what makes True Grit a great book. True Grit is a great book because you get a chance to become intimately familiar with the characters through a series of uncontrived experiences. There is enough room in the writing of the story to let your imagination fill in the gaps of the characters that are not written into the story. You just cant put that on film.
I would love to see “True Grit” win the best picture award. It might be the nudge that gets me into the theater. Whatever happens if you haven’t already done so you need to go and purchase a copy of the book and read it. Go on the adventure with the characters, feel the angst of the story, and enjoy the opportunity to be part of a true adventure where there isn’t an explosion on every page, where money, sex, and violence are not the drivers of the plot, and where when you get to the end you feel a little bit of a pang of sorrow just because the story is over.