Last night, G. and I watched the Coen brothers’ production of “True Grit.” Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it seemed like the movie might be interesting to watch. It was a bit slow, we thought, and the script language a mite stilted. I was struck by how tall the fourteen year old girl was who played the heroine–and how reliant her character seemed to be on the threat of legal action whenever she found herself in trouble. Was this in the original 1968 novel or a Coen brothers overlay?
Life can be like that too, don’t you think? When sometimes you feel you have to stand up for justice, as Mattie did in avenging the killing of her father. She, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and a guy named LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) track down the villain, Tom Chaney, played by Josh Brolin.
In the final scenes, Mattie shoots Chaney, the recoil of the gun sending her down into a pit of vipers (literally!) where she is bitten by a rattlesnake. Cogburn races to bring her back to the Medicine Man who amputates her arm. Much is sacrificed in this story–the valiant horse that Cogburn rides to exhaustion and death; Mattie’s lost arm and life as a spinster. Twenty-five years later, Mattie misses a reconciliation with Cogburn by three days, taking his body back to bury on a hill nearby her home.
I was thinking about this plot later on. And I can recall times when standing up for what you believe in, no matter the onus or personal cost it extracts at the time, is still the right thing to do. There’s usually collateral damage along the way. Loss of family. Loss of a limb. Like Mattie, not knowing what the outcome might be, there’s no choice except to prevail. True Grit.