Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wild West

Andrew and I watched "True Grit" last night—the 2010 version directed by the Coen Brothers. It was fabulous. I have only seen a few of the films the Coens have directed—"O Brother Where Art Thou," and "Raising Arizona," both of which are fabulous, if not a little quirky. "True Grit" was also quirky and fabulous.

When Karen asked us how it was and if it deserved all the awards/nominations it got, Andrew said that it certainly did. It was "funny."

"Funny?!" I gasped.

It is not funny. It is a drama. But it is a quirky drama.

For example, there was not a single contraction in the entire script, which almost made the language sound stilted, especially when the ruffians were speaking, but somehow it ended up sounding natural. When Tom Chaney declared, "I am not happy," I wanted to die laughing...but because it was such a tense part in the movie I could not.

I'm, you're, and couldn't've were all I am, you are, and could not have.

There was not even an ain't to be heard, however you expand that contraction.

All day long I have been noticing how many contractions I use. I use a lot. I imagine they did back in the days of the Wild West as well. Even when I am typing I like to throw in contractions because it reads smoother to me. But the lack of contractions was a quirk I enjoyed, as unrealistic as it may have been.

The movie helped me to understand where the term "midwest" came from. The story takes place in Arkansas and Oklahoma. At first it was hard for me to think of those states as part of the Wild West...but they were. For some reason I have no problem linking Texas + Wild West in my brain but it took me a while to get over Arkansas. But when Mattie arrives to collect her father's body and you see that the train tracks end right there (but that they have obvious plans of going farther) it hit me that they really were in frontier county.

Arkansas was the end of civilization and Oklahoma was not even Oklahoma—it was Indian Territory.

"This is the end of the line," I remarked to Andrew in a monotone announcement voice as Mattie stepped out of the train, "As far as we go."

"You and your commentary," he said.

"I will stop," I said. But I do not think that I did.

Andrew was worried that I would not like the movie because it was a Western. I think that is because when he gave me my Kindle for Christmas there were two books on it—A Princess of Mars and A Christmas Carol. I had already read A Christmas Carol recently so I started A Princess of Mars. I read the first few chapters and it was a alright; a typical Western story. But then we watched a movie and a trailer for "John Carter" came up.

"Oh, this is the movie they are making for that book you are reading!" Andrew said excitedly.

"I do not believe I will finish reading that book," I remarked grimly.

I am okay with Westerns. But I am not okay with Western + Science Fiction. As I general rule I shy away from all Science Fiction (Star Trek is one of the few exceptions but I am in no way a Trekkie).

The movie "Cowboys & Aliens"? That looks really dumb to me. So does "John Carter."

Straight Westerns do not particularly bother me, but I think that is because my Grandpa enjoyed Westerns and thus my dad grew up watching Westerns and thus I grew up watching Westerns.

"They Call Me Trinity" comes to mind specifically, but I know that there were several other classics that my dad shared with me in my childhood. John Wayne is no stranger.

Andrew just admitted that he does not like Westerns—he thinks that "True Grit" is the first Western he has ever watched. So perhaps that is why he assumed I would not enjoy it—because he was having doubts about enjoying it himself. But it is the Coen Brothers so, naturally, it was enjoyable.

There were a few parts that had me holding my breath while doing my best not to vomit—one part I felt was particularly gruesome but that is probably only because of the recent accidents we have had in our own home. To try and not spoil anything, someone nearly bites their tongue off and we get to see blood pooling up in their mouth and spilling all down their chin. That part was bad enough but then another someone tries to pull their tongue out and I just about died. In the end they keep their tongue, declaring that "it will knit" and they speak funny for the rest of the film (accomplished by tying their tongue with a hair elastic).

I liked that the protagonist is obviously Mattie, who is headstrong and vibrant. Even though she is a child (and a female child at that) and needs a fair share of rescuing she also plays the part of rescuer an awful lot as well. So often female protagonists sit around waiting to be rescued and Mattie simply does not. I suppose Cat Ballou is another strong female character, though she did a lot more sniffling than Mattie ever did, as far as I can recall. Of course, I would probably do a lot of sniffling if I had to live back then in the Wild West, too. Still, it was refreshing to see a girl take charge of what was really an awful situation to be in.

"True Grit" was such an interesting story that I now have the book on hold. Because even though it was published in 1968 the release of the newer version of the movie brought it back into popularity (it was #1 on The New York Time's bestseller's list in 2010). Hopefully it comes in soon.

PS. I wrote this post—or tried to write this post—without using any contractions (besides the ones in my discussion of contractions) and it was really hard. I had to go back and take some of them out. I wonder why they decided to do the script that way...just another way to leave the Coen Brother fingerprints on it, I suppose.


  1. I noticed the lack of contractions in your writing today. :o)

  2. It is unfortunate that you do not like Westerns or sci-fi, because one of my favorite shows is both - Firefly.

  3. Amanda—you are the second friend to make that comment. :) My friend Tyne said the exact same thing. Perhaps I'll give Firefly some day.

    I enjoy historical fiction, which is why I think I'm okay with westerns though I am not one who typically seeks westerns out. :)

  4. I totally noticed that contractionlessness of this post. Normally I'd say contrationlessness is good for a woman as pregnant as you are, but it really was harder to read. :D