Adam C. Zern sounds off on the film adaptations of Charles Portis's True Grit:
"True Grit is an interesting book in that it has undergone two separate film adaptations from two very different time periods and filmmakers. The first film adaptation starring John Wayne was decent for its time, so I'm told, but hasn't aged very well since its release. The newest adaptation, adapted for the screen and directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen, is straight forward in its violence, unflinching with its characters, and exactly the film it should have been to reflect Charles Portis's excellent book.
I knew essentially nothing of Charles Portis's True Grit when I was given a copy to read. I consider it a masterful book with truly memorable characters and moments, and I believe that's what the most recent film adaptation of True Grit is so perfectly attuned to. It understands its characters, their simple-minded and guarded motivations, and it presents all of this in a very gritty and extremely believable setting. The two forces to be reckoned with, Mattie Ross and Rooster Cogburn, deserve the amount of attention given to them in the book, and it is their troubled yet caring relationship which adds a brilliant layer of sympathy over top of a story which could simply have been about revenge and very little else.
The film adaptation of True Grit starring John Wayne is a good example, in my opinion, of what could go wrong with an adaptation. (John Wayne was most certainly not Rooster Cogburn as much as a lot of people would like to believe). The latest film adaptation of True Grit by the Cohen brothers is a perfect example of what an excellent film adaptation should look like and more importantly feel like. I consider the original source material, Charles Portis's True Grit, and its latest film adaptation works of art and wonderful pieces of entertainment."
Other topics of interest:
Books to Movies: The Count of Monte Cristo
Books to Movies: The Princess Bride
Books to Movies: The Prestige
Adaptation, Please: Mistborn