I have not read the Charles Portis novel this coming Christmas release is adapted from, but from what I’ve heard this screenplay is much more true to the book than the last time this film was made.  In fact this coming soon attraction has lead the publisher to re-release the 1968 novel, so it is easier to get a hold of, it’s on my books to get list, so when I do I’ll post those 1st pages.

Aside from the obvious differences in the script format (the Coen brothers can get away with any format they want) there are a few key things to point out here.

Even though this was written by the filmmakers, they keep out overt camera directions, later on in there are a few but they are very minimal and do not slow the story in any way.

This is a very dialogue heavy movie, so the V.O. intro (and later bookend close) work well to enter us into the world and story through the protagonist.  And oh, what a protagonist/hero we have here.  This 14 year-old girl is smarter, braver and more determined than most adults of our time much less her’s.

She immediately tells us the premise and shows us the TRUE GRIT of the world and her character, long before Rooster Cogburn mentions the film’s title.  By page 6 we are intrigued by the world and anxiously concerned for the young hero. On page 7 we learn more about the antagonist and what she needs to do to see him come to justice.

On page 8 and 9 we meet Rooster, her partner and her B story, theirs is a love, hate relationship, but mostly love.  This is a fantastic set-up of character (Rooster’s) and it is an instant actor/talent draw.

Something very subtle happens at the bottom of page 9.  Mattie, our 14-year-old is spending the night with the mortician and he offers her a coffin as a bed. Her answer is ‘Not…yet.’  Which points to the fact of how smart she really is, she is not going into this quest half-cocked, hell bent on vengeance, she fully understands she herself may end up just like her father.

Page 10 starts to show us she is also quite a remarkable businessperson and certainly pays off as the story goes along.

Though a period piece, TRUE GRIT, is really the perfect example of a character-driven piece, which the Coen brothers do so well in any genre.


stay tooned…

2 thoughts

  1. Great stuff. Love the way the story gets rolling right from the first line. But I’m intrigued that the standard scene headings were missing.

    1. Yes, that’s part of the Coen’s unique formatting for this – which they can get away with given that they are also the directors and their status in the industry. I would not recommend doing the same. The sluglines are minimal throughout and for very large portions of the film, we are in the same location 95% of the time (and it is EXT.) They do occasionally use something such as EXTERIOR COURTHOUSE. I think there is no doubt they wrote this for themselves as the filmmakers, and stuck just enough to the basics of formatting so the crew and cast could follow. But all in all it serves to keep the focus on the character’s dialogue, which is very heavy throughout.

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