The Real West From the Smithsonian

True Grit (2010 film)
True Grit (2010 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


This is a documentary about the factual side of the novel, True Grit, and its two movie versions. I found it illuminating and I think you’ll enjoy it as well.


In America, we often assume that in the past was a nation of bedrock religious belief, hardworking, nose to the grindstone solid citizens and just general goodness. It wasn’t like that. It was messy and cruel – and for much of American history, religious beliefs were simply not that big a deal. Lincoln, for instance, was elected in spite of the fact, he was not a church goer, did not believe in life after death and possessed many other beliefs disturbing to the religious minded. Robert Ingersoll stood a good chance of being elected to the Presidency in spite of the fact, he is also known as the “Great Agnostic.” Don’t believe me – look these things up – find that reality that is American history.


Here’s my promise: if you study American history in detail and with a determination to understand from the point of view of a regular citizen, you will find a complex story full of sex, scandal and intrigue; and you will also find an incredible saga of courage and determination to build a nation unlike any other. I promise you that will love this country more as you work to understand it.


James Pilant



From around the web.


From the web site,


I can’t recommend reading the novel highly enough – both films fail to
capture much of the story, although because it’s a short book with vivid
dialog, both do follow it faithfully far better than Hollywood usually
follows an original novel.  The novel is dense with fictional details
that just don’t come out in the movies.  Also, the novel is all about
the voice of Mattie Ross, and neither movie captures that.  Movie makers
consider voice over narration the kiss of death, but I wish they could
have put more of book Mattie’s thinking into movie Mattie’s
performance.   And strangely Portis sense of the dramatic appears
superior to each set of movie makers because when each film diverts from
his plotting and scene setup they suffer.  Portis had a keen sense of
plotting and drama that both films wisely copy fairly thoroughly. 



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