Monday, February 21, 2011

True Grit

AOG, Madrid

I don't like cowboy movies. I don't like Westerns. I don't like Country & Western music. 

I never have. I doubt I ever will.

I don't much care for cowboys beyond the aesthetics and the images of masculinity they portray. 

I liked Brokeback Mountain because of the story, but I hated that they were cowboys. 

I sort of like Hee-Haw for about 23 seconds back when I was a kid.

I don't know why this is. 

I grew up in Texas and Texas is a very cowboy-friendly state. And I don't have anything against cowboys or cowgirls. Just not on film.

So with this is mind, it is surprising that I've just come back from watching 'True Grit', the Coen brothers film.

It was a combination of things which made me go see it. 

The original catalyst was a friend from French class calling me up. Would I join them around 8:20 PM. 

I asked what they were going to see. When he told me, my first reaction was, no. Not in this lifetime. 

But then, and this all happened very quickly, my mind plucked a long forgotten memory from the past, and I changed my mind very quickly. 

You see, when I was a kid, my sister read 'True Grit', the novel by Charles Portis. 

I remember that she loved it. 

I never read it because, well, because it was a cowboy novel and I didn't like that type of thing. 

And so tonight, a couple of decades and a continent later, I thought, just to see what it was that she liked so much, I agreed. I would go and see the cowboy film.

No, I was not captivated from the start. In fact, I thought the start was a bit slow. But then, it did. It began to take a life of its own. The characters, the storyline, the, well, the everything about it. I have to say that I really liked this movie. But I also discovered something else. I discovered why it would appeal to my sister. 

She too had, has, true grit. She is a fighter. She always has been.  

I have always been the conciliator in my family, the diplomat. 

I signed the treaties, made the peace; and she fought the wars with guns a'blazin'. Yes, that is she. A real firecracker. Just like Madame Mère.

And I could see how a preteen girl growing up in Texas would find comfort in that book. She must have seen herself reflected, if only a little bit, in the movie.

You see, our childhood, was a very trying time for us. Moving all the time, changing countries, friends, schools, subjects, different cultures etc etc.

We somehow survived it.

As we all do. I envy those people who say they had an idyllic childhood.

Ours was not idyllic. It was adventurous and challenging. It was also interesting, exotic, cultured, and wild. Curious, moving, sad, happy, well, I think it was a lot of things, but for better or worse, it is now over. 

I never gave how we got through it much thought. But today, I got a small clue as to how my sister made it through.

I think this book must have given her strength somehow. It probably gave her a role model, a behavior pattern when faced with adversity.

It is so important to have a role model in life, even if it is only in fiction. 

I remember years ago when I was going through a rough patch, like we all do, I was telling her about it. And to this day I remember her words:"Stick to your guns!"

And at the time, I did. And I think, ever since then, whenever things go topsy turvy, I remember her words. 

I suppose she must have gotten it from Madame Mère, this fighting spirit. The two are so alike. And before you say it, no, I'm not adopted. I look just like my mother. 

And I have no clue where the diplomatic streak comes from since I don't think anyone in my family is particularly diplomatic. But there you go, authorship unknown, but still a fact. 

So I'm really glad I went to see this movie, and I will recommend it to friends to go and see it. It has everything a good movie should have: a beginning, a middle, and an ending. Believable characters, and a plot. 

Weak point? I'm nitpicking here, but the hoopskirts the actresses wear are not believable. From watching hundreds of photographs from the era, I can attest to the fact that crinoline skirts  had a different shape  and the fabric hung  and draped over them differently. 

I know, it is only a movie, but, like I said, it is the only thing that made me go "humm".

Will I go back to see another cowboy flick in the future? No, I don't think so. I may do, but listen, I hated back to the Future part III because of all the XIX century cowboy crap. Like I said, I don't like cowboy movies. 

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