Saturday, May 11, 2019

True Grit...

"There is no knowing what is in a man's heart.", Mattie Ross - True Grit.    
One day, I was doing some research on the Close Reads podcast and mentioned to the kids that True Grit was initially a book written by Charles Portis. Riley and Ruben had seen parts of each True Grit movie. They are John Wayne fans and asked to watch the 1969 movie in it's entirety. I proposed a book study first and they were both intrigued. We decided to include their dad and grandpa, so I ordered multiple copies of Portis' novel from the library and we each set off in our own direction to read.

A month later, we gathered to discuss. True Grit is the story of 14-year old Mattie Ross, who's father was killed by his ranch hand, Tom Chaney. Mattie sets out to avenge her father's death. First, Mattie goes to town to identify her father's body and settle the family's financial affairs. Then, she hires Reuben J. Cogburn, also-known-as Rooster, a rough and tough, hard-drinking, one-eyed U.S. Marshall, to bring in her father's killer. However, there is one condition, that Mattie must travel with Rooster in order to see that justice is served.

In the meantime, a young Texas Ranger named La Boeuf shows up also looking for Tom Chaney. He decides to team with Cogburn in his quest, but doesn't want Mattie tagging along. In the end. La Boeuf looses the battle and the three of them set off for their fugitive, who's hiding deep in Indian Territory. Their journey proves to be quite an adventure! Mattie Ross, a proud Presbyterian, is a wonderful protagonist that I would liken to Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn.

After reading and discussing Portis' novel, we watched John Wayne's 1969 Academy Award winning performance as Rooster Cogburn. With a G-rating, I would say it was an excellent family film! Then, we watched Jeff Bridges' 2010 portrayal of Rooster, which was equally good. Both Bridges and Wayne bring Cogburn's rough and tumble, but highly lovable character full circle on the big screen. The 2010 film is more true to Portis' book, but John Wayne certainly can't be beat in his display of true grit. Interestingly, the 2010 version is rated PG-13. It's funny to see how ratings have changed over the years. Both True Grit movie versions have some minor language and violence in them, but so does the book.

Whether it be True Grit or not, I highly recommend book studies with your older children. Sometimes while parenting teenagers, we get lost in the day to day grind of them trying to assert their independence. It is so wonderful to build family culture around books and movies. It creates a bond that surpasses the most difficult days. I can't tell you enough how much I love reading along with my older kids!                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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