Joel and Ethan Coen

By Ansen, David | Newsweek, January 3, 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Joel and Ethan Coen

Ansen, David, Newsweek

Byline: David Ansen

'Raising Arizona,' 'Fargo,' and 'No Country for Old Men' defy categorization--except as Coen brothers movies. So what happens when the quirky duo from Minnesota decide to remake a John Wayne Western?

True Grit is the first Western you've ever done. Did you look at old Westerns? Ethan Coen: No, actually we didn't. We looked at very specific things, like horse stunts. We did not look at movies per se. Joel Coen: The problem with actually looking at horse stunts in Westerns is, 90 percent of what you could have done with a horse 20 years ago you can no longer do because of animal-treatment rules. Ethan: You can't complain about it, because it really did represent to a weird degree cruelty to animals. But God, it makes life really hard. Joel: Just to have a horse fall down, there are rules everywhere. And we were lucky in just that we had unbelievably great wranglers working on this. There's also the ability to do so much in the computer now.

Do you have a favorite Western? Joel: I didn't grow up as a John Ford, John Wayne fan. But there are certain John Ford Westerns I really like. I like Rio Bravo, and I like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Ethan: Totally from the other point of view, we both have always liked Sergio Leone. Once Upon a Time in the West is a great movie. And, you know, like Clint's crazy '70s movies -- Joel: Yeah, The Outlaw Josey Wales is a very good movie.

How much did you depart from the Charles Portis book? Ethan: The hanged man, the whole thing from the hanging through the bear man, is not [in the book].

There's a big scene in the original where they let Mattie cry about her dead father when she's alone. Joel: There's a moment in our movie where she's looking at her dead father's stuff in the boardinghouse, but she doesn't cry. It's more her holding it together. Ethan: It's the unflinching four-square Protestant thing that defines the character.

And I loved that you show her at the end as an older woman without an arm. Ethan: It's irresistible, you know.

There's the finger-chopping scene. I don't remember if that's in the novel. Joel: Well, you got to cut some limbs off. Ethan: Basically, it's 127 Hours. Joel: Except we don't actually show her cutting her arm off.

Hailee Steinfeld, who plays the girl, is terrific.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Joel and Ethan Coen


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?