The Dude goes to Istanbul

I’m off to Constantinople for the next few days to give a paper on the two film adaptations of Charles Portis’s novel True Grit, the first of which somehow made the novel seem less literary, while the more recent Coen Brothers version has renewed all kinds of interest in the novel as a 20th-century American masterpiece. In the paper, we’ll look at some differences between the films and the way they were publicized, promoted, and reviewed, while ultimately focusing on the form of “cinematic literacy” that runs through its latest screen incarnation. Probably the greatest thing about this little project (besides the trip to Istanbul!) has been the fact that it gave me an opportunity not only to revisit both film adaptations a few more times, but also to trace the 2010 version’s various homages to Charles Laughton’s masterpiece The Night of the Hunter. Others have pointed this out here and there before, and someone even took the trouble to put together a little montage of shots from both films. It doesn’t give the most convincing argument about the relationship between the two films, but it does include mesmerizing footage from two phenomenal films.

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