When I was little I used to love watching old western films, with actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, with my dad. So, when the Coen Brothers, some of my favorite directors, released the trailer for their film True Grit I was very excited to see what they had done.
“Mr. Cogburn, in your four years as U.S. marshal, how many men have you shot?” is the line with which the trailer begins; a cold line that informs the audience as to what exactly True Grit will be; a classic good guys versus bad guys western. Rooster Cogburn, famously portrayed by John Wayne in the original film, responds “shot, or kiiled?” Within seconds its clears that Rooster Cogburn is the same no nonsense lawman as the original, and Jeff Bridges can pull it off. You can only imagine that the Coen Brothers wanted an exceptionally talented actor to fill the shoes of someone as legendary as John Wayne and I believe they hit a home run with Jeff Bridges; “Hitchcock pointed out; once a role has been cast, especially with a personality star, the essence of the fictional character is already established” (282). Jeff Bridges is someone who has proven himself, in such films as The Big Lebowski and Crazy Heart, to be a versatile actor capable of portraying just about anyone with extreme detail. Within 45 seconds of the trailer beginning the audience has already been introduced to two more celebrities; Matt Damon, who has won an Academy Award, and Josh Brolin, who has been nominated from an Academy Award. The creators of this trailer obviously sought to highlight the impressive billing of the film. By highlighting the impressive cast so quickly, the trailer is drawing a certain level of intrigue because of the credibility they have established with their well-rounded cast.
Many of the scenes of the trailer feature classic depictions associated with the old West, like a rather mysterious Indian riding toward Bridges or four men being hung in a small town. The Coen Brothers are two people who, like Jeff Bridges, pay very close attention to the details and that is something that this trailer is wise to highlight, as “when you present your argument, you want to appear authoritative and credible” (456). Of course, any western film isn’t short of action and the trailer makes certain to make that clear. The trailer has snippets of conversation talking about how the girl, Maddie Ross, is trying to find the man who killed her father as Johnny Cash, a American icon, is playing “God’s Gonna Cut You Down;” framing a tale of anger and revenge that is bound to see the score settled.
The original True Grit is an iconic film, and the trailer for the Coen Brothers attempt seeks to establish the rapport of their film by highlighting the experience present in their cast; and with a cast starring Bridges, Damon and Brolin I see that to be a wise strategy. The trailer also seeks to ensure the viewers that the film will be in an authentic western experience; something that I believe is made very clear.
So, In conclusion I’m going to have to give this trailer four out of five buckets of popcorn.