True Grit is a film that practically requires the definition afforded by Blu-ray (and beyond really), and that’s speaking for the 1969 original as well as this modern remake. Paramount’s completely transparent AVC encode lies at the heart of this near-perfection, resolving a limited, clean, textural grain structure. It has a lot to handle too, elegant panoramas of the central Texas plains producing rows upon rows of delicately defined shrubs or tall grass. Tree-laden areas produce an equal level of substantial fine detail.
True Grit is a dusty, dirty film, living up to a title that probably defines its look before it even starts. In this era of digital intermediates, the film can look instantly more “western,” or at least as how we believe it to be so. The film is then drenched in earth-based tones, pleasing oranges and browns in more open daylight, rich cool blues as the snow kicks up, and some intense blues as night begins to fall. Flesh tones, while giving what they have to lighting structure, are kept natural to match the believable palette under a more typical lighting scheme.
The novel is Mattie Ross's "true account of how [she] avenged Frank Ross' blood over in Choctaw Nation when snow was on the ground" (7.337). Frank Ross, of course, is Mattie's dad, murdered by a servant in 1875—when she's all of 14 years old. In True Grit, Mattie looks back on her quest for vengeance in 1923, fifty years later. The novel is set in Arkansas, a region Portis knew well: he grew up there before leaving Arkansas to serve as a Marine in the Korean War (1950-1953).