Cinematography and “True Grit”
There are only two things that a film has to accomplish cinematically to orchestrate a solid story. First, the film must be flowing. Just as any plot must float along a smooth current of tangible events, the cinematography must match that current. Depending on the style of film, different forms of this fluidity will take place; ranging from wide-angle landscape shots for westerns and post-apocalyptic films to handheld cam horrors and found-film documentaries. The second element the film should accomplish is the coupling of the story and cinematography to the sounds and events that take place within that story. For example; in “True Grit”, a western film about a stubborn young Mattie Ross who seeks out a US marshall to avenge her fathers death, the director uses Ross to portray a subjective point-of-view while introducing characters and playing out events. As we see the story through this young girl’s eyes we are further drawn in to her quest and her certain perspective.
Many of the scenes shot in the subjective point of view of Mattie Ross introduce main characters. The first major use of this subjective perspective is in the courthouse where “Rooster” Cogburn, a US Marshall, is sitting on a raised platform being cross-examined by two lawyers trying to determine if Cogburn is a murderer. Ross enters the court room from the back of the building, only seeing glimpses of Cogburn in the background as men block her view. As she moves around the courtroom to get a better view of the man, our perspective moves with hers and we begin to notice his certain “mean” traits: an eye batch on his right eye, unkept facial hair and very jerky, drunken body language. This introduction to the character Cogburn gives us the ideal image of a rough-andtough marshall with a lawless attitude, just what Ross was interested in to extract justice for her father. Not only Cogburn is introduced this way; soon after the trial, Ross walks...
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