Last week, we saw the first trailer for the Coen brothers' upcoming True Grit. This week, we get a longer theatrical version, which pretty much nails down the idea that the Coens' adaptation is sticking mighty closer to the tone and plot of the novel than the classic John Wayne version.
This is definitively underscored by the trailer's use of Johnny Cash's rendition of the old gospel/spiritual, "God's Gonna Cut You Down" off his American V: A Hundred Highways album. Wikipedia says Cash's version is "an arrangement quite different from most known gospel versions of the song. The song is presented with a rhythmic stomp-clap downbeat, grim and pessimistic in its portrayal of a vengeful and uncompromising God, serving as a warning to sinners." You can hear the song here, in a video by Tony Kaye that won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. The choice of this song by the Coens only makes me anticipate the film all the more as it definitely fits with tone of and particular biblical themes that run through the novel. That will make it a very different film from the Wayne version.
Which is now okay by me. As I've watched the Coens' version develop, I'm coming to conclusion that these two films will tell two different stories--but both of which are good and "true" stories in the sense that they accurately reflect who we are as human beings and the way the world works around us. The Coen version appears to be remaining faithful to the novel in both tone and the ending (again strongly hinted at by the silhouette of a grown Mattie Ross in the scene in the train station), which is a true and right ending for the choices by which those characters live. The tweaks that the Wayne version makes to the character of Rooster Cogburn (for which Wayne won an Oscar) and the novel's story allows for its different, more hopeful ending--which is also "true" in the sense that it fits with who those characters are and the choices they make.
And like the novel and Wayne version, the Coen brothers' True Grit is more than likely to keep bringing God-talk into these open spaces.