Diction was apparently important in the wild west, at least if you believe the Coen brothers whose latest film True Grit envisions a world in which people of every station enunciate like Shakespearian actors. It is an odd feature for a western. I found it so strange in fact, that I actually started laughing during many of the dramatic scenes. “We have no rodeo clowns in Yell County.” As I was leaving the theatre, I asked my dad if he had noticed anything odd about it. Without pausing, he replied, “there were no contractions.”
As it turns out, this was the Coen’s intent. In a recent Newsweek interview, the pair confirmed that they wanted their characters to avoid contractions when speaking.
Q: DID PEOPLE ACTUALLY NOT TALK WITH CONTRACTIONS AT THAT TIME?
ETHAN: We’ve been told that the language and all that formality is faithful to how people talked in the period.
An outstanding analysis on 19th century speaking habits can be found at the following link with explicit discussion on this film and the novel on which it is based. The consensus? It does not bode well for Joel and Ethan…
Now for more spoilers. Because that is what I do.
If you have an issue with being covered by a nest of rattlesnakes, you should probably exit the theatre before the third act gets underway. Poor girl. And poor horse. Heck, poor snakes.
(The following blog post was contraction-free. Future posts will be rife with apostrophes).