“We know that in the early Bronze Age very few people would get older than about 25 years. Most children would not get older than 5. Many, many women would die in childbirth, and a few would get very old, and these very old people might have had a very special status in the society.
It’s actually difficult to know whether our concept of children applies to this society, where you very quickly became a grown-up member of the community, even if you were only 10 years old, because of the average age of the communities that they lived in. That would mean that most people around them were teenagers, there were very few old people in this kind of society.
What this of course challenges, is our perceptions of age and responsibility. In many societies in the past, a teenager could be a parent, a full adult, a leader.”
Archaeologist Marie-Louise Sorensen, A History of the World in 100 Objects
The lead character is Mattie Ross, a 14-year girl who heads off into Indian territory with two lawmen to hunt down her father’s killer. This seems believable in the Wild West of the 1870s but something you cannot imagine today as her mother would probably be jailed for letting Mattie leave the house on her own.
I haven’t seen the original but really enjoyed this movie which has the Coen trademarks of great performances – especially from newcomer Hailee Steinfeld who plays the teenage Mattie and Matt Damon as the vain and pompous Texas ranger La Boeuf – quirky characters, unusual dialogue and one scene of graphic violence during which I had to hide my head in my hands.
These are all bought together by some stunning photography from cinematographer Roger Deakins – some snatches of which can be glimpsed in the trailer: