15

In the movie True Grit (2010), second to last scene, where Cogburn rides with poisoned Mattie.
In the desperate attempt to save Mattie from the snake venom, Cogburn rides her (of Mattie) horse day-and-night to quickly reach a doctor. As I and everyone can imagine, the horse gets very tired in this race against the time.

Question is: why does Cogburn decide to kill the horse instead of simply leaving it in the wild?

  • 1
    It was a bit of a meme in old cowboy movies, so if you're talking about the original, it's a meme, the remake, they're following the plot of the original. – disassociated Dec 17 '18 at 18:43
  • Which True Grit? (1969) or (2010)? – Nick T Dec 18 '18 at 0:00
  • 2010, the latest one – mattia.b89 Dec 18 '18 at 0:01
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    @Tetsujin I think you'll find that the plot of the 1969 movie follows the plot of the 1968 novel. – phoog Dec 18 '18 at 10:36
19

The following is from the script at this link.

It would seem that they had ridden Little Blackie beyond a point of restoration, even choosing to cut the horse with a knife to drive it on. Given the foaming, and the unsettling noises coming from within the horse, Rooster chose to end the horse's misery. The horse was nowhere near a place it could heal. In Rooster's mind, he most likely thought it wouldn't even if they were close.

THE MEADOW

Mattie is woozy. As Little Blackie crosses the field at full gallop Mattie looks blearily at the littering bodies of horses and men. Next to Lucky Ned’s body his horse, saddled and riderless, swings its head to watch as Rooster and Mattie pass. Mattie’s eyes are closing.

LATE DAY

Mattie’s eyes half-open. Little Blackie plunges on, through a rough road in woods, but slower now, his mouth foaming. Rooster "Come on, you!" Mattie "We must stop." Little Blackie is played out. Horrible noises are indeed coming from the horse, but Rooster is grim: Rooster "We have miles yet." He leaves off whipping the horse and takes out his knife. He leans back and slashes at the horse’s whithers. Little Blackie surges. Mattie screams. Mattie "No!" A locked-down shot as horse and riders enter at a gallop and recede.

NIGHT 113

It has started to snow. Mattie is flushed and soaked with sweat. The horse is laboring for breath. Rooster gives inarticulate curses as he kicks it on. Mattie looks ahead: Barely visible in the moonlight a man mounted bareback rides on ahead. A sash cord holds a rifle to his back. He recedes, outpacing us, disappearing into the darkness and the falling snow. Mattie "He is getting away." Rooster "Who is getting away?" Mattie "Chaney." Rooster "Hold on, sis." Mattie is falling. It is unclear why. Her legs squeeze the horses flanks. Her hand tightens on the horses mane. Rooster’s arm reaches around to hold her. Little Blackie is giving out, going to his knees and then all the way down. Rooster hangs on to Mattie as the horse sinks. He pulls her clear, lays her on the ground, and then steps away from her, taking out a gun. The horrible noises coming from the horse end with a gunshot. Rooster reenters to pick up Mattie but she screams at him and claws at his face, opening fresh gashes. He ducks his head as best he can to avoid the claws but that is the extent of his reaction.

14

Ironically, it is an act of mercy. Cogburn knows that the horse is doomed to die. The horse will either starve to death, or get torn apart by predators and eaten. Cogburn shoots the horse to put it out of its misery, and save it from going through the torture of a slow, horrible death.

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