No Country for Old Men

1. Novel

“No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy is a western gothic novel that bends the rules of grammar. Distinguishing himself among other nonconventional writers, McCarthy ignores punctuation and incorporates biblical themes. The dichotomy between good and evil is the most obvious example played out through the characters of Chigurh and Moss.

2. Film

The film adaptation uses the novel’s title “No Country for Old Men” and is directed by the Coen brothers. The film mostly stays true to the novel and it’s themes, however, the film version adds and changes a few minor details. For example, the novel tells us a bit of Chigurh’s backstory which helps to humanize him. Another big change is Chigurh’s appearance. The novel doesn’t describe his hair the same way the film depicts it. In fact, Chigurh’s hair adds some humor to the film, which some critics have been skeptical about.

3. Adaptation

As mentioned above, the adaptation was a huge success. The novel is mostly action based and goes little into the interior monologues of each character. This translated nicely onto screen, as the directors did not have to worry about how they would convey the interior make-up of the characters. The cinematography and minimal background music added to the audience’s submerged experience.

4. Resources

https://mubi.com/topics/is-no-country-for-old-men-a-modern-day-classic

This is a forum where people come together to argue whether or not the film will go down as an all-time classic in history.

http://arbitrarynonsense.com/2012/08/08/no-country-for-old-men-ending-explanation/

This is a review about the comparative endings of the novel and film and what this implies philosophically.

http://www.jstor.org.proxy-um.researchport.umd.edu/stable/41690656?seq=3&Search=yes&searchText=film&searchText=old&searchText=for&searchText=no&searchText=men&searchText=country&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Dno%2Bcountry%2Bfor%2Bold%2Bmen%2Bfilm%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff&prevSearch=&resultsServiceName=null

This article argues that “No Country for Old Men” is a prime example of nihilism and that the Coen brothers take this idea a step further in the way they deliver this piece of art. For example, in Carla Moss’s final scene she rejects the fate of the coin toss thereby achieving some sense of control over the situation which would inevitably result in death. As an audience we are not entirely sure that she has died either, due to her off-screen death scene. Though we know she does die in the novel. The article goes into how this film doesn’t satisfy the audience with the cliche Hollywood endings of justice. This film doesn’t sugar coat the justice system or offer any sense of order or meaning. The message is loud and clear: life is merely a means to an end, marked by chaotic randomness.

5. Argument

At one point in the film Sheriff Bell relates the case of people who tortured and killed seniors for their Social Security checks. Wondering why they tortured people, Bell says “maybe the television was broken.” Is this comment meant to reflect a criticism of violence in entertainment media (TV and film)? Or are the film-makers saying that graphic violence in entertainment media will somehow make violence less prevalent in society?

The theme of good versus evil is the main theme present in “No Country for Old Men” however, in the end evil prevails. Is it evil or chance?

The film “No Country for Old Men” reveals how Chigurh’s nihilistic beliefs are the best explanation for why bad things happen to us. In the final scene, Chigurh is in a serious car accident through no fault of his own. Chigurh is not outraged or shaken, he maintains self composure and accepts this incident for what it is. Chigurh is so complacent about the ordeal because it signifies the philosophy he lives by “If the rule you followed, brought you to this, of what use was the rule?” Chigurh sets out to live by a moral code in which he believes everyone who has crossed his path was meant to die. The entire film is then about his application of this rule, resulting in his senseless murder of innocent victims. The end of the film is ironic because if we apply Chigurh’s message then we see that the rule or code he lived by brought him to a potentially fatal car accident. This message is best communicated through Chigurh’s philosophy but it is also communicated by the director through the accident scene showing the audience that Chigurh’s philosophy may be the only possible explanation for why bad things happen.

 

 

 

 

 

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