Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Country For Old Men: A Valuation of Humanity Within Desolation And Despair

“Whatcha got ain`t nothin new. This country`s hard on people, you can`t stop what`s coming, it ain`t all waiting on you. That`s vanity.” –Barry Corbin as Ellis, No Country for Old Men,(2007)

Adapted from a 2005 novel of the same title, No Country for Old Men is an award-winning masterpiece of the Coen

Brothers about drugs, money and violence. This movie, set in 1980 on West Texas, tells the story of Llewellyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a welder and Vietnam War veteran, who came across a drug deal gone wrong. He found several dead Mexicans and dogs, a stack of cocaine and $2,000,000 while he was out in the desert hunting pronghorns. He took the money which automatically set off a wild goose chase between him, the local town sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), other Mexican drug dealers and hired killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem). Moss sent his young wife, Carla Jean, away and tried to evade the people hunting him and instantly put his life and his wife’s life in danger. Another hitman, Carson Wells, offered Moss his help in exchange for some portions of the stolen money and yet both got killed by Chigurh in the end. Chigurh walked away free and Bell retired from his career.

The film, like any other Coen Brothers film, contained a lot of messages and themes that one had to uncover first in order to be able to understand it. All through-out the film, you can see repeated scenes of gore and mayhem all across the town as each one became both the hunter and the hunted. People were unstoppably murdered like animals (including Moss) all for the sake of the $2,000,000 that was taken. The film was full of vivid images of flesh, bones and blood gushing out of every man’s body like an endless crimson river and lives were extinguished one by one until there was nobody left. It also used very minimal musical score which surprisingly added to the tension that the movie was slowly building as the plot progressed. Only gunshots and rapping sounds of heavy metals can be heard as well as footsteps that made the film creepier than ever. It was disturbingly brilliant and will surely make a big impression on any viewer that tries to watch it.

The character development of the film was well-thought out that the viewers are not made to question the reasons behind the actions and attitudes of the main roles in the film. There was no clear delineation between the protagonist and antagonist, good and evil as well as morality and immorality. It was only violence, death and chaos.

The movie revolves around the theme of nihilism. Nihilism is a philosophy that was popularized in the late 19th century and was associated with a loose revolutionary movement in Russia (1860-1917). It emphasizes on the idea that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated. A true nihilist believes in nothing, have no loyalties and no mission at all aside from the desire to destroy. This philosophy was mostly associated with Friedrich Nietzsche who argued that its corrosive effects would eventually destroy all moral, religious, and metaphysical convictions and precipitate the greatest crisis in human history”*.

Nihilism, which was also one of the common themes in most of the films made by the Coen brothers, was very evident in the numerous bloody scenes in the movie. The most prominent thing that can be associated with it is Anton Chigurh, the creepiest character ever created on screen since Hannibal Lectern. Chigurh, who was literally death personified in the movie, is a relentless psychopath armed with a compressed air gun and kills people just for pissing him off or as he terms it “inconveniencing him”. His ridiculous hair cut and witty blunt lines made the film all the more gripping and electrifying as viewers sit breathlessly wondering about the fate of the person who had the misfortune to meet him.

Chigurh symbolized destruction, destruction that may soon take over us given the rate that our society is going right now. With the proliferation of material things like drugs and money, people are starting to lose all sense of morality and are stopping at nothing just to get what they want. It was a critique of the current status quo and a reminder of how alarmingly chaotic our priorities have become due to innovation and scientific discovery. As Sheriff Bell said in the prologue of the movie, he missed the days when policemen and sheriffs didn’t have to wear a gun and crimes were at the minimum. The changing world has brought us a lot of convenience and yet it also brought a lot of ways to hurt and inflict pain to other people.

The movie showed nihilism at its apex, men killing men; it was basically open season for everyone, morals and values set aside and disregarded. It was alarming in a way because if we look at the setting of the story, it happened on a desolate island where people rarely see each other, let alone talk every day. If something as horrible as this can happen in a vast area where people are free not to interact with each other on a daily basis, how much more possible is it in a dense developed city where all people are cramped into small spaces while dealing with the battle for modern survival? It talks about how complex socialization can be and how complicated it is that we are all entangled in these overlapping webs of interaction that results often to conflict and competition.

Another important theme in the story was the concept of free will and destiny. The simple flipping of a coin decides the fate of the life of Chigurh’s victims. His remarkable line “Call it...” can send chills to your bones and makes you realize how important decisions are and how they define one’s life. The contrast between the stories of the gas station owner and Carla Jean emphasized the message more that whatever happens, it is still a choice. The gas station owner’s life was spared because he chose “head over tails”. Carla Jean on the other hand chose not to choose but by sampling opting to not make a decision, she still made a choice and technically, decided for her life. It sends us the message that in this life, we have to pick whichever we want and “call it”; own it. Despite the uncontrollable circumstances that we encounter in our life, it still boils down to the choices that we made.

Lastly, the film tells us at how inevitable changes are and how fast and unstoppable life can be that even if we stop, it wouldn’t hang around the corner and wait for us to grow up. Instead, it will continue to go on and we have the choice whether to go with the waves and stay afloat or give in and drown ourselves in the ocean of challenges that life has to offer.



  • Internet Movie Data Base.
  • Keough, Peter. Quiet Men. November 6, 2007. (accessed February 25, 2010).
  • Pratt, Alan. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Nihilism . May 23, 2005. (accessed February 25, 2010).
  • Tobias, Adam. 'No Country for Old Men' is brilliant filmmaking . November 23, 2007. (accessed February 26, 2010).

Garnering four Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Joel and Ethan Coen), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem); two Golden Globe Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Javier Bardem) and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture; and three British Academy of Film Awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor, No Country for Old Men is a 2007 American crime thriller film which was adapted from the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name. Directed by the Coen brothers, the film begins when Llewelyn Moss stumbles upon a fortune left from a busted drug deal. When he took the money, this stared a series of violent events similar to a cat and mouse chase, with three men hunting and being hunted by each other. No Country for Old Men talks about the ideas of the capriciousness of fate and the pessimistic view on human nature.

“You can’t stop what’s comin’. It ain’t all waitin’ on you. That’s vanity.” is one of the more memorable lines from the film and this line encapsulates the idea of the capriciousness of fate. Spoken by one of the characters, it gives the notion that sometimes, the lives of the people can be changed in the blink of an eye and those changes may not necessarily be predictable and fair. This may then lead to the never ending debate on whether destiny or free will guides the course of the lives of the people. The film can be considered to advocate both, that a combination of both fate and the free will of an individual will eventually determine what will happen to him/her. True enough, this was shown from the very start of the film. It was fate which led Moss to discovering the money from the drug deal but it was his own choice to get the money. He could have called the police, reported what he saw and returned the money but instead of doing that, he chose to take the money for himself and this eventually changed not only his life but even the lives of those around him.

The flipping of the coin can also be considered as a symbolism for the idea of destiny vs. free will. As Chigurh was fond of, the decision on whether to kill or let someone live was dependent on how a person will “call” a coin. Although what will appear on the coin (whether it will be heads or tails) is beyond our control, it is up to us to decide on how we will “call it”.

The second theme of the film, on the other hand, has something to do with the line “The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure.” The line fosters the idea that there is a pessimistic view on the human nature, what is emphasized is the evil or the more imperfect side of the humans. This encourages the idea that humans are creatures who are capable of doing evil things and given the freedom to do what they want, they may not choose what is morally right. In the film, we are presented with a character who is willing to kill anyone who gets in his way and another one who is willing to sacrifice a peaceful and comfortable life in order to achieve material gain. These two characters may represent the evil in our society, the first kind of evil is such an extreme one that we may even be surprised on how harsh his acts can be and the second kind of evil is the one that is only developing, an evil which is not really inherent and that there is still a chance for it to be curtailed.

In a way, this is somehow related to the idea of nihilism (which can also be considered as another theme of the film). Nihilism is the belief that nothing is worthwhile, that life is pointless and human values are worthless. It also refers to the total rejection of the social mores, rejecting the established social conventions and beliefs, especially of morality and religion. True enough, Chigurh is someone who does not care about whatever rules and laws may exist in the country. He is content with following his own rules, although those rules are clear to him alone and to no one else. He is also someone who does not put importance on the lives of other people, not thinking twice about killing anyone who might come his way (although in some rare occasions, he decided to let the coin choose whether he will kill someone or not). Also, we are presented with a country wherein crimes are committed left and right, with the citizens of the country breaking the rules that were agreed upon in their society.

Another example of a pessimistic view on the human nature is the scene wherein Chigurh bought the shirt of the kid. Initially, the kid was willing to give the shirt to Chigurh for free, seeing that he was badly hurt but he eventually accepted the money that was offered to him. In a way this can be interpreted as a sign of how easily corrupted humans can be. At the same time, it implies how humans do not necessarily always understand each other. Chigurh was oblivious of the fact that the child wanted to help him out and he insulted the kid’s act of charity by offering him some money.

After focusing on the themes of the film, it is also important to discuss its technical aspects, and to explain how each of these technical aspects has been effective in furthering the message that the film wants to convey. The first thing that can be noticed about the film is its characters. Although we are presented with a psychopath, the characters are shown in such a way that we would not think of questioning why they were acting in a certain way. The viewers are made to accept the characters simply as the way they are and to focus on what the characters are representing. Chigurh, in the movie, can be said to represent evil, chaos and even death. He represents how evil may sometimes prevail over good in the society and how this may lead to death, not just literally, but also the death and the destruction of the values and the norms of the society. In an extreme, it can also result to nihilism.

Another noticeable element of the film is the lack of the musical score and sound. Minimal sounds were used in the movie and most of the time, large sections of the film were devoid of music, something which the directors had carefully planned. By providing “silence” to the viewers, the viewers are given the chance to focus on the story itself. At the same time, it gives the audience the chance to have more room for interpretation. The audience is given the time to reflect on their own and to think about what will happen next and what their possible implications might be. Furthermore, by leaving something out, the unspoken gives the idea that there is a deeper meaning to what is really happening.

After all has been said, it is important to consider why the film is given the title “No Country for Old Men”. If we consider the sheriff to be the “main” character of the story, or simply to take his perspective, then it really makes sense. From the very start of the film, the sheriff has already compared the events in the past and in the present. For him, the past was much simpler when people did things simply because it was the right thing to do. The sheriffs at that time did not even have to carry guns but in the present times, crimes are committed everywhere. In a way it is implied that the country is not really a safe place to live in for the people, let alone for the old men. The world is such a rough place to be in and survival is something that is hard to achieve, especially for the old.

The ending of the film though, is something that has been subject to many interpretations. At the end of the film, the sheriff is shown to be recounting his dreams to his wife. The first dream has something to do with lost money while the second dream was about the sheriff’s dad who was at the end of a tunnel, waiting for him while holding a torch in his hand. The first dream can be symbolic to the retirement of the sheriff. The lost money can signify the hope that he had lost. “I always thought that when I got older that God would sort of come into my life in some way. He didn’t.” was a line that the sheriff himself said. In his line of work, it is important that one believes that there is still a good side in the people. Unfortunately, the sheriff felt that he was unmatched by those around him and eventually gave up. The lost money can then signify the hope that he had lost, his hope that there is still a good side in the human nature. His retirement can then symbolize not just the retirement from his work, but also his withdrawal from certain positive ideas.

No Country for Old Men can be considered to be effective in trying to convey its message to the viewers. Unlike other films with similar themes, the movie is not preachy. Instead of presenting the viewers with the ideas of what they should do, the film showed the viewers what can possibly happen when one is tricked by Lady Luck and if one makes the wrong moral choices. By presenting a quite exaggerated version of a man who thinks that killing other people is a routine and that the lives of others are dependent on the flip of a coin, the viewers are shown the possibility that men may become merciless creatures someday, creatures with nihilistic characteristics.

The film is an important way of showing that although fate can sometimes control our lives, we still have the freedom to choose how we will let fate dictate our actions. At the same time, it emphasizes the idea that whatever horrors we might be experiencing are really because of our own doing. The challenge is then not to let the negative side of human nature take over, and to avoid nihilism before it actually gets worse.




Othello II/Lloyd said...

A film of excessive violence can also be an effective medium of political socialization. “No Country for Old Men” is a good example of this.

“No Country for Old Men” is a 2007 film directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen. It was based on the 2005 novel of the same name written by American author Cormac McCarthy. The Coen brothers also wrote the adapted screenplay for the film. The film received many prestigious accolades from different award-giving bodies including Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. Lawlessness, nihilism, and the debate between free will and predestination are the central key themes of the film.

In the film, lawlessness is highly emphasized. From the taking home of the money by Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) to the senseless killing spree of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), the film shows what it is like in a universe where there is gross disrespect of the law and disregard of society’s norms or anomie. The problem of lawlessness, as exhibited in the film, is coupled by pessimism on the part of those who enforce the law. The dialogue between Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) and Ellis illustrates the hopelessness of the good guys in defeating the bad guys. While it is true that the prevalence of crimes of different sorts is unstoppable, the pessimistic attitude of Ellis weakens the ongoing battle of the good guys against lawless elements. With this in mind, the film exposed the viewers to a realistic scenario wherein lawlessness is the norm and optimism is gone.

Related to lawlessness is the nihilist perception of human life which is also exhibited by Chigurh. Nihilism can be described as complete disregard of values, morals, and life in particular. In the film, Chigurh does not respect or give importance to other people’s lives. While lawlessness is a problem that can hardly be solved, nihilism – the idea behind the promotion of lawlessness by some people – is even harder to solve.

The debate between free will and predestination is also central to the film. Chigurh’s coin flipping, for instance, determines what happens next to his victims. By this, it can be said that there are things where people can do nothing to avert a happening as if it is predestined. However, his encounter with Carla Jean Moss contradicts predestination. Carla Jean’s choice of not calling Chigurh’s coin toss tells us that even in those kinds of cases, someone has still a choice or option on what will happen next to him/her.

To sum it up, Ethan and Joel Coen’s “No Country for Old Men” is a good movie. It is more than just a gory movie. The film is an effective medium of political socialization as it makes a viewer like this writer self-reflect on what values, morals, and norms should be upheld. It is also effective in sending across a message to the viewers that free will is supreme. No matter what situation a person is in, he/she still has a choice on his/her destiny.


rotcivcumigad said...

The movie No Country for Old Men follows three central characters: Llewellyn Moss, a young hunter who happens upon a drug deal gone bad; Anton Chigurh, a psychopathic killer; and Ed Tom Bell, a local Texas sheriff. The seemingly simple plot is that Moss finds (in the midst of a lot of dead bodies) a suitcase filled with over $2 million in cash. He takes the suitcase and is on the run throughout the story. Chigurh, who is somehow involved in the money exchange with the drug dealers, has one purpose in mind: getting the money back, no holds barred. Bell is the unlikely and unsuccessful hero of the story. He tries to save Moss’s life.

Nothing is new in the movie ‘No Country for Old Men’ in fact; we see it daily in the news. Violence, drugs, greed, money and murder coupled with inefficient law enforcement, we see that the film only depicts reality and nothing more. However, the theme that I think crosses all these negative qualities of man is that you cannot do anything to stop and control it, but all is laid out for us, we only just wait for things to happen. If there is one thing I learned about this film, it is the fact that we have little control of our own lives, in fact, we don’t even own them but rests on the hands of the people who might decidedly want to end it. Just a flick of a coin is all that it takes. The theme of ‘fate’ as we call it, is evident in many of the scenes in the movie. On how Moss found the suitcase full of money, on why Chigurh went in a car crash, on how the main character died, and of course, the notorious coin toss of the psychopathic killer are all attributable to the theme of the movie which is fate. Although there is some crisis in the characters where they try to battle with fate, it’s cruel that every time they still succumb to it. Just when the characters claim to know what’s going to happen with their lives, that fate proves otherwise.

Violence and selflessness are also main themes in the movie. The character of Chigurh is the embodiment of it. And the fact that he still lived on after the ending, after the fatal car crash, is the proof of it. He represents all the violence and selflessness in the world walking side-by-side with fate.


Czarina XD said...

Part 1

I look back to this film and all I ever wanted to do was to cringe and to completely—permanently—push it away from my mind. Indeed, a film’s impact through incorporating different techniques can be one thing, for that can dictate the relevance of the film. And yes, there are certain techniques that can be used to cater social and political issues through methods that seem to be unconventional for most people. But if it left so much shock to a viewer that all he ever wanted to do about it is to forget it, due to the graveness, misery and horror it unveiled, does that make the film an effective form of political socialization? Does one has to entirely disregard his “taste” just so he can try to make sense of a certain film because of its supposed relevance and the overwhelming need to become more open to cinematic eccentricities?

Through No Country for Old Men (2007), the film directed by the infamous duo known for toying conventions, the Coen Brothers, I can answer those highly personal questions. Adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel with the same title, No Country for Old Men is a meditation on American violence and the nature of choices and its consequences by following a chain of events that started when a welder, Llwelyn Moss, stumbled upon a briefcase full of $100 bills adding up to $2 million. This act of taking the money sparked an uptight crime chase involving Llwelyn, a coin-flipping psychopath killer, a handful of Mexicans and a retiring sheriff. This film harshly drew the line between its moral center and its peripheries. Found on the unethical extreme is Anton Chigurh, a stoic killer that is seemingly obsessed with chances, ruining one’s ability to choose, and at the same time, uplifting it. As confusing as that might sound, he adds more obscurity to the film by his lack of impulse as to why he turned out that way and his utter randomness, subjecting everything, including a life (or lives for that matter), under his own term. Couple that with his brutality and his creepy stalking ability, we get to experience gripping and extremely violent deaths that left me disturbed. But as much as the film tried to balance out his character through Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a strict, law-abiding officer who tried to salvage Llwelyn from the mess he got himself into, what ultimately stuck to me was sheer evilness as a force that is close to impossible to reckon with. And that constitutes to my lack of favor for this film: its ability to make me squirm and to want to entirely forget about it, even while watching it.

Czarina XD said...

Part 2

This was not the same as Poison when I got utterly distressed the first time I watched it. It is the violence and brutality in this film that derailed me from my watching experience, and that reflected my tastes. As far as I always try to broaden my mind whenever we’re watching films in this class, there is a certain degree that such openness can go on, and No Country is my limit. I did not like it because of its viciousness, because I’m not used to these kinds of films, because I chose not to watch these kinds of films, because I don’t like them in first place. But that does not mean I felt completely detached from the film. Going back to the questions I posted earlier, do I really need to like a film to be able to extract its meanings and its relevance? I distanced myself from this film to a certain extent, yes, but such gap is not as wide that I will choose not to entirely make sense with it. Thus, I realized, though others might not share the same, that it is not necessary for me to like a film to be able to appreciate it. It does not need a change in tastes to be able to unveil the messages within a film—and I just proved that to myself. As much as I didn’t liked this film and everyone in it, that does not stop me from absorbing the social and moral quandaries it portrayed. With that I extracted this film’s relevance that the existence of different forces in our society constitutes a dilemma, and that we are always subjected to it.

But hey, I can get all that—even without all the horridness and black humor.


Nons said...


Is man really free—making his own decisions and writing his own fate as he makes those decisions or is he really tied to what has been destined from him ever since he was born? That’s the question that needs to be asked after watching the Coen brother’s 2007 adaptation of the novel with the same title “No Country for Old Men.” It tells the story of man (Llwellyn Moss) who after finding a drug deal gone wrong was able to get the $ 2,000,000 from the deal. It set off a chain of events—people following him to get the money or to get the people following him—that in the end resulted to his death and the death of his immediate family.

At the crux of the story is Moss’ decision to take the money when he found out about the drug bust. He could have left it there and just reported it to the police or just take a part of the money and leave the rest there. But he took the money and this action was the start of a gruesome manhunt for Moss and the money. Was Moss really destined to get the money and die because of it? Or was it an unfortunate circumstance that he found the money and because of his character—how he really is or even his greed—resulted in the fact that he got the money and dies?

Another important part in this movie is the hitman that is following Moss—Anton Chigurh. A heartless man for all intents and purposes, Chigurh could be called the Devil’s Incarnate in the movie. He kills for no reason at all and delights in what he is doing. The movie really didn’t expound on whom or what Chigurh is before the events that were presented in the movie but because of this we are forced to wonder on what happened to Chigurh so that he becomes this killer. Was it the events that had happened early on his life that he had no control over and influenced him or was it his choice to become this person? We also need to remember the instances where Chigurh asked two different people to say heads or tails and call it. One of these two people died and the other didn’t. Was it because of Chigurh’s choice or was it because fate decided that they are better off alive than dead by making the person’s choice the right choice?

Nons said...


We see above the circumstances where it seems that either destiny or free will was the one behind the choices that people in the movie are making. It’s so hard to believe that there is really a destiny that is laid out for us. Rather, I believe that everything we do is based on our ability to analyze and decide what is best for us. We choose because we know this is the path where we could get the most utility from. Believing in that there is some sort of destiny laid out for every person begs the question of who laid those destinies. Pinpointing a specific entity that laid those destinies leads off to more questions—especially on why that destiny was chosen for us among others. Having free will means that we are in charge of what is happening around us and that we are only answerable to ourselves.

I think that in the end, what No Country for Old Man wants us to see that we must be in charge and at the same time, responsible for our lives. There is no such thing as a pre-destined path for us to follow but rather we make the path as we go along and make decisions. It all boils down to taking responsibility for the results of our actions. In the end, Moss was responsible for his death, albeit inadvertently, by getting the drug money. Chigurh was responsible for his bloodlust (if it could be called that) for not trying to reign it in and killing a lot of people. The sheriff is responsible for his retirement; for not believing that there is still something good in the world he lives in, because in the end, if one looks hard enough, there is always something good about this world. Llwellyn’s wife is partly responsible for her death because in not choosing to call in the heads or tails game, she gave Chigurh the choice to kill her. It’s all about the responsibility that is present because we are free to choose what to do with our lives.


tinborja said...


Since I missed the class meeting last Tuesday, I had to watch the movie alone in the dark of our house. Doing so was not the best of ideas given that the movie, the gritty game of cat and mouse that ensued took me to the edge of my seat most of the time down to the heart-stopping final scene.

This sizzling and supercharged action-thriller, awardees of many acclaimed institutions as Oscars and Golden Globe, is akin to one big coin toss- heart-stopping and breath-taking. It took me a lot of reflecting, rethinking, and rewinding to actually understand the film. Upon first watch, my initial reaction was- “what the?! That’s it? How did it get so many awards? This film is totally overrated.” Thinking it was just another gory film with the endless bloods and flesh flying on-screen with every unwarranted death, I was inherently comparing it with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre already and wondering how in the world it got so many Oscar Awards while the Texas Chainsaw did not.

Taking off from this, I watched the movie again, focusing less on covering my eyes and ears since I’m familiar with the suspense scenes already and focusing more on understanding the themes of the movie, the confusing ending, and the relentless and pointless violence it showed. Only upon much reviewing does one see the excellence of the film.

In its simplest, the dialogue is fun and eerie at the same time, the lack of background music and the silence of each suspenseful scene only adds to its brilliance of leaving the audience at the edge of their seat, the acting and the characters are nearly flawless. The plot, in its simplest, cannot be confused with the movie’s inner meanings and workings. The plot is unique given that one could look at it as having no climax or full of climax. There is no high point in the movie where the good guys triumphantly walk away and the hero saves the day. In fact, the plot is unique because it deviates from the normal good-guy, bad-guy fight since there seems to be no good guy in the movie. It was unpredictable from beginning to end- a factor which left the audience hanging for more.

The brilliance of the movie is not in the cat-mouse chase of Chigurh and Llewelyn’s, rather the brilliance of the movie is in the life of the sheriff and the multiple deaths that happened on the sides, the brilliance of the movie is seen in the little scenes and dialogues that are usually ignored when one is too focused on the chase.

The Sheriff lives the title of the film “No Country for Old Men” given that the whole movie would show how he is always one step behind the bad guys. The relentless and pointless violence of the killings of Chigurh leaves them point-blank confused in their old dealings of experiencing killings with motives. Indeed, the changing façade of evil leaves the Texan police clueless and groping in the dark to his retirement.

tinborja said...


Note though that there’s much more to the movie than an old man coming to terms with his retirement. The themes of the movie go beyond the unpredictable to try to understand the nature of fate. This is seen in the cat-mouse chase between Llewelyn and Chigurh, in the conversation of the Sheriff with Llewelyn’s wife where he wisely noted that even between man and cattle, nothing is certain, seen in the other hit man-Carson who’s entrance in the film is just as abrupt as his execution, plus there’s the ultimate play of fate with the coin toss, and the surprising accident that happened with Chigurh in the ending. In fact, the randomness of the accident is a perfect wrap to a movie themed with unpredictability. Chigurh, being the only one in the entire movie who appears to be in control and a master of everyone’s fate such that you fear for the fate of whoever had the misfortune of meeting him loses control as well when in one final demonstration of unpredictability, he sustains serious injuries in an unforeseen car accident. The scene gives one the feeling that even the one man who seemed to control everything couldn’t see what was coming.

There could have been no more perfect ending to a film themed with unpredictability and change. Unpredictability which is seen in the hanging scene between Chigurh and Llewelyn’s wife and unpredictability as portrayed in the car accident experienced by Chigurh. Change as portrayed in the Sheriff’s dream- a continuous change of the world to that which is inescapably evil such that even if those before us would try to rid this world of evil, its changing nature leaves it to be no country for old men.

Indeed No Country for Old Men is as much a coin-toss as any other film- In the end it’s up to you to make the call.

remegio said...

Capacity. Change. Choice. These are the three words that I believe that captures what the movie has conveyed to me. Capacity in the sense that people are very capable, able to do things that are good and evil. The movie concentrated on actions that we might consider as evil, the movie shows that human being’s capacity can be translated not just into something good but including bad things. Next is change, the theme of change is greatly exhibited in the movie such that no is immune to the winds of change. Everyone is affected by it. Change is so inevitable and compelling that it leads us to the third theme Choice. The movie thus questions the ability of self determination within the complex society where people are seen to have lost control of things happening such that everything is up to fate.

Due to the growing complexities of the society brought about by time alone, confusion and perplexity is magnified. Magnified to an extent where in actions of people are becoming inhumane. And in this state of the society, are people still able to control what they become or what happens to them. This question is then resolved by the movie in the scene where Carla Jean is confronted by Anton Chigurh when Carla Jean refused to go with the conditions of Chigurh. In the end it shows people are still the ones who determine what happens.

Considering the title, No Country for Old Men, it can be considered that the movie implies that in order to survive, flexibility and adaptability is necessary. Old not in terms of years of existence but being up to date with present ideas, conditions, circumstances and developments. We become old not because time passes by but because we fail to keep up with present changes. One manifestation of this idea was Chigurh’s creative usage of the oxygen tank. If Chigurh had used conventional weapons such as normal guns and ammo, life would have been harder on him specially that his weapon hid his criminal motives. On the side of Llewellyn Moss the chase would not have resulted in the manner presented in the movie if he was just aware of present technological changes and checked the package for transponders earlier in the chase. There is a clear manifestation of the idea that people should adapt to changes and not stick to what has been.

The movie is indeed very interesting and is able to elicit various emotions. Of the various movies shown in class, most of them have endings which offer partial or no resolution at all. The ending of the movie is open to self analysis and does not give an outright resolution. What’s good about it is that the movie becomes more resonant such that even after the movie we try to think about it and find meaning in it. In the end I agree with the main entry authors that this film is effective in conveying its message aside from the fact that is has top class cinematography.

katwinny said...

Do we have total control of our lives?

Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men is a film full of bloody killings and evil acts but lacks the emotions it portrays which a conventional movie has to offer. Instead, using minimal sound effects but rich in visual art, the film leaves to the viewer what and how to react on different scenes.

The characters of Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh and Sheriff Ed Bell are in a constant cat-and-mouse chase. Everything started when Moss got the money in a failed drug deal, and Chigurh goes after him to get the money. With several deaths involved along the way, it is Bell’s job as the Sheriff to go after Chigurh. With Chigurh’s creepy aura and his unusual weapon, I could not help but feel nervous and scared with every thing he decides to do.

The film uses minimal sound effects which makes it scarier. One of the scenes that I think I’ll remember for a long time is in the gas station when Chigurh used a coin toss to decide the fate of a man. There were no sounds other than the dialogue of the two. Whatever the viewer may feel only depended on the lines of the actors and their acting. Also, the ridiculous haircut of Javier Bardem really helped to make him look like someone whom you’ll be afraid of having such a conversation with.

The soul of the film relies on the issue of structuralism versus intentionalism. Do we have control of our lives or does it depend on the different circumstances that shape it? Moss did not have control on the dead bodies he found in the desert, but that choice was his when he decided to get the money and go back to help the dying man. These choices eventually led to his death. On the other hand, the character of Chigurh tells us that our lives are shaped by events that are beyond our control. As was seen on a coin toss, we can recognize that our life does exist but its outcome will be decided by fate. Of course, there is a midpoint for these two and Carla Jean shows this to us. She decided to not pick a side on the coin toss. Even though she still died, at least she held the conviction that her life won’t get to be decided over a coin toss.

The film shows how humans are perceived, not as evil per se, but when circumstances arise and decisions are to be made, as having the tendency to choose to do evil things. This is shown when Moss got the money but at the same time risked his life to get back to the crime scene and give water to a dying man. Another scene was when Chigurh got into a car accident and the boys who saw him were willing to give help for free but when offered with money by Chigurh, they still accepted it. As I see it, humans are weak when it comes to the temptations.

Violence is the fuel that drives this movie. The viewers may think of the film as a portrayal of everything that is evil in our world today. Still, I appreciate this movie because of its uniqueness. I do not mean the endless deaths that happened in the film but the general idea that the film offers: sometimes there are no protagonists and antagonists, only humans full of imperfections trying to survive in this world. It is refreshing to find a movie where you won’t find yourself choosing which side you are on.

‘No Country for Old Men’ makes you realize that thriller movies are not always rich on visual display but lacking on depth and meaning. Both can exist at the same time and they certainly did in this film.


denisefrancisco said...

As humans, we are given the freewill to choose what we want to do and which path in life to take. However, it is a reality that each action has its consequences. Such can be classified as either good or bad. As part of the society, it is inevitable that the actions we choose to do have an effect on those around us. Some effects may be direct, while others ought to be felt indirectly.
In the movie, it was seen how the decisions that we make affect our lives and that of the people around us. This is where the issue of freewill and destiny come in. With the numerous choices and situations presented to us in our day to day existence, we have the choice of seeing each of these things as either destined to take place, therefore we take advantage of what we believe was meant to happen, or something that should be evaluated based on how we see them, therefore having the privilege to either reject or accept them, based on our personal views. Just like in the case of Moss, discovering the large sum of money from the drug deal offered him two choices: to see it either as a destiny to get rich and give her wife Carla Jean a better life, or an opportunity to weigh the situation properly before taking any course of action. And as a result, his freewill made him decide to take the money. Taking the money out of his freewill caused his destiny. And in this case, it was his destiny to be involved in an unending chase which involved him, sheriff Bell, hired killer Chigurh and other Mexican drug dealers. In my opinion, using his freewill to choose to get the money caused his destiny of being killed. If not for his selfish desire, he would have not been involved in this very complicated web of chasing and killing, being in a confused situation where you don’t even know who your enemies exactly are and fearing for your life 24/7. In fact, it was not only him who experienced the consequences of his actions, but as well as Carla Jean who in the movie was portrayed as someone who has just decided to accept her destiny of dying in the hands of the Chigurh.
The movie gave emphasis on humanity. In my opinion, it presented human beings as being vulnerable when it comes to making choices. Despite claims that humans are now becoming more rational when it comes to decision-making, it is still undeniable that choosing from a variety of options that claim to offer the best deals in life may cause us to succumb to our weaknesses. In fact, I believe in the idea that there is no decision which may be named as the best choice. Every decision we make has something to offer, both good and bad. Therefore, what we take into consideration in weighing our options are those choices that provide us with the least negative consequences, and those that are less harmful to us and the people around us. This is where the importance of freewill comes in. Because we have the option to make a decision on which choice to take, we therefore make our own destiny. Destiny is something that was not dictated to happen at the beginning of every story. We ourselves choose our own destiny. And the manner we choose such is based on how we make decisions through our freewill. Therefore, the things that we experience are consequences of which path we chose to take. We have the choice to make certain things happen. That’s why it is true when they say that things happen for a reason, because the choice that we made is the reason.
In making choices, it is important for us to be equipped with an open mind. A mind that is able to recognize between what is good or evil.


migscardenas said...

I always figured when I got older, God would sorta come inta my life somehow. And he didn't. I don't blame him. If I was him I would have the same opinion of me that he does.
- Ed Tom Bell

After the films, Blood Simple and Fargo, the Coen Brothers comes up with another compelling yet afflicting movie. Adapted from a novel by Cormac McCarthy with the same title, they were able to create a film which explored the complex nature of man and his relationships with others in society. The movie starred Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin. Each of these actors significantly portrayed roles which are distinct with each other.

Many say that the movie is overrated but I’d like to think otherwise. The first time I watched No Country for Old Men, I really had no idea what the movie was all about. I was just interested in the fact that there were a lot of gory and morbid scenes. It wasn’t really a disappointment when it comes to that but focusing on that aspect I was able to miss the very essence of the movie. By watching the film for the second time, I was able to appreciate it beyond its superficial features. All the more, the different scenes helped in enhancing the way the message of the film has been conveyed.

One can notice that the movie deviated from how a conventional thriller was shot. For one, there was not much dialogue. Many considered the movie dragging simply because the movie did not have many conversations. Personally, rather than a drawback, it was able to intensity the tension because of the mystery as to what the characters were thinking. Also, the film did not utilize much sound effects that are usually present in movies of this particular genre. Despite that, the film undoubtedly was successful in its attempt to provide a feeling of sudden fear to the audience. The silence coupled with the emptiness of the surroundings (given the desert setting) allows the audience to get lost in the ‘nothingness’ that the film seems to portray. I think this is where the cinematic gifts of the Brothers come in. Their technical prowess can hardly be observed in many contemporary and mainstream directors.

migscardenas said...


The seemingly cat-and-mouse relationship among the characters shows how dangerous the environment where we live could become. Chigurh was a psychopath who kills relentlessly without forethought or even remorse. He is a personification of the irrational man. He may know what he was doing but he doesn’t know the reason behind his actions. He is motivated simply by his desire to take the lives of different people. On the other hand, many people may relate themselves to Moss. He is a person driven by his desires while somehow pragmatically keeping his morals. He may have grabbed the opportunity when he saw a suitcase full of cash, but he doesn’t kill people incessantly. Basically, the film is about a world that’s moving on and leaving its once-proud lawmen and protectors to stare blankly at the savagery around them, even as they long to return to a time when things felt simpler, even if they never actually were.

The film also tackled the issue of whether lives are tossed about by chance or by voluntary decisions. The Brothers somehow showed a combination of both in the movie. The tossing of coin by Chigurh in determining the fate of his potential victims are proofs that there are things in life which we cannot control. We sometimes have to let the winds of change lead us where we are supposed to go. However, there should also be a conscious effort to actually try to be the driver of one’s own life. A person should not only depend on fate but more so, he should learn how to make decisions for himself. By the end of the movie, Moss’s wife decided without even looking at how fate could’ve change her decision. She knew the consequences of her decision but she still pushed for it. That was a clear demonstration of how humans are able to take over their lives even if there are a lot of pressures in society.

Generally, No Country for Old Men is a highly impressive film that is both imaginative and intelligent. The success of the film lies in part in its unconventional form compared to other mainstream movies. Many would argue that the film is overrated, but if you take the movie seriously you can actually pinpoint many aspects which contributed to the brilliance of the film. The movie gave us room for many interpretations about its content. It is very interesting how people who watched the film come up with different analyses not just with the characters but also with the themes that the film tried to depict.

Miguel Cardenas

Anonymous said...

If film is a mediated representation of a particular social milieu, its examination requires locating the film within the context associated with its production. In doing so, the aesthetic is transformed (perhaps reduced) to its immediate social environment. This, to some extent, explains the difficulty in examining formal (aesthetic) elements of a particular film and its political content simultaneously. If we are to uncover the mediated realities in the film, for instance, we, more often than not, detach it from artistic scrutiny, focusing instead on the political realities and perspectives presented in the film, although genre and form may limit such presentation.

At any rate, two historical milieux may be said to provide the social context for No Country for Old Men (2007): the setting of the events in the film and the novel from which it was adopted and the social environment in which the film was produced. The screenplay is set in West Texas and the US-Mexican border in the 1980s, when drug trafficking “reached new heights (or perhaps more aptly, new depths.” It was observed that in the said period, “drug traffic...was increasing and bringing its violent effects to remote sections of the US.” Certainly, the film depicts this issue in its plot. The more interesting part however is how it is depicted. Like many of the Coen brothers’ films, the development of the plot goes from the characters in seemingly simple situations to getting trapped in situation gone horribly wrong, “situations beyond their control.” This, together with the complex and contradictory spatial context (“beauty, danger, isolation, ruggedness, indifference), helped develop the choice-fate-themed plot observed by the main entry authors. By arguing that the film depicts the circumstances during the said time period, however, explains away the perceived nihilism as part of auteurship or authorial authority over the film. Nihilism, in this case, becomes a textual effect and is applied as required by the social reality the film attempted to define. Still, it may be said that the time period adopted in the film was used to stage the nihilistic illustrations of the Coen brothers (in which case the juxtaposition to the drug trafficking in the 1980s will become disputable).

The more interesting historical backdrop associated to the film, however, is the escalated Iraq War and the post-9/11 world, in general. In this case, No Country for Old Men becomes a reaction to the reality where violence is increasingly becoming “an unquestioned part of the state of things,” not something extraordinary or marginal. The “old men” in the title forwards a contrast between the ‘old’ times and the contemporary period. Sheriff Bell, as one old man, is isolated in the film not because of his age “but because of his innocence, his adherence to an ethic that was suddenly rendered out-of-date.” Further, Bell characterized the violence displayed in the film as being “hard to even...measure.” With that, the film becomes a demoralizing vision of the “utter brutality of everything and everyone.”

Such can be argued to be a reflection of the post-9/11 situation. Jim Grinnell observes in the novel from which the film was adopted: “ spin more and more out of control. Bloodletting begets bloodletting until killings are spread out over nearly two-thirds of the Texas-Mexico border...Once matters are begun, many of the outcomes are inevitable.”Within such a beautifully executed nightmare, the film becomes a search for rationalization and meaning.

In the end, the film presents itself as a moral tale. Though in an ironic way, No Country for Old Men offers hope. Loyalty and love provides meaning where there would be none.


lenggaleng said...


No Country for Old Men (2007) by the Coen brothers is a perfect adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s praised novel. This violent and thrilling film tells a cat-and-mouse story of Llewelyn Moss, Anton Chigurh and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. As Moss discovers a case that contains 2 million dollars in a drug deal gone wrong, he decides to keep it. That is the time when the evil and heartless psychopath Chigurh starts to hunt Moss to get back the 2 million dollars that he stole. Meanwhile, as Chigurh hunts Moss, the old Sheriff Bell chases after the evil psychopath not only to help Moss, but also to stop his wrongdoing of murdering people, whether they’re innocent or not. At the end of the story, Sheriff Bell was unsuccessful in helping Moss and especially, capturing the notorious killer, Chigurh.

I think that there are a lot of binary oppositions that can be found in this film. There is the good vs. evil theme, the life vs. death theme, the free will vs. fate/destiny theme and the order vs. disorder theme. One can see that the good vs. evil theme in the film is that Sheriff Bell represents the ‘good’ and Chigurh represents the ‘evil’. Moss, on the other hand, represents both the good and evil as a character in the film. He represents the ‘good’ as he helped out an injured Mexican stranger by giving him water and at the same time, he also represents the ‘evil’ in the film as he decided to keep the 2 million dollars that he had found even though it does not belong to him. There is also the life vs. death theme in the film as Chigurh shows the importance of life to his victims before he kills them. In other words, I think that the victims do not realize the value of their lives until Chigurh decides to kill them. Moreover, related to Chigurh’s killings, the free will vs. fate/destiny theme can be found in the film as Chigurh kills some of his victims based on their decision whether to ‘call it’ or not on his coin, which is a free will since it is determined by the victim. On the other hand, when a victim ‘calls it’, suddenly his or her fate/destiny suddenly depends on the flipping of the coin, which obviously cannot be determined by the victim himself. Lastly, there is also the order vs. disorder theme in the film as Sheriff Bell represents the order and Chigurh represents the disorder in the film. It is Sheriff Bell’s duty as a cop to put order in the society by capturing those who cause disorder or chaos such as outlaws like Chigurh.

lenggaleng said...

Part II

Now looking at what is political in the film, I think that the significance of following the laws is shown in the film as no longer significant, since the society had already changed its morals. There are new ways to avoid the law, such as Chigurh’s use of the weapon for killing cows as his weapon for killing his human victims. In that way, he would not be traced and captured right away by the cops. Furthermore, if a society’s morals change, this means that there should be new laws to be implemented as well. As Sheriff Bell represents the old law in his society, he could not capture Chigurh, who happens to represent the changed morals of the society. As time passes, what is important and is powerful to the society before may not be as important and as powerful to the society today. Needless to say, laws should respond to these changing times, because if not, there would still be disorder in the society.

Furthermore, I think that the structure-agency problem can be applied in analyzing this film. Did Chigurh’s society shape him the way he is today, or did Chigurh himself shape his society into a chaotic one? Though it was mentioned in class that there were no established explanations for the characters’ behavior in the film, I think that one can search for the justification of a characters’ behavior or decision through the context. An example of this was Moss’ decision to keep the 2 million dollars. Though there was no reason given as to why he decided to keep the money in the film, I can see that it was a reasonable thing for him to do so because first of all, he lives in a trailer van, which means he is poor. Another reason for this is that he has a wife, and sooner or later, they will have kids. Certainly, Moss would want to give his wife, Carla Jean, all her material needs. One last reason is that, it is obvious that Moss lives near a desert, which means life near the desert is hard since there are no natural resources to be found in there. It is hard for him to earn lots of money since his work is a not so high wage-paying job. In other words, one would just have to look at the other visual details of the film to fully understand the behavior of the film’s characters.

All in all, though I did not really like the main story of No Country for Old Men, since I think that it was senseless, I really liked its cinematography. I liked how the small visual details were shown here in this film. I especially liked the thrill and the suspense that it gave me as Chigurh was hunting for Moss. Furthermore, the role of Chigurh was a very effective one since he really scares the hell out of me, up until now. Thus, I still recommend this film for other people to watch since it made me realize how important my life is.



Daben said...

Any story would seem incomplete if it doesn’t have a protagonist and an antagonist. A script should always have a conflict to resolve in order for it to be interesting and be appreciated by the audience nowadays. The narrative should be linear in form; having a slow and steady start, a climax, then a resolution. These are some of the things common to all the stories that comes out in the market whether local or international media. Many people believe that it is the way to create a good story. The movie “No Country for Old Men” proved these beliefs wrong.

“No Country for Old Men,” a 2007 film by the Coen brothers based on a novel having the same title by Cormac McCarthy, abolished the tradition that in order to produce a good narrative a writer must follow a common flow of events. It presented a totally different variety of entertainment for the viewers of the movie. The story revolves around the three characters; Moss, Tom Bell, and Chigurh and their quest to owning the 2 million US dollars that was lost during a failed drug trade.

The unusual thing about this movie is that there is no clear cut statement who is the protagonist or antagonist in the story. The audience can only speculate because of the difference in the length of character appearance. However, any of the three characters can fit in to be the protagonist or the antagonist depending on whose point of view the audience will observe. For example, Moss can be portrayed as the lead character because he was the one usually focused on by the movie. He was able to locate the scene of the failed drug deal and eventually found the money so he was being chased by the other character, Chigurh. Tom Bell on the other hand, can also be seen as the main character because he is the one depicted as the savior in the movie. He was the one who should have protected Moss from trouble. His voice also was the one from the narration in the beginning of the movie and he was the only person confirmed to be alive at the end of the film. The last character, Chigurh, may be the most unpopular of the three because he is a killer and a schemer but he gives flavor into the story. His unstable personality makes his next moves unpredictable, even though it is obvious that someone will die, the audience will still be curious on how it would turn out.

This variety from the usual way of presenting characters made the movie a good watch. It does not depend on the traditional way of building up characters that most movies does. Instead, it opens up new opportunities to improve further the film-viewing experience of the audience.

Change does not always mean throwing away of traditions. It can also mean improving old traditions to fit the demanding and ever changing world we live in. It does not only apply in film-viewing but in all other aspects of living.

Mendoza, A

Kristine Camia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kristine Camia said...

No Country for Old Men is an award-winning masterpiece of the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan Coen) that tackles issues of humanity, morality and free will. It is based on Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same title. This film dwells on the story of a hired assassin and a psychopath’s (Anton Chigurn) chase for Llewelyn Moss who stole $2 million from a failed drug transaction.

I have a big faith for people. There is always the belief in me that humans are inherently good and that they will always make their decisions and behave in such a way that is not harmful to others. This sound very idealistic but I just can’t make sense on why people would want to bother and hurt other people and make their already complicated life more complicated. However, this film made me doubt this belief and think that life can be really harsh and hard.

Anton Chugrin’s character, specifically, made me think again of this idealist belief of mine. The film through his character showed us the dark side of humans, the side of us we all must fear. Seeing him kill innocent people without any regret will make you fear the human capability. His way of killing shows how he regards human life. It is just unfortunate that we were not able to know the reason (maltreatment, childhood experiences etc.) behind his behavior for it was not shown in the film. But I guess this part was not added in the film (although the directors/writers may have the chance) because they want to communicate that there could never be enough reason/s to be that brutal.

This optimism is also the reason why I don’t like the character of Llewelyn Moss or to be more accurate, his decision to take the money. His character depicts a man of discontentment. He had a quite life with his lovely wife but he aspired for more. There is nothing wrong about aspiring more but there are several right ways to attain these aspirations. In Moss’ case, he knew where the money came from and still took it. And as a consequence of what he did, he together with other people died in Chugrin’s hands.

Through Chugrin’s character, the dark side of humanity was showed while through Sheriff Ed Tom Bell’s character, the positive side was depicted. Sheriff Bell is an example of a person who maintains calmness and reason despite the chaos around him. Of all the crime happening in his county, he kept his fate that it will soon come to an end and all people that are responsible will be sent to jail. For many years he did not stop hoping for this. But like everything else, his fate has a limit. When he failed to save Moss, he reached that limit and decided to leave the service.

And lastly, it may look unimportant and negligible at first but the character of Moss’ wife, Carla Jean showed free will. At the end of the film, when Chugrin went to see her and kill her, she decided and chose not to put her fate in a flip of a coin. She made a choice and accepted its consequences. This may not be the best choice for she may just have called the coin and took the chance of being spared from death. But she made a choice and refused to give the coin the power over her life.

With all these rich character coming together in one film, No Country for Old Men is truly a good movie. It will give you the thrill you usually get from action films, the goosebumps of a horror film and the emotions from dramas. But most importantly, this is a provoking film that will make you visit again your beliefs on humanity, morality and fate.

jolly said...

“Call it. Just call it.”

The Coen Brothers’ 2007 American crime thriller, No Country for Old Men, paints a stark look at how individuals would leave their chances up to fate and face the consequences of their actions based on circumstances not of their own doing. It is not for the faint-hearted, for like most of the films that Joel and Ethan Coen have shot, it is indeed an exploration of the darker side of human nature. At every gripping and wretched scene of blood and gore, there seems to be a deeper scrutiny of the forces that push the characters to their purpose.

No Country for Old Men is a cat and mouse trail that goes back and forth among three central characters: the welder and hunter Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who accidentally takes hold of two million dollars that was once in the possession of drug dealers caught up in a slaughter; Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), the blood-curdling psychopathic killer on the hunt for the custodian of the money; and finally Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), the reserved overseer of the investigation who struggles to overcome the overwhelming responsibility of the crime. It is interesting to note that these three men never intersected in a single scene. As Moss and Chigurh increasingly cut to the chase, we see bodies pile up, justice being undermined, and morality being questioned.

One of the prevailing themes in the well-crafted film (after all, it did not win numerous awards for nothing) is its concept of lawlessness and nihilism. As defined in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it is “the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated”. For moral nihilists, morality does not inherently exist, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived. The character of Chigurh epitomizes this sort of belief, for he acts without mercy and consideration to his victims. Flipping a coin and determining whether a person lives or dies based on heads or tails is ruthless, yet it does serve a purpose: it inevitably brings him closer to his objectives. The very fact that he, and other characters in the film, would kill anyone who stands in their way shows the kind of society that does not tread on given moral standards.

This aspect of the film was chillingly put across by the filmmakers’ clever use of techniques, one of which is the lack of musical score. In the vast and barren Texan backdrop, the absence of music to heighten to downplay certain emotions in a scene only increased suspense, for it took away an experience of the viewers that they expected from this kind of movie. The audience will thus be more susceptible to surprise if this is the case, further deeming the movie important at its own right.

As a whole, the Coen brothers proved effective in provoking those who have never encountered nihilism as a formidable force in society. It questions our bases for morality and acceptability, and shows the darker, if not darkest, side to humanity.



louie.lisbog said...

Adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same title, “No Country For Old Men is a cat-and-mouse drama between a psychopathic hitman Anton Chigurh who chases Llewelyn Moss for the $2 Million cash that the latter stole from a failed drug deal. This Academy Award-winning film is not just all about crime, murder and suspense but it tackles much deeper issues just like the other films that were made by its directors Joel and Ethan Cohen.

“Call it” (Chigurh)
“The coin don't have no say. It's just you” (Carla Jean)

The characters portrayed in this film gave its viewers a look into the spectrum of morality. On the good side was the Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, a soon-to-be retiring sheriff who was portrayed as a very clean, honest and reasonable person. On the far end of the spectrum was Anton Chigurh, who was hired to get the missing money. His character was very evil and can be described as inhuman because of his heartless and one-dimensional thinking characteristics that is most commonly found from robots and not from humans. While in the middle were Llewelyn Moss and the other characters in this film wherein they might sometimes do bad and evil things but there are still some good characteristics that are inside of them.

Another theme in this movie is about free will and destiny. In the movie, Chigurh sometimes base his decision whether to kill his victim in a coss toin or by “calling it” which represents destiny because Chigurh puts down the fate of his victim on whatever the coin tells him. But when he tries to kill Llewelyn Moss’s wife Carla Jean and forces to “call it”, she objects and tells that the coin have no say and it is still depends on Chigurh. This particular situation shows us the relevance of free will and destiny as a basis for our own choices in life. Should we depend our destiny dictate with whatever will happen to us or we should be the ones who are making our own path?

Integrating these two prevalent themes in the movie, the question that arises is that whether morality is a choice or is it like a tide in which we cannot do something about it. This question is very hard to answer because men live in a society wherein decisions, values and norms are shaped and can be a huge factor in making decisions, but somehow in the end, the final decisions come to our own selves. I believe that choice is a compromise between destiny and free will. What is moral is shaped by the society but we have a choice in which side of the spectrum we would like to join, in which this choice is dictated both by our own standards and what the society tries us to become.

As each generation passes, the issue of morality seems to be losing its grip especially from the generation today. “No Country for Old Men” was shot in the desert, a sheer representation of hopelessness. But there should be nothing to be hopeless about, because this film also showed us the importance of choice. Change must not only come from us but for the whole society also because it is a huge tide that is very hard to go against.

This film deserves whatever praises acclaims and praises that it got and is getting because of its very effective channeling of the messages that it tries to give its viewers. The Cohen Brothers gave several pictures of humanity in which we can relate about and this film now lays on its viewers on which side are you going to take- the good or the bad, the moral or the immoral, the clean and the dirty… or just in middle of it.


Kathrine said...

Part I - Maxwell

“I ain't gonna call it…The coin don't have no say. It's just you.” – Carla Jean Moss

When it was announced that the next movie to be watched in class was ‘No Country for Old Men’, I heard my friend saying that he is excited to watch the movie for it was a very good film and one of his favorites. With that in mind, I deduced that maybe I’ll be having a good watch next meeting. That was what I thought. On the contrary, after watching the film, I am affirming that ‘No Country for Old Men’ was one of the worst films that I watch in class and in my life.

No Country for Old Men is a multilayered film that touches on the themes of violence, drugs and money, and the negative side of human nature. Essentially, the film shows violence right from its opening scene with Anton killing the police who arrested him until the latter part of the film. From the visuals - the use of guns and brutal murdering of people- to the language used by the characters, the film has consistently shown the prevalent theme of violence in the conveyance of its message to the viewers.

The second theme is the role played by drugs and money in the movie. The film starts off with the failed drug deal then eventually building up the plot that revolves on the money that was picked up by Llewellyn in his hunt on the dessert. The story took a spin from the money chase that happens among Llewellyn, the drug dealers and Anton, with the sheriff Ed Tom Bell coming in the picture investigating the events and murders that transpired.

The third theme in the film is the depiction of the negative and brutal side of human nature. It shows the capability of a person to kill his own kind, be it because of a vengeful reason; just to achieve one person’s ends; or just because of nothing – Anton just wants to kill a person for no reason at all. In this standpoint, the film shows the irrational side of human beings – its capability to easily kill and destroy a human’s life.

Kathrine said...

Part II

Aside from the explicit three themes shown by the film, No Country for Old Men, on the other hand, shows its nihilistic perspective in which the film emphasizes on the idea that ‘all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.’ This perspective entails the idea of the desire to destroy. With this in mind, the embedded message of the film is to destroy the established notions of the rationality of men, for in this film, men acted irrational. Furthermore, the film shows the negative sides of human beings. On a deeper level, the movie tries to tear down the constructed idea of a capable and reliable police and law system, the fallibility of human rationality, the idea of peace and order, and a person’s notion of morality.

Behind the multilevel messages of the film; the themes of violence, drugs and money, lawlessness; and the nihilistic messages it conveys, I personally did not like the movie. My preference to not like the film stems from three reasons. First, I am not a fan of films of violence. Second, I do not like plot of the film and lastly, I hate the characters – all of them. I am not a fan of ultra-violent films – especially this kind of one in which killing is just a pastime and done with no hesitations and remorse at all. I see no sense in watching this film showing all those worthless and easy murdering of people. Though I can say that the words said by Anton and his weird delivery of lines were quite entertaining to listen to and watch, I still find the movie hard to watch.

The second reason why I do not like the film is its plot. I find the plot to be violent yet a boring one with no climax or even a moral provocation at all. Even though deep messages are concealed within the lines and the plot of the film, since it’s a film of violence, I find it hard to examine, absorb and digest all of those subliminal messages. Lastly, I hate all the characters for they do not seem to be realistic at all. The film showed the extreme sides of humans, either you are purely evil or purely good. The film shows that when you are bad, there’s no turning back, and that you will be forever within that evil domain, whereas when you are good, you will be apathetic and just do nothing when evil strikes at you.

This movie, though is a not a feel-so-good movie, is still a tool for political socialization. It may have presented ideas which are contrary to my perception of the way things should be, but still, it contributed to a liberalization of my movie watching experience.

Katt Maxwell

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