Any filmmaker seeking to adapt a Cormac McCarthy novel faces the significant problem that a large part of the strength of each is the pure poetry of McCarthy’s prose. In No Country for Old Men the Coen brothers provide cinematography that serves as a suitable stand-in for the poetry of McCarthy’s prose. They back that up with a sharp attention to detail.
There are three main characters: Vietnam vet Llewelyn Moss, hired-killer Anton Chigurh, and rural county sheriff Tom Bell.
The Coen brothers capture perfectly one of McCarthy’s themes—the dichotomy between extreme violence and genuinely nice regular folk. There is also a dichotomy between the poetry of so much of the dialogue and monologues, especially the sheriff’s musings, and the ordinariness of dialogue with tertiary characters.
And it is a very violent movie. Chigurh kills 10-14 people, depending on your opinion on murders that appear to happen off-screen. That level of violence is by no means strange for a Hollywood movie; more unconventional is the ending, which may be off-putting to many.
I saw No Country for Old Men, bought it on DVD, and replaced my DVD copy with the Blu-ray. This is a gorgeous movie, and it benefits from high definition.
3 thoughts on “Film: No Country for Old Men”
I have only seen parts of the movie, but it is well shot. Loved the book. I am reading Blood Meridian for the second time now. When I first read years ago, I pushed through it and read it in two days just to get through the horror. It’s a brilliant book but horrific. Now I am parsing it out.
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I have always founding reading McCarthy to be real work, so his books are always slow going for me. Most of the impact hits–and hits me hard–when I finish it.
I need to reread Blood Meridian, but I have been wanted to reread his Border trilogy for a long time now, so I will probably get to it first. And a copy of The Road has been sitting on my shelf waiting to be read for years.
McCarthy’s prose takes some getting used too. It can be quite beautiful, though. It’s the constant violence that’s making the reread of Blood Meridan go slow, for me though. The first time I read it I powered through it, but this time I’m taking my time. I also think I blocked certain scenes from my memory.