No Country for Old Men is perhaps the most significant contribution of the Coen brothers to the development of cinema. The film was a resounding success, both with pretentious critics and among ordinary people, bringing its creators an impressive box office. The main advantages of the film: taciturnity, tense atmosphere, mute cruelty and craving for realism.
The only complaint that viewers often make about the film is that the plot is too allegorical and understated, which is why at first glance a banal and primitive scenario about a murderous maniac turns into a philosophical parable. Even though the main message of the plot can be recognized from the film’s title alone, it’s not easy to sort out the work of the Coen brothers.
What is the movie “No Country for Old Men” about?
According to the plot of the film, an ordinary worker Moss, who went through the Vietnam War, stumbles upon a gangster shootout in the desert, finds a bag of money there and decides to take it with him. This act will lead to a wave of brutality, as both American and Mexican criminals are after the cash.
The voice-over that tells us the whole story belongs to the old Sheriff Bell, in whose city a cruel and ruthless killer is operating, leaving dozens of corpses in his wake.
The third main character of the film is the killer himself – his name is Chigurh. Considering him a psychopath or possessed would be a mistake. Chigurh does not enjoy what he has done, he only does his job as a mercenary. The killer is looking for what Moss appropriated and no one will stop him. He kills anyone who gets in his way, asks unnecessary questions or refuses to help.
Chigurh embodies absolute evil, there is not a drop of compassion, humanity and conscience in him. He considers himself the “hand of fate”, makes people act the way he needs and play by his rules. Before killing, he gives his victim the opportunity to make a choice, the result of which will be either life or death.
But Chigurh thought too much of himself, he was overly arrogant and did not expect that Moss, who took the bag of money, would be so stubborn. The mercenary gives him a choice: to give the money and then Moss’s wife will remain alive, or Chigurh kills them both.
Moss refuses to make a choice. He hides the loot and intends to get rid of the pursuer. But he dies in a shootout with the Mexicans, who take the cash.
Then Chigurh comes to the wife of Moss with the intention of killing her. She explains to him that there is no point in this, because the Mexicans took the money. But the killer does not care, he had an agreement with Moss and Chigurh is obliged to bring his plans to life in accordance with his personal code of honor.
But before killing him, he gives Moss’s wife a choice – toss a coin that will determine whether the woman will live. Fate turns out to be on the side of evil and Chigurh does what he came for.
“No Country for Old Men” plot explained
The plot of the film takes place in the 80s on the desert plains of Texas, when the Wild West meets the era of industrialization. To replace the tired old generation, new characters come who are not shackled by outdated social norms and are ready to do anything to achieve what they want. It is this clash of different times and generations that can be seen in the film. The world is changing and the strongest wins.
The main characters of the film are Vietnam War veteran Llewellyn Moss, elderly sheriff Ed Tom Bell and professional hit man Anton Chigurh. Each of the characters symbolizes a different period of time and represents exactly the recreated archetype of each individual generation.
Symbol of the future
The brightest star of the entire film is Anton Chigurh, played by the inimitable Javier Bardem. At its core, Chigurh is a symbol of the future. Anton is a superman according to Nietzsche, who is devoid of a moral code, religion, emotions. He is the most rational, logical being.
Chigurh is not “evil” in the classical sense, he does not enjoy killing, he does not revel in his own cruelty. Moreover, there is not a single cruel motive in his actions, he simply does his job: he unemotionally goes to the goal and if he resorts to random murders, then only on the basis of rational motives: the destruction of evidence. Of course, given the laws of morality, Chigurh is a real psychopath, which serves to display one of the main conflicts of various generations: high morality in the face of a symbol of the past (the elderly sheriff) and unbridled, even immorality, which the new generation suffers from.
Particular attention should be paid to a kind of “game of fate”, in which Anton offers to participate in some of the people he meets. Chigurh eliminates any person who can carry even the slightest danger to him – this is a matter of survival that does not pursue cruel motives. But we can see the duality of character in those cases when people come across on his way who do not pose a direct threat to him.
The most significant moment when offering to play the game is Chigurh’s phrase: “You have to choose, I can’t choose for you”, which symbolizes not even the lack of humanity in the killer’s soul, but Anton’s confusion when faced with a non-standard situation for him. Chigurh can’t kill a human, because. he does not pose a direct threat to him, but there is a risk, so he does not make his own decisions, but gives this prerogative to another person.
Symbol of the present
Llewellyn Moss, with her passion, mobility, craving for change and not atrophied moral qualities, appears before the audience as a symbol of the present. The character himself is the most standard of the trinity of protagonists, and the scene when he returns to the dying bandit is of the greatest interest. This act can be equally interpreted as a manifestation of moral qualities and feelings of guilt towards a dying person, and a desire to make adjustments to your boring everyday life and draw on excess adrenaline.
Thirst for action, self-confidence and restlessness – this is what characterizes not only Moss, but also the generation of the present, when the thirst for change does not stop even before the frightening future (in the person of Chigurh) and passionately goes to meet him.
Symbol of the past
The leisurely and philosophizing Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is like a monument to the past. Unable to cope with the shocks surrounding him, the sheriff is constantly in prostration: he is always a few steps behind Chigurh and Llewellyn, does not understand the motives of the criminal and cannot track his current location.
One of the most important, but outwardly unremarkable scenes with the sheriff is his visit to the ranch to his old friend, who saw the death of his own grandfather Tom. After the conversation, it turns out that Uncle Tom was brutally murdered in 1909 by a gang of criminals. This story clearly shows that cruelty in our world has always been an integral part of life, despite the stories of old people that it was always better before. “You can’t stop the future, and you can’t adjust life for yourself” – the final words that Comrade Tom said. Our life always changes over time and you can either adapt to the surrounding reality, or give up, give in to the young.
Triumph of the future
Progress, the desire for change and evolution is an irreversible process in the life of mankind. Anton Chigurh, symbolizing the future time, a little shabby, but still alive, remains unpunished, “grinding” at the same time all the acting characters in the film.
No, “No Country for Old Men”, despite the first glance, does not romanticize the murders, the film can hardly even be called truly cruel, rather life. This is just a parable that illustrates the natural course of life.
“No Country for Old Men” ending explained
The meaning of the ending of the film “No Country for Old Men” leads the viewer to the fact that evil has gone unpunished. Anton Chigurh, who by definition is the main antagonist of the story, gets away with it. And in the truest sense of the word. And it is unlikely that this mercenary is a real villain. He just does his job, considering himself the perfect tool for it.
Despite the fact that the killer is left with a mountain of corpses, he kills mostly out of necessity, although, apparently, he gets a certain pleasure from this. Even his tool is rather peculiar: a cylinder of compressed air pushing out a pin under pressure. Such devices are used for slaughtering cattle, but Anton uses them to break door locks and kill.
Sheriff Bell is clearly aware that he is no longer able to cope with his duties. Therefore, he decides to resign. He always wanted to be like his father, who really was a tough sheriff. For a while, he succeeded. However, at the very beginning of the film, he says that times have changed. Throughout the film, he practically does not show himself as a sheriff. Bell has little interest in the investigation and seems to just want to save Moss. However, even this he fails to do.
Probably, the sheriff worked for so many years only because he did not see anyone in his place. This is clearly seen in the way he communicates with one of his assistants. Although the guy wears a police uniform, it is clear that he treats work formally.
Dreams about the father are also references to the past. Bell’s grandfather and father died in the line of duty. Therefore, he is the only one in the family dynasty who managed to retire. His grandfather and father must be waiting for him by the fire that the sheriff saw in his dream.
“No Country for Old Men” movie analysis
People write about how well the filmmakers managed to show the uncertainty of fate. Killer Chigurh kills people in batches with impunity, tosses a coin to decide whether to live or die. Accidents bring the heroes together, accidents help them avoid a terrible fate, or vice versa – die in a strange way. The brilliant hitman (Woody Harrelson) shows off, but even the weapon never reaches for the entire film, and Chigurh quickly kills him. But a simple cowboy skillfully repulses the killer, but then dies because of the stupidity of his narrow-minded mother-in-law, who gives up his location. A lot of people in the movie are killed by accident. Those who just stood in the way, those who spoke all sorts of nonsense. And the sheriff was supposed to die when meeting with the killer, but accidentally survived.
And even if you rewind to the beginning, the whole plot is based on the fact that the cowboy went hunting and accidentally found a bag of money. Well, this is all interesting. But then what thought did the Coen brothers put into their film? It turns out that the thought is as follows: there is no God, everything in the world is ruled by chance. You can’t believe in anything, you can’t be sure of anything. The one who is more fortunate wins. In this story, for example, the immoral creature was lucky, killing right and left. And probably the sheriff. And the cowboy, his innocent wife, the hired killer and a dozen other people – no, no luck. And there is no karma here, there is no punishment for sins. Everyone does what they want and hopes to live longer. So what is next?
The thoughtful grumbling of the sheriff who doesn’t give a damn about what happens in life just reinforces the meaning of the film. All his conversations with other heroes indicate that he is a disillusioned person in life. He was looking for meaning, looking for God, but he never found it, and his time is coming to an end. That’s why old people don’t belong here. Love, idealism, faith – all this is for the young, who stubbornly do not want to see that everything is built on chance. And the old people have already lived long enough to understand: they can no longer find anything and there was no point in searching.
“No Country for Old Men” interpretation
The film explores themes of violence, fate and morality and tells the story of a failed drug deal in 1980s Texas. The main characters include a hunter named Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) who discovers the aftermath of a drug deal and takes the money; Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a ruthless hitman who is hired to return the money; and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), who is investigating drug-deal murders. The film was widely acclaimed for its acting, direction, and storytelling, and won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The film is a tense, gripping thriller that explores the consequences of greed and violence. Llewelyn Moss’s discovery of drug money sets off a chain of events that leads to him being hunted by Chigurh, a ruthless assassin who uses a captive bolt pistol as his weapon of choice. The film also explores the theme of fate and the idea that events are predetermined, as well as the idea that morality is a personal choice and not necessarily something that can be imposed by society. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell is a character who struggles to make sense of the violence and chaos going on around him, and who struggles to maintain a sense of morality in the face of the evil he sees. All in all, No Country for Old Men is a powerful and thought-provoking film that is sure to stick with audiences long after the credits roll.
“No Country for Old Men” hidden meaning
The film No Country for Old Men constantly contrasts the old and the new, the past and the present. The three main characters represent three times: Sheriff Bell is the past, Chigurh is the present, Moss is the future.
Sheriff Bell is a character from the past, he does not understand how the new world works and does not realize what America has become. His attempt to find Chigurh and save Moss is the final task he decides to take on before he retires. But the sheriff can’t cope, he can’t catch the killer and realizes that it’s time to retire.
Chigurh symbolizes the present, the same ruthless, not amenable to the laws of the past and the future. He literally decides the fate of other people.
Moss, who took money from gangsters, is a symbol of the future. He hopes to change his life with the help of the found riches, he tries to get to his dream and fill his life with meaning, but he dies before he succeeds.
An interesting observation: the three main characters do not meet face to face. They are always close, follow each other on the heels, but never intersect. Like the three times – past, future and present.
“No Country for Old Men” movie symbolism
“No Country for Old Men” makes use of a number of symbols throughout the film to convey deeper themes and meanings. Here are a few examples:
- The coin flip that Chigurh uses to make decisions is a symbol of fate and the idea that events are predetermined. The coin flip is also a symbol of the moral ambiguity of the character, as he uses it to decide whether to spare or kill someone, regardless of their guilt or innocence.
- The captive bolt pistol, which Chigurh uses to kill many of his victims, is a symbol of the brutal and indiscriminate nature of violence.
- The money that Llewelyn takes from the drug deal is a symbol of greed and the idea that people will do terrible things for money.
- The landscape of the movie, which is set in West Texas, is also symbolic. The barren, harsh landscape serves as a metaphor for the moral emptiness of the characters and the world they inhabit.
- The character of Anton Chigurh is also symbolic, he represents the evil that exists in the world and the idea that some people are capable of terrible things.
- The dialogue of the characters is also symbolic, the conversations between Bell and his uncle Ellis are a recurrent theme, where the uncle repeatedly states that the world is changing and the old values and morals are disappearing, the Sheriff is struggling to keep his sense of morality in the face of the evil he is seeing, this dialogue serves as a commentary on the changing society and how it’s affecting the older generation.
Overall, the symbols in “No Country for Old Men” serve to reinforce the film’s themes of fate, violence, and morality, and to add depth to the characters and their actions.
“No Country for Old Men” explained by director
The Coen brothers, who directed “No Country for Old Men,” have spoken about their interpretation of the film in various interviews. They have said that the film is a commentary on the changing nature of the world, and how older values and morals are disappearing. They have also said that the film is about the consequences of greed, and how people will do terrible things for money.
In an interview with the New York Times, the Coen brothers said “The movie is about a guy who finds a bag of money, and it’s about the various people who come after him to take it away from him. But it’s also about the world in which that happens, which is a world in which values have broken down. It’s a world where the old rules no longer apply.”
The Coen brothers have also said that they were inspired by the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, and that they tried to stay true to the themes and tone of the book while also adding their own vision.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Coen brothers said: “The book is a very dark, violent novel, and we tried to stay true to that. But we also tried to bring our own vision to it. We wanted to make a movie that was true to the book, but that also had our own voice.”
In conclusion, according to the Coen brothers the movie is a commentary on the changing nature of the world, and how older values and morals are disappearing, it’s also about the consequences of greed, and how people will do terrible things for money. They were inspired by the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, and that they tried to stay true to the themes and tone of the book while also adding their own vision.