American Violence – A Critical Film Analysis of No Country For Old Men
A violent contract killer, a blue-collar welder, and a weary sheriff are all players in the ensemble No Country for Old Men. The Coen Brothers adaptation of the novel written by Cormac McCarthy is a multi-genre, visual buffet about a man’s strength of will and dedication. It’s about death, fate and American violence. It is set in 1980 and centers around the chaos of questionable decision making and killing without a purpose or at the very least killing without ethics. Every Coen Brother movie has utilized violence as a way to enhance realism, entertainment and narrative. Each of their films employ bloodshed in
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The setting of this film helps to address the theme of greed, lawlessness and justice. The characters’ clothing, horses and extended supply of weapons lead us to believe that there will be a showdown in the film at some point. Even Bardem’s character, Chigurh, is dressed in a way that renders him mysterious and strange. What’s most distinctive about Chigurh is the pageboy haircut he sports while wearing western gear, which is a blatant contradiction. But, it also let’s us peek into the mind of this imposing monster while we realize that he is truly as disturbed as we think he is. Even his use of the compressed air tank as a weapon of choice reinforces his terminator-like existence. The way the actors are costumed over all stays on point with the expressed notion that living is easy in these parts and any change in the norm will stick out like a sore thumb. Even when Llewelyn goes into the store to grab something to wear, he asks for his usual uniform of white socks and cowboy boots, not breaking from the status quo. The make-up on the face of the mobile home manager that Chigurh confronts at Llewelyn’s trailer park, tells a story about who she is on a day-to-day basis even though we only encounter her that one time.
The opening scene uses the voice-off technique to express that something in this environment of western civility has changed. As the sheriff talks about old times,
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Deakins shows us