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American Mythologies in “No Country for Old Men”

            It is rare to have a combination of American mythologies about psycho killing and modern version of Western tale rolled into one presentation. When told in a manner that aims for the realization of evilness of psycho killing as well as the violence of bloody Western narrative, such manifestation proved to be an effective instrument in shaping the society’s guidelines. An example of said clear and terrifying depiction of killing by a psychologically-disturbed person resulting from a bungled Western-type drug deal is the movie “No Country for Old Men,” a Coen Brothers version of the McCarthy’s novel of the same title.

Aside from laying down the said two mythologies, the movie itself presented another concept such as the symbolic life of an aging and retiring law enforcer who has a personal conflict of thwarting crimes in his society and wherein almost his entire family has dedicated their lives. Analyzing the 2007 movie offers a glimpse on the relation between the two mythologies and the concern of the old men. “No Country for Old Men” signals the reality that a dreadful mass slaughter by a one mentally-derailed man, a cowboy-style drug exchange that incorrectly went violent and an old man’s struggle to maintain peace and order never cease to exist in today’s society.

Showcase of Horrible Social Mythologies

            The movie’s complicated plot which was placed in a rural area in Texas included characters following the trace of Llewelyn Moss, played by actor Josh Brolin, who stumbles upon the source of a shooting spree among drug runners – a $2 million worth deal. In a narrative of an old sheriff by the name of Ed Tom Bell, played by equally veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones, the public was introduced with a psychotic killer named Anton Chigurh who was effectively portrayed by Javier Bardem. From Sherrif Bell’s storytelling, mythologies relating to Chigurh’s mass slaughter (with the utilization of a toss coin) and the Moss’ escape from his struggling Western life were exposed (“No Country for Old Men” Motion Picture, 2007).

            As the movie developed, the said two mythologies unwrapped a lot of dreadful realities of the modern Wester tale. These include Moss’ discovery of drug runners’ dead bodies and his eventual stealing of the bounty. Unknowingly, Moss’ new-found fortune would risk his life in the hands of psycho killer Chigurh who brandish his gory slaughter to anyone who blocks his path in pursuit of Moss. Then there is the character of Sheriff Bell, who as a typical authority in what used to be a peaceful Western town, also followed Moss and Chigurh in his struggle to keep such orderly condition of the society. In the process of showcasing the horrible mythologies of that particular American society, the Coen Brothers maneuvered the film in such a way that the viewers will be faced with horror of the horrifying characters. The film enabled the public to eventually realize how an old man’s part was somehow put aside in order to reflect the film’s title indicating the reality that sheriff Bell should have instead safely enjoyed his last old days and that he should have chosen to be of no place to society ruled by atrocities (“No Country for Old Men” Motion Picture, 2007).

American Mythologies in an Old Man’s View

            Mythologies relating to social ills such as massacre of innocent people and drug deals attract one’s imagination and instill in humans an intense level of fear. While the Coen Brothers’ movie has artistically presented such social anthropologies, with an apparent utilization of symbolical characters and images, an old man’s perspective and resolution of the  problems are incomparable. This is for the reason that the character of the old sheriff Bell was the one who traced the root of such gory stories and who was able to search for the resolution of the social problem that beset the 1980s modern-day American West society (“No Country for Old Men” Motion Picture, 2007).

            The movie was symbolical of Sheriff Bell in a sense that, while it depicted real human attributes such as barbaric massacre because of greed for money, the old man’s nature of desiring for a peaceful life explains that such could not happen all the time. In reality, the kind of human nature that Sheriff Bell wants to retain is actually of no place to a society that is ruled by a psycho killer in the character of Chigurh and the thief Moss. Additionally, the title of the movie served as a concrete explanation regarding the alarming kind of treatment that the elders received from the the society. This is because the elders are perceived to be already incapable of maintaining peace and order or resolving social ills thus they no longer have a significant place in a society where the worth of honor and dignity have significantly and steadily worsened. It is worthy to note then that Sheriff Bell was able to redeem his being old by playing part in following the traces of violence and eventually resolving the whole menace. The old man’s character should also be attributed with the realization that the 1980 Western-style society turned out not to be attracted at all with the persona of a psychopathic mass murder and a greedy cowboy thief (“No Country for Old Men” Motion Picture, 2007).

Symbolism in American Mythologies

            “No Country for Old Men” is not just an ordinary psycho and contemporary Western movie for it was able to present American mythologies symbolically. The film successfully manifested the genres relating to modern-day Western violence and mass slaughter by a mentally-disturbed criminal. An anthropology about social or cultural myth of psychopathic killing and cowboy-style drug trading, the said adaptation of the 2005 novel has proven its value with the utilization of the principle of symbolism. In fact, the three main characters have their respective symbols of American mythologies. Moss is a typical Western personality of mythical esteem, Chigurh is the twisted symbol of social ills and Bell is a figure of an old yet dependable mythology that is definitely still needed even up to today’s society.

            Moreover, the movie itself stand by to the symbolism culture based from the nature of the characters. In actuality, Chigurh symbolizes the myth about death with his attention-grabbing hair style which when coupled with a black hood as clothing truly represents death. As the society represents, death just like Chigurh grabs the lives of guiltless people with his own set of guidelines as symbolized by his use of coin.

Conclusion

            “No Country for Old Men” is an American myth told in a set-up between the wild Western tale of hunters against their corresponding victims. A deeper analysis of the movie, however, revealed that instead of giving an anticipated resolution of the presented social ills, “No Country for Old Men” instead altered it by centering on the life of an old man and his personal dispute over the current society’s violence and life’s atrocities in general. While this could not be totally distorting, the aging sheriff’s life and internal conflict made  the film rather bleak in its sincere search for resolution of the problems of the society. Nonetheless, sheriff Bell’s twilight life, where he was able to successfully recognized himself and his real world, was utilized by the Directors in a redeeming way because the old man served as the symbol that answered life conflicts and eventually led to the ending of violence within the society. The movie should have focused more on the wisdom of the older members of the society as they are the ones who attest on the value of life based from their respective life times and experiences. Ultimately, the use of arousing Western and psychological hostilities  are essentially needed if only to make the public realize the existence of such violence and that even an old man’s ways can actually be useful in resolving the ills besetting the society thereby stressing that there is still a place for the wisdom and will of old men.

Reference

Coen, J. & Coen, E. (2007). No Country for Old Men. Paramount Vantage.

 

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