No Country for Old Men

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You can’t stop what’s coming.

No Country for Old Men is not just a modern Western. Sure, on the surface it’s a tense story of unrepentant violence. Even in that respect, it is fantastic. The performances and the cinematography alone would make this film incredible.

But there is more.

No Country for Old Men depicts a changing world. A world where violence, unmitigated and mindless, is everywhere. People die for no reason at all. The Coen brothers – and Cormack McCarthy before them – saw where the world was headed, and they saw that there was no way to stop the insanity. They were right.

The three central characters of the film represent many different things. Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is nostalgia. He is a remnant of the past, a vestige of an older age where people treated others with kindness. His beliefs and worldview simply cannot coexist with what the world is becoming.

Llewelyn (Josh Brolin) is everyone. He is moral ambiguity – neither evil nor good. Llewelyn represents humanity in the grand scheme of the universe. He never seems to have control over the situation, the outcome always dictated by someone or something else. He is adrift, pushed around by waves at war with each other.

Anton Chigurh is chaos. Unbridled, unrelenting, unstoppable chaos. A veritable force of nature. Fate itself. Chigurh has no conscience and no morality. Chigurh is the driving power that changes the world, and uses brutal violence to do so.

The plot of No Country for Old Men is very much about a changing world, but it is also about death. Much of the carnage is witnessed on screen, but the death of Llewelyn is not. It is quick, unexpected, and hardly noted at all. I believe that this is an example of how death comes for everyone, and you never expect it, and your death is not more meaningful or impactful than that of anyone else.

Contrary to the beliefs of Sheriff Bell, the film is quick to point out that senseless violence has always existed. Human beings have been killing each other since the dawn of time, and we will continue to do so until the planet is rid of us.

No Country for Old Men is a film that will make you think. It will make you consider the state of the world and the state of the human race. It will make you long for older days and better times.

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