2 scenes of No Country For Old Men

A poster for the film No Country For Old Men.View the film No Country For Old Men. There is a trailer on YouTube available.

This is a 2008 crime thriller film directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, with cinematography by Roger Deakins (director of photography).

Analyse and discuss two scenes:

  • one where the absurdity of the situation is re-enforced by image composition,
  • one where frustration is conveyed by choice of environment.

Absurdity re-enforced by composition

Dictionary.com defines absurd as:
utterly or obviously senseless, illogical, or untrue; contrary to all reason or common sense; laughably foolish or false: an absurd explanation.

Early in the film, the main character, Llewelyn Moss, acquires a case of $2M from a criminal homicide in the desert, where all the drug dealers bar one has been shot to death. When he returns to his trailer park home, he answers the query from his wife, Carla Jean, who does not believe the case is full of money. Her docile behaviour may be explained by her character role, watching mind-numbing television. What is truly illogical however, is Llewelyn’s compassionate decision in the middle of the night to bring water back to the dying man in the desert. A frame from No Country for Old Men, showing an absurdity of the situation. This is completely senseless of him. Returning to a crime scene is never a good idea, especially for the purpose of delivering drinking water to a bloodied drug dealer who was obviously going to die anyway. It is absurd that Llewelyn left his wife in the middle of the night to deliver water to a dying man in the desert who he has just robbed. He even admits that he’s fixing to do something dumber than hell. Furthermore, he knows there is lethal danger in that he asks his wife to tell his mother that he loves her, if he does not return. Carla reminds him that his mother is dead, after which he proclaims that he’ll tell her himself. This is ridiculously foolish as Llewelyn’s compassion is worthless, inappropriate, and leads him directly into trouble.

Frustration conveyed by chosen environments

Here we can use the following definition of frustration; a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

Bringing drinking water to the now dead dealer in the desert, Llewelyn parks his ute atop the ridge and walks down to the scene of the shoot out. His decision to leave his ute at a distance quickly leads to disaster as a fresh group of Mexican bandits arrive and puncture his tyres, reducing his mobility. Now his escape from the bandits must be made on foot. Firing shots, they chase him in their vehicle to the river, at which point the bad guys release a relentless dog. To survive the approaching dog, Llewelyn must quickly clean and dry out his pistol that was saturated when he started swimming. After shooting the dog, he then must walk without boots and jacket back to his home.

Before realising there is a tracking device in the money case, Llewelyn is constrantly on the run. First he attempts to safeguard his wife by sending her to stay at her mother’s place. Then he checks into someplace cheap, Del Rio’s Regal Motel, and hides the case in the ventilation shaft. Returning to his motel, he is scared off by a suspicious looking vehicle parked at a room. He pays the taxi to take him to another motel. Frustration conveyed by chosen environment, room 138. Next he returns to Del Rio’s Regal Motel and takes out an additional room, directly behind his first room. Using recently purchased tent poles to form a hook, he retrieves the money case via the ventilation shaft from the safety of his new room, 38, while the Mexicans are slaughtered in the adjacent room 138, where Anton Chigurh has tracked the location of the money case to.

In room 213 at the next hotel, Llewelyn realises the coincidence of his hunters finding him by chance is impossible. He deduces that there must be a transponder and discovers it in the case. Anxiety heightens after a call to the reception goes unanswered. He realises the problem is drawing near. Frustration conveyed by chosen environment, room 213. Switching off the bedside lamp is all he can do as he prepares to fight off his predator from behind the door. Llewelyn’s crafty opponent dims the light from the hallway before commencing his assault. After the exchange of shots, Llewelyn bravely jumps from the window of his second floor room to escape.

Though each escape results in further injuries, Llewelyn is no closer to succeeding. He chooses to hide the money case on the riverbank beside the Mexican border gate. With his escalating injuries, throwing the money case over the high fence is difficult, but it puts it out of reach of everyone. Thus his final unmet needs are to kill Anton and retrieve the money.


absurd. (n.d.). In Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/absurd

Coen, E., & Coen, J. (2007). No Country for Old Men. Crime | Drama | Thriller, Paramount Vantage. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0477348/