Ethan and Joel Coen
Adapted from Cormec McCarthy’s novel in 2005, brothers and directors, Ethan and Joel Coen take McCarthy’s underlying themes and concerns of masculinity and self-preservation into a crime thriller film, ‘No Country For Old Men’ (2007). The constant manhunt and blood lust for drug money makes for an easy thrill fix to Americans, but the Coen brothers and McCarthy create an entirely new vision of male identity for us to see beyond the film.
The film is set in 1980 on the Western border of Texas and Mexico, with a gripping storyline following the crossed paths of the three protagonist characters, a Vietnam Veteran Llewelyn Moss, hit man Anton Chigurh, and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, all intertwined in the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. The most interesting character to analyze is the quintessentially small-town Sherrif, Ed Tom Bell.
Bell endured a late-life male identity crisis, overwhelmed with the thought of retirement and death, renouncing his Sherriff career, which was filled with the excitement of violence that sustained his male dominance his entire life. After all of these factors, Bell was a retired cowboy who lost all moral certainty of his masculinity, with a result of finding out what it felt like to be an old man.
The main perspective in which the Coen brothers adapted from McCarthy in ‘No Country For Old Men’ was the quintessential old American Western Cinema definition of masculinity. The American Western life of a cowboy is thirsty for the power reigned from white male privilege, and utilizes violence as a tool to maintain power over ethnic and sexual minorities of men and women, and over animals and land.
No Country for Old Men
directors ETHAN and JOEL COEN
director of photography ROGER DEAKINS
cast JAVIER BARDEM, JOSH BROLIN, TOMMY LEE JONES, KELLY MACDONALD and WOODY HARRELSON
text by ELLEN GRACE