Friday, January 11, 2008

'No Country For Old Men' Is About The Culture Of Death

'No Country for Old Men' is a nihilistic movie to watch. Unless you think you are a well-formed Catholic that appreciates slow dramas, I wouldn't suggest you watch it, especially children. Not because the movie was poorly made or acted, but because it is a deeply depressing and violent film. From an artistic point of view, the film has excellent angle shots and superb acting. But that's not why I'm blogging about it. I'm blogging about it because I came across an interesting review of the film that I agree with. The review makes the case that the film is an indictment on the consequences of the culture of death. (emphasis mine)
Walking away from the Coen Brothers film of No Country for Old Men, you may have a couple of questions. For instance, why is the film set in 1980? And what does it all mean? In Cormac McCarthy’s novel, it’s obvious why the story takes place in 1980. The reason is Vietnam. Most of the characters served there; it’s where they learned about the value of human life, or lack thereof. The sheriff’s deputy, examining a crime scene that ended up in a shootout, says, “It must of sounded like Vietnam out here.” When Moss (played by Josh Brolin in the film) buys ammo, he thinks, “the box of shells contained almost exactly the firepower of a claymore mine.” The sheriff (the Tommy Lee Jones character) tells Moss’s wife that “he’s goin’ to wind up killin somebody,” to which the wife responds, “He never has.” The sheriff points out, “he was in Vietnam,” and the wife says, “I mean as a civilian.” That dry distinction—that killing in war doesn’t count—is ironic. When Carson Wells (the Woody Harrelson character) is killed by Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem in the film), Chigurh thinks about “the body of a child dead in a roadside ravine in another country,” as well as all the people he has assassinated, which underlines the point that killing leads to more killing. The sheriff thinks about how “I was supposed to be a war hero and I lost a whole squad of men. They died and I got a medal.” COMMENTARY Editorial Director John Podhoretz has castigated the film as nihilist. But if you measure McCarthy’s ironic tone in the book, you might come to another conclusion. Possibly McCarthy is taking the extreme, Catholic stance that all killing is wrong, from capital punishment to war to abortion. The book takes place seven years after Roe v. Wade, five years after the fall of Saigon, four years after the restoration of the death penalty by the Supreme Court. It’s a year when the idea that state could sanction killing has begun to take root. The sheriff, in the book as in the film the voice of wisdom and restraint, expresses a sad resignation toward the death penalty from page one on, and a portion of the book that isn’t referred to in the movie might be the key to understanding McCarthy’s moral.
Remembering a conference in Corpus Christi, the sheriff thinks, “Me and Loretta…got set next to this woman, she was the wife of somebody or other. And she kept talkin about the right wing this and the right wing that. I ain’t even sure what she meant by it. The people I know are mostly just common people. Common as dirt, as the sayin goes. I told her that and she looked at me funny. She thought I was sayin somethin bad about em, but of course that’s a high compliment in my part of the world. She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I don’t like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well mam I don’t think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin I dont have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion. I’m goin to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.” McCarthy has a vision of an America that fosters what Pope John Paul II called a “culture of death;” these men come back from Vietnam, where they learned to kill, then apply their killing skills on a country that is killing fetuses and condemned prisoners and will soon give the okay to killing old people and the weak. The remorseless assassin Anton Chigurh is the natural consequence of a culture of death: A harbinger of unchecked killing.
Some things haven't changed since 1980, with the exception of the mainstream media and elites promoting homosexuality as a virtue. Thus contributing to the culture of death by attacking the family, the nucleus of western civilization and Christianity. I could also add to the review if you consider the title of the movie, No Country for Old Men. This gives the implication that euthanasia will resolve the elderly-care crisis. Due to the rampant extremism of utilitarianism being applied to both unborn children as well as the elderly. Deeming the elderly as useless to society and incapable of caring for themselves the resolution would be to euthanize the elderly. Just some thoughts. (Biretta Tip: The WebElf Report)


Anonymous said...

SO Vietnam veterans are behind the "cult of death?" It's actually the hippies that were/are a part of the culture of death. Going to war does not mean you automatically like death. Most veterans do not like killing but they can and have in the defense of others. That's a distinct difference between the hippies who want to have abortions and euthanize the elderly.

Tito said...

No. Being immersed around the culture of death moves people to be callous and insensitive and therefore continue in this death-cult.

I know where you're coming from, I don't endorse that idea either.

Ben said...

I wish I had seen this post earlier. I liked the movie, though I do agree that some of the subtlety of the book was lost. In the book we read the Sherrif's thoughts ever other chapter, and they are all very much like the one you quoted, in that they all focus a light on the rising tide of violence in the hearts of men. I love that quote by the way, it was my favorite moment in the book.


Are you serious?

It's an ironic title (very much metaphorical as well), not meant for literal interpretation.

Sheriff Bell belives he can do nothing anymore, that the level of violence in the world has become unfixable. He feels he has it worse than his predecessors - he can do nothing except wait out his death.

His ideas are turned on him in the final moments of the film when he's told it's his vanity that causes him to think this way. It's vanity to think you have it worse than anyone else. (i.e. That homosexuals are somehow the cause of all our family problems.) It's always been this bad. Evil, killing, murder has always been around to this extent. Have you read the Bible?

Why do you gang up on certain types of people in your review? Moral loving christians have more to do with the literal culture of death than any homosexuals. In fact, more homosexuals are against the war, whereas most Christian, God fearing people are sending their children over seas to learn to become killers. The thing that makes this movie so topical is the fact that it relates just as much to our own war in the Middle East as it does to Vietnam. And we have a President who is claiming that God wants us to do this.

Whereas I agree with the person you quote. Your own thoughts and interpretations of his thoughts seem less to be thoughts and more condeming insinuations.

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