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—• CONTENTS •—
— Errata Movie Podcast —
11 December 2007 — Episode 008 Podcast

No Country for Old Men
No Country for Old Men

On this edition of the podcast, we talk about the latest films from the Coen brothers and Wes Anderson.

0:00 Intro and Answer to the Puzzler
2:20 No Country for Old Men
3:05 Outro

— strangely, the podcast continues —

4:41 No Country for Old Men (bis)
13:44 The Darjeeling Limited
19:08 Darjeeling vs. No Country
21:19 Outro: Revisiting Movies

— blithely, the podcast continues —

23:25 Spoiler Warning
24:23 In Depth: No Country for Old Men
34:07 - The Principled Man
38:30 - The Good Guy
42.34 - The Voice of Reason / The Hand of God
46:43 - The Soul Adrift
49:19 - Interplay with the Audience
52:38 - A Troubling Disparity
59:55 Outro: Listener Feedback, Next Time

Next Time: Highlights from the New York Film Festival
Coming Soon: A year-end speed round, plus year-end interviews

Listen Now or Subscribe in iTunes (it's free)
Duration: 01:03:26

Further Reading

A. O. Scott, David Edelstein, and Jonathan Rosenbaum on No Country for Old Men (yea, yea, nay, respectively)

• Darren Hughes reacts to a screening of No Country for Old Men

• My essay on The Darjeeling Limited and the accompanying short

Posted by davis | Link | Other Episodes
Listener Comments
December 14, 2007, 09:59 PM
davis

Minor spoilers follow.

An addendum that comes to mind:

In our discussion of No Country for Old Men, in talking about the moment when Anton Chigurh (the psychopath) is at his weakest, I mentioned that until then he's nearly, but not quite, invincible, and that even when he's injured, he can do things like pull a bullet out of his own knee that make him seem immortal.

And I offhandedly mentioned that in the bullet-knee segment, he loses the trail momentarily but regains it "through chess moves." That's actually not quite right. He regains it by knowing where Llewelyn will be, stating that Llewelyn will in fact come to him. That is, he regains the trail through omniscience.

And so the horror of the film is that God has still not shown his face to Sheriff Bell, even at this late stage, while an omniscient, invincible foe walks the earth. He knows when you're watching the light that shines beneath the door; he removes the bulb.

December 14, 2007, 10:10 PM
davis

My second addendum is something I mentioned to J. Robert after our podcast, something I'd forgotten about. Early in the film, Llewelyn Moss gets out of bed to take agua to the man in the desert, the selfless act that J. Robert refers to, the one that gets him into trouble.

He rises reluctantly out of bed -- although he wasn't sleeping -- saying, "All right."

Before he heads out the door he has a great exchange with his wife, Carla Jean. "If I don't come back, tell my mother I love her." "But your mother's dead," she says, giving him pause. "Well then I'll tell her myself."

In the moment, it humorously foreshadows his death (obviously) and it says something about his state of mind (perhaps it was his mother's voice encouraging him to take that man some water, to which he replied "all right"), but it's also an odd echo of the sheriff and the story he tells about his father, the way the sheriff has passed his father's age, the way the timelines are indistinct, the way lineages have crossed, and the way the bridge that spans the chasm separating the here from the hereafter is suddenly visible through the clearing fog.

December 16, 2007, 09:49 AM

Rob, I'm not sure that Chigurh's foreknowledge is omniscience so much as a keen perception of human nature and playing "the odds" of what Llewelyn is likely to do. Yes, Chigurh can turn out the lights, but he is hardly all-knowing, as Llewelyn often gets the drop on him, so to speak. I think it's interesting that the only time Chigurh seems truly rattled is when Llewelyn's wife doesn't act as he expects her to, that she won't play by the game's rules. Is it any coincidence that soon after he's blind-sided?

Also, I love your reference to Llewelyn saying "All right," as I had forgotten that. But I didn't interpret that as him believing his mother was talking to him but rather him thinking he's hearing from God (or his conscience). It fits nicely with the theme of God's silence, which is obviously a fundamental theme of the story. The act of giving someone water is of course one rich in Biblical imagery.

Sorry to hijack your thread with religious allusions.

December 16, 2007, 10:17 AM
davis

Hi, J. Robert. I'm not sure my two addenda counted as a thread until you added your thoughts, anyway. Great observations.

Yeah, Chigurh is obviously human. He's not really all-knowing. But what the people he's pursuing fear is that he's a little more all-powerful and all-knowing than a typical person. Some of them believe for a time that they can get away from him (the inverse of Hazel Motes who believes he can live without Jesus), but they come to find that they cannot.

As for the "all right," I like your way of seeing it, too. I didn't mean that Llewelyn literally thinks his mom is talking to him, but I suspect that he's a man whose conscience may be indistinguishable from the voice of the mother in his head. :-)

December 16, 2007, 01:30 PM
davis

James Rocchi of Cinematical (and a fellow San Francisco film critic) mentioned in a recent podcast that

After four viewings, No Country for Old Men now for me works perfectly as a metaphor for America's challenges in the age of asymmetrical warfare.

Alec Baldwin, by the way, suggested something similar ("It's a metaphor for Iraq and the post 9/11 world.") on The Huffington Post.

I can see fragments of this metaphor, particularly in the sheriff's almost anachronistic confusion, but it seems to me that Chigurh is a vigilante fascinated by randomness, two traits that don't map easily to people, even terrorists, who are fighting for a common cause via asymmetrical warfare. Put another way, I can see why a story like this is appealing to Americans right now -- just like movies involving torture or that remake of Pearl Harbor -- because it relies on newly stoked, present-day concerns. But that's different from saying it explores the issue via metaphor, especially one that "works perfectly."

I suppose I wish that America had the sheriff's sense of resigned introspection, which is surely more productive, in the real world, than Hollywood style shootouts.

Rocchi and David Poland then dismiss the frustrations some people have with the ending; Rocchi adds the following schoolyard taunt: "That's very nice, but be quiet because the grown-ups are talking."

December 17, 2007, 11:08 AM

Rob & J. Robert -- Sorry I'm late, just catching up with this podcast. Thank you--I enjoyed listening to it.

I had mixed feelings about the Coens film. Like Rob, I admired its great technical facility in the first half and wasn't convinced/persuaded by its reaching in the second half to be something more ambitious.

Two takes on the film that I find persuasive are by Dave Kehr and Andrew Tracy.

December 17, 2007, 12:18 PM
davis

Two excellent reviews that I hadn't read. Thanks for the links, Girish. Kehr, succinctly as always, describes a reaction similar to mine. I love that he highlights the Coens' elliptical editing, but then he comes around to this:

But the Coens’ weltanschauung is as small and pinched as ever: this is a film that invites you to laugh at the choice of linoleum floor tile in a sheriff’s station even as the sheriff is being strangled on top of it.

That's the scene, listeners will recall, that J. Robert and I disagreed about.

Andrew Tracy also sees a mismatch between the genre conventions and the third-act introspection:

Sinking into the rhythms of a film, to the extent that one can almost predict the moment of an upcoming action or cut, can be a pleasurable and expansive experience in the work of certain filmmakers (the Dardennes, Kitano). In the Coens’ case, it’s simply tightening the straps on their allegorical straitjacket.

...

Rather than the thematics emerging from within the accumulated physical detail, those details are merely the mechanisms to illustrate a predetermined point.

You're not late to the chat, Girish. I know that, unlike a blog post, a podcast isn't easily skimmed. It demands a block of someone's time, so people trickle in gradually. iTunes dutifully grabs the latest episodes of various podcasts when they're available, but I sometimes don't get to them for a while.

Thanks for spending a block of time with us. :-)

December 18, 2007, 09:09 PM

My pleasure, guys. I look forward to future conversations in your series.

December 20, 2007, 07:54 PM
davis

At the end of our discussion, J. Robert raised the interesting prospect of a western without violence. Although westerns were always on the TV in our house when I was growing up, I wasn't the one watching them, so I'm not nearly as versed in western conventions and history as many people I know. I've never seen The Searchers.

But J. Robert's comment made me think of a film I didn't mention: Old Joy. Now this won't look like a western to most eyes, but it has some of the hallmarks. Two men venture into the Oregon wilderness away from everyone/everything, share the quiet. Granted they travel by car instead of horse, and it's a camping trip instead of, uh, you know, a cattle drive or something.

But I love that our knowledge of westerns -- even my limited knowledge of westerns -- precedes these men and hangs over the film to such a degree that I suspect there will be violence, even though I have no reason to think either of these guys is violent at all. There's a cut in the middle of the film -- a camp fire, a moment of disorientation -- where my heart skipped a beat. This is it, I thought for a second. Here's the outburst.

Or again, later, when they reach their destination -- a hot springs -- and should be relaxing, the same feeling of impending doom even seems to cross the brow of one of the characters. Or is that subjective on my part.

Either way, the original question remains: can a western be made without violence, when even this example carries the invisible threat accumulated by a hundred years of movies about loners with big hats.

(By the way, my preferred way to look at Old Joy is politically, on a triple feature with Half Nelson and Yes. I can't say I've ever thought of it as a western before now. I wonder why it came to mind? Maybe amid this discussion my thoughts were searching for a gentle movie.)

December 26, 2007, 07:37 AM
Maitê

Greetings, What is your e-mail address for press releases and photos? Thanks for your time,

December 26, 2007, 04:26 PM
davis

Hi Maitê. You can contact me at the email address in the sidebar to the left.

December 29, 2007, 11:32 PM
davis

J. Robert, why does the wood chipper make you dislike Fargo?

January 1, 2008, 10:57 AM

New Year's Resolution #147 (2008 version):
Respond to all (most?) comments posted on my blog or directed at me or that involve me in some way, shape or form.


As far as my dislike of Fargo, the wood chipper encapsulates everything I dislike about the Coens' approach. There's an utter contempt for secondary characters (and, by extension, humanity), there's violence played strictly for laughs, and there's the general tone of superiority.

What I like about No Country is that we get all of the good things about the Coens--incredible craftmanship, strong work with actors--without all of the negative. And there's McCarthy's spiritual questioning that the Coens actually play straight. Imagine those metaphysical questions in Fargo. They either wouldn't exist or would be merely another forum for mockery. I love Macy and McDormand in Fargo as well as her character's marital relationship, but there are too many other things that rub me the wrong way.

January 1, 2008, 11:10 AM

As far as other critics' viewpoints, I find the post 9/11 reference particularly fatuous. I know that for certain Americans, "life hasn't been the same since that fateful day," but just because a movie has violence and pretensions doesn't mean it's about terrorism or Iraq.

I'm also a bit befuddled by girish and Rob's embrace of Kehr's review. It's pretty clear from both the review and the proceeding comments that Kehr, as a "native Midwesterner," has a chip on his shoulder about the Coens and that he was just ready to pounce on any perceived slight. How else to describe his fascination with the linoleum in the early killing scene. I can appreciate (though not agree) with Rob's discomfort with the scene's violence, but if the first thing you notice is the flooring, then maybe you're looking for something to pick on.

One of the things I think is paramount for any critic is to try, as best as you can, to go into a movie with an open mind and accept it, at first, on its own terms. Then after you've tried to see what it says, you can judge whether it does that well or whether what it says is worth saying. It's pretty clear that Kehr didn't try to do that.

January 1, 2008, 11:26 AM

And one last follow-up...

I like Rob's idea of Old Joy as a western, though I'll agree it's a bit of a stretch (and maybe the "exception" that proves my "rule"). But anything to give that wonderful movie a bit more publicity. And Rob's analysis of how that plays out with audience expectations is particularly fine.

And one last defense of No Country...
I think it helps to understand the subversion of genre conventions in the film--we don't get the shootout we want, our expectations for how and when the movie will end are completely befuddled--as of a piece with the theme of the presence/absence/silence of God. In other words, in a world wrecked by violence where we desperately want the sheriff (real or metaphysical) to ride into town, what does it mean when that doesn't take place? When, as Tommy Lee Jones's character remarks at the end, "I figured when I got older God would come into my life. But he didn't." You either have a God's eye view of an accident from which evil still walks away, or you have the final cut to black. That strikes me as haunting and profound, and beautifully integrated into the content and form of the film.

January 27, 2008, 09:44 AM
davis

Here's a different discussion to listen to, from Glenn Kenny, Harry Knowles, Jen Yamato, and Jim Emerson, moderated by Elvis Mitchell.

I haven't listened to the entire thing, yet, but I sense from the first 15 minutes that my position is not represented among these lovers of the film.

And again those of us who don't like (I'd say don't believe) the ending are called "juvenile."

Still, these folks are well-informed and mention a few things I hadn't thought of, like a connection to The Big Lebowski.

January 27, 2008, 11:09 PM
ben

I thought the film, was amazing. after fargo, and big lebowski,I just didnt think the cohens could top those. this film is magic,it must be an honor for any actor, to be selected by the cohens. no country, is another piece of art, that will be viewed,and studied forever. thank you for a wonderful film.

February 1, 2008, 03:24 AM
Matt

The major theme is GREED and its consequences (there are no clean getaways) and fighting with our conscience. Read the explanation below and watch the movie again - it all fits together!

There are two layers to this movie, the real part and the sub-conscious part:

Real Layer/Story: Moss finds some money beside dead Mexican drug dealers. He goes back to bring a dying Mexican some water but other Mexicans spot him (see his face/car) but lose him. However, they now know who he is via his rego plates – they go to his trailer park but he is not there so they track his wife around via the phone number of her mother (there is no tracking device (see below)). They find out where he is staying via his mother in law (helping her with her bags). When they do eventually find him they kill him in the hotel but do not find the money. Bell finds the money at the crime scene by checking the vents but he turns it in to the authorities (not shown but implied – see below). Carla Moss kills herself in grief after her husband’s funeral. Bell retires because he cannot make sense of all the greed and evil in the world (a good man like Moss dies because of it), he cannot seem to stop it (“There are no laws left”). In the dream he and his father try to bring ‘light to the darkness’ but in the end he ‘wakes up’ to reality.

Conscience Layer (see below for more explanation): Moss does not meet Anton for awhile into the movie. He initially has a cleanish conscience (i.e. going back to give the dying Mexican water). When Moss decides to run from the Mexicans instead of just leaving the money in his trailer for them to find and leave him alone, Anton (greed) focuses his attention on Moss and begins tracking him. There is no tracking device. The tracking device in Anton’s possession symbolizes Anton (greed) getting closer and closer from Moss’ sub-conscience to Moss’ conscience. Moss begins to understand that his wife will be in danger , he sees/realizes Anton/his greed, finding the phone list (which is actually the Mexicans finding the list in reality). He then discovers the tracking device at which point he meets Anton (greed) in his conscience. The next scenes are him fighting with greed in his conscience. He wounds greed (Anton) but does not kill him. Since greed is wounded you then see him talking to Carson Wells (his reasoning conscience) who says he might be able to help him and his wife if he just hands over the money (give up his greed). The hotel room across the street is Moss’ mind. There Anton (greed) kills Wells (his reasoning conscience). We then see Moss having a direct argument with his greed (Anton) and Anton says that it is Moss’ fault that his wife will now die – it was his choice (in his sub-conscious he thinks that the Mexicans will find her). Moss is then killed by the Mexicans but they do not find the money. Bell is not possessed by greed (you see him mirrored by Anton(greed) in the tv). Bell goes into the hotel room where greed (Anton) is potentially ‘waiting’ as the $2 million has not been found. He goes in there and sees the vent, he knows there is $2 million in there but he knows he won’t take it (the heads on the coin symbolizes he made the right choice) so he does not see greed (Anton) – presumably he turns the money in. Carla kills herself (meeting Anton (death/greed) was her husband’s fault). With his work done Anton finds some new ‘victims’ for greed when spots the kids on the bikes. He is wounded by the car crash so greed is wounded but then as he heals himself they begin fighting over the $100 bill (which in reality they probably found on the street – the cycle of greed begins again). Bell retires because he cannot make sense of the greed and death (we know he does not know greed), him and his father tried to shed light in the evil of the world but he ‘wakes up’ to reality that it will always be there (You can’t stop what’s coming).

Who is Anton?:
Anton is greed conscience. He is a ghost. He is not real. “Can you see me?” We have a choice to succome to greed (coin toss). He wears black/dark clothes.
Movie Poster Titles:
“You can’t stop what’s coming” (Anton). He survives the car accident and bullets but you can wound/slow him down (fight greed if you meet it).
“There are no laws left” (greed/Anton can’t be controlled by laws/by Bell it is up to the person under the influence of greed).
“There are no clean Getaways” (greed/Anton eventually wins – greed has dire consequences)

Who is Carson Wells and what is the Business Office?
Carson Wells is the good/reasoning conscience of Moss. The meeting in the office is the reasoning part of Moss’ mind (the high rise office symbolizes his mind – the top of the building). The man behind the desk is Moss’ sub-conscience saying that he wants his good conscience (Wells) to stop his bad conscience (Anton). Wells (good conscience) names a date, 28th November last year, when he last met Anton (bad conscience) – possibly this was a time that Moss had conflict in his conscious before. Wells says he knows Anton “every which way”.
Moss talks to Carla on the phone and could end everything but instead insists on keeping the money. He says he has to find ‘him’ and she says “Find who?” She asks about the safety of her mother and Moss says she’ll be alright (he knows the Mexicans will find his Mother in Law). At this point Anton (greed) bursts into the office (Moss’ mind) and kills Moss’ reasoning part of his mind. The other character, accounting, is just another part of Moss’ mind probably accounting for his money. Moss knows in his mind that the Mexicans will find his wife (says the Mexicans were given a tracking device).

February 1, 2008, 09:10 AM
davis

Hey Matt,

That's a fun interpretation. Some people in the film do show greed, but I'm not sure the allegory works quite as perfectly as you say. For example, as J. Robert points out in the podcast, the act that gets Moss into trouble is actually selfless, not greedy -- he's taking water to the man in the desert. Anton also kills a deputy who is never shown to have any reason for the Angel of Greed/Death to be chasing him, plus random strangers.

It explains, perhaps, some of his disgust with the store owner who lucked into the place; the disgust is simply disappointment for not being able to kill a greedy man.

But, as we've seen, he kills lots of people who are not greedy, based on coin tosses. You say it's a choice, but in fact it's random.

Note also the intriguing injection of greed into the story via the young men and boys who sell their shirts to people in need. The guys who sell a shirt to Moss want to see the money first, even though he's bleeding. The boy at the end tells Anton he can just have the shirt, but his friend tells him to take the money (which is bloody, by the way), tempting him. And yet none of these characters is punished in the film, and Anton even walks away from the boys with more strength than he had before they helped him. (It's tempting to see this as a part of your schema -- Anton drew strength from their greed. But he would have been $100 richer had he accepted the shirt as a gift, which they'd have been willing to do. And note that the bullet in his knee was caused by Moss's greed; he didn't gain strength from it.)

All of which is to say that while greed is a strong undercurrent of the film, it isn't so simply personified into the black-wearing Anton or the white-wearing Carson. The film is telling a story, and Anton is a real character in that story. Excising one of the characters by calling him a ghost is unnecessarily literal.

I think the film's narrative ellipses encourage this kind of sleuthing, which -- as I said in the podcast -- is what I find most enjoyable about the first hour: figuring out what's happening.

February 1, 2008, 02:43 PM
Matt

Hey Davis,

Initially I was thinking along the same lines as most people whereby Anton represents DEATH. This is sort of the obvious answer but it does not explain every situation, whereas Anton representing GREED, does. He is not real - he is in our minds.

People have said that McCarthy is trying to make Americans ’see’ the evil. From most of the comments above I think it is safe to say that most people in the world are very familiar with death and evil and do not need to be reminded by a book/movie, it is pretty obvious it exists and people will always quickly blame the worlds problems and what they don’t understand on death and evil (as they have in debate about this movie).
This movie is a wake-up call to Americans to start looking at the root of all this evil and death - it is GREED for money (drug dealers, oil, diamonds).
The sheriff and the man in the petrol station both just want to live simple lives. The do not succome to greed.
In the end the sheriff realises there is so much Greed in the world. There are no laws to stop greed, thus the sheriff can do nothing. Only the person who has succomed to Greed can fight it (Moss’ fight with Anton). He wishes Anton wasn't a ghost so that he could find and finish him (he imagines Anton behind the door). He goes into the hotel room and realises he is just a ghost - he sits on the bed and lets out a sigh, he then retires.

McCarthy wants you to look past death America, and see that the cause of much of the suffering in the world is Greed. Ask yourself, “Am I greedy?”, have that sub-coscious fight in you head right now. You will come up with excuses that you aren’t (Anton winning the fight) but deep in your sub-conscious you can hear a voice saying you might be (Wells talking to Moss).

Will you win the fight against Anton Chigurh America?

February 1, 2008, 03:05 PM
davis

Matt, have you seen The Treasure of the Sierra Madre or A Simple Plan? I think you might enjoy them.

February 1, 2008, 03:56 PM
Matt

Hey Davis,

Haha, I looked up the plot summaries of the movies you mentioned on IMDB. Hey, just because I think No Country is a movie about greed doesn't mean I'm into movies about greed!!

But thanks for the info - good stuff! They seem to have high ratings on IMDB so I'll look out for them.

Cheers - have a pleasent day.

p.s. I think it's interesting that my two favourite movies of the last year are No Country and Into the Wild. On one hand you have greed, losing everything for money. With the other he chooses to give up everything...

March 17, 2008, 05:57 PM

Nice podcast, I really enjoyed listening in. As for the movie, I just got home from watching it. My first thoughts were that it reminded me too much of Fargo, actually. I think the Coen brothers are repeating themselves a bit too often. One example would be the crime spree in this desolate, underpopulated setting, where people and law enforcers are down to earth and a bit naïve (for lack of better terms). I'm too tired to comment more (it's really late in Sweden right now), but I agree with you on most points. I left with the feeling that life is chaotic, violent, random and archaic, and it will stay that way. Well, thank you again for the podcast, keep it up.

March 20, 2008, 06:16 AM
Neil

If Girish thought he was late to the conversation in mid-December, I'm not sure what business I have posting in the last third of March, but:

I'd put myself in the camp that was put off by the switch in tone in the second half of the film. Ultimately, I think it's a good movie, but I wouldn't call it great. (Sure is a strange movie to win Best Picture, though--I'm looking back over past winners to find something less likely, just based on subject matter and tone. Midnight Cowboy, maybe?)

But as I was watching it, there were two things that kept coming up for me:

1. The film seemed to have as much if not more in common with film noir than with the western. I thought you guys might be alluding to this in the podcast when you talked about how it played with genres (plural), but then the conversation (and discussion here) seemed to focus on it more as a western. I'm not sure what to say about the noir connection except that the moral shortcomings of Moss (as long as it felt like he was the protagonist) and the feeling of being in an irredeemably corrupted world made sense for me in that context. The lack of climactic shootout might fit as well.

2. How is it that Chigurh (and, later, Wells) is able to track Moss so easily? I get that the tracking device helps somewhat, but there are some periods where the device is out of range or when it has been ditched entirely. And yes, some of it could be that he's really smart at reading what people will do and some of it could be having access to resources that we don't see during the film. But there was just enough in the direction of omniscience that I could never buy this guy as a human, which I think is a problem if we're going to take the film as a serious indictment of where humanity is right now (and not, to bring up another genre, some kind of horror film).

March 20, 2008, 03:49 PM
davis

Excellent point about noir, Neil. You're right. In fact it's fun to think of the similarities between the genres. Both of them are populated by loners who belong to the every-man-for-himself school, but I think both of them also weave that individualism with a strong, if tainted, sense of justice.

I'm thinking of The Maltese Falcon. Spoilers ahead. Sam Spade is so hard-nosed that he scrapes Archer's name off of the office window the day after he's murdered. No time or interest in sentimentality, and no love lost. Except that late in the film we find that he's not so much seeking the riches of the falcon as he is seeking retribution for the murder. Perhaps he's a softie after all. A ha! But then, shift again, he explains that when someone kills your partner you're supposed to do something about it. Doesn't matter if he was a good guy or a bad guy. Doesn't matter what you think of him. At the very least, letting that sort of thing happen is bad for business.

Sometimes part of being an individual is sticking up for someone else. I see this spirit in Michael Clayton. And it's definitely there in No Country for Old Men, too. And when the Coens up-end the film, they overturn not just the Western myth -- because we expect a shoot-out -- but also the noir one, because we expect someone to be sent down the river, even if it's just business.

May 21, 2008, 09:44 AM
Drew

Matt,

I thought your analysis was great and offers the best explanation of the movie I've read so far. I always saw Chigurh and Wells as polar opposites. The only time we see Chigurh really happy and smiling is when he's captured and beaten his arch rival Wells. The strange dialog "Do you have any idea how crazy you are. You mean the nature of this conversation?" now makes sense in the context of the bad and good part of Moss's conscience talking to each other! Chigurh was so full of himself "If the rule you followed led you to this, of what use is the rule". Chigurh is gleefully saying "My way is better. I win, you lose".

A few questions. The deputy and the man killed with the cattle gun did not exhibit greed. What is your explanation as to their deaths which appeared to come at the hands of Chigurh? Secondly, I agree that Carla Jean committed suicide (Chigurh had no weapon when he left her house). Why does greed appear before her and offer her the coin toss? I actually saw this scene differently. I saw Chigurh's presence in the room as Carla Jean's contemplation over whether she should resign herself to fate, a life of destitution and loneliness or exercise free will over her own destiny by taking her own life. Calling the coin flip means she is resigning herself to fate, Chigurh is arguing for her to do that. Her decision to control her own destiny (suicide) symbolized in her refusal to call the coin toss seems to rattle Chigurh more than anything else in the movie.

May 29, 2008, 10:28 AM
Danielle

I think Matt offers one of the best theories I have read.

The deputy and the highway driver were examples of GREED's existence in the world outside of and unrelated to our main characters. Simply because we saw those two men die while "doing nothing wrong" does not mean they weren't being "punished" for their greed in other areas of their life. We are not to assume that because one was in uniform and one was elderly that they had no vices or actions led by greed . . . .

The boys on the bikes - although GREED would have been "richer" to have taken the shirt for free, it needs to be looked at as a drug dealer - a free sample (the hundred) is much more effective in creating a lifetime user. The point is not that GREED wants to keep all of the money, but that GREED is running rampant in the hearts and minds of all humans. GREED converts innocents who would have literally once given you the shirt off their backs into squabbling children looking for the next boost.

Carla Jean gets a "break" from GREED because she married into it, just as the man in the gas station did. Unlike the simpleton at the station, though, Carla Jean recognizes the role GREED played in the ruin of her life and cannot live with the pain. There would be another reason for Carla Jean's suicide as well - were it not for her including her mother in the trip, which her husband distinctly told her not to do, the Mexican gang might not have found him and killed him. She alone is responsible for his death in that motel room. Perhaps he would have finally been gunned down by GREED at another point, but the way Moss died when he did was her fault and hers alone. She knew this on some level, hence the suicide. GREED's boots are clean, not because he checks and wipes them - what we are seeing is him noting that they ARE clean - he in fact is only a bit player in her suicide.

Can someone please point out some actual reasons why Matt's theory is not correct? I just don't see any major loop holes.

Also - about the woman at the pool at the Desert Sands. Does Moss "have some beers" with her, and is this the reason for his being caught off guard?

June 2, 2008, 11:33 AM
Drew

Danielle wrote:

"The deputy and the highway driver were examples of GREED's existence in the world outside of and unrelated to our main characters. Simply because we saw those two men die while "doing nothing wrong" does not mean they weren't being "punished" for their greed in other areas of their life. We are not to assume that because one was in uniform and one was elderly that they had no vices or actions led by greed . ."

I feel this is a stretch. There no precendent in the movie to think these characters are greedy and just making an assumption to fit the theory doesn't fly. Sorry.

Still like Matt's theories but this is a major hole that needs to be explained.

Answer to question. I think the woman represents "temptation" (note serpent T-shirt she wore). She was shot in pool area and Moss in doorway so it doesn't appear they were together when the Mexicans arrived. Could have been a distraction though.

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