light gazing, ışığa bakmak

Thursday, March 6, 2008

e pur si muove: No Country for Old Men

It was finally the time to see the moving picture after having read the book. No Country for Old Men shouldn't be the entrance door to Cormac McCarthy's writing but that's what happened to me and, all in all, it wasn't such a bad thing. This western-thriller seems to be a much easier read than other more elaborate novels, like those of the Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, the Crossing and Cities of the Plain, or other novels, such as Blood Meridian. Enough about Cormac, a bit more about the movie.

First of, it was funny to be chewing on popcorn through the murder of at least forty people. The lady sitting next to me was all huffing and puffing, I'm sure on account of the popcorn and not of the killings. Which is interesting. Then, having read the book quickly and anxiously, I could sit down and relax while other people were enjoying their own fears and anxiety: the movie follows the book very closely, except for the last forth of the story where many episodes are cut or trimmed.

I had found this country/book not to be for girls, but the Cohen story finishes the job started by the writer. The small parts women played in the book were totally erased in the film. Carla Jean plays a tiny role, and is even deprived of her own story, she never gets the chance of saying how she met her husband, how she thought they were destined for each other. Not a story, but just the sketch of a wife, she is denied our symphathy. The same with the sheriff's wive, a symbol of "supper", moral and ethics, stability and true love - in the book, is totally efaced in the movie.

But the worst possible character in the Cohen version is Carla Jean's mother, more of a comic puppet that somebody who is actually dying from cancer. Hers will be a comic relief role, rather than a tragic one: the dying woman who is forced out of her house, the one who had seen that evil things were bound to happen. And that was exactly the biggest surprise for me: the movie, despite the graphic violence, can make you laugh many times. That ability to laught in the strangest of times can knock you down as much as in Fargo, the difference being body temperature. While, after Fargo, I left the movie theater shivering with cold, this time I was sweating under the Texan sun, feeling the desert dust, fearing the border.

In the beginning of No Country for Old Men, the movie, I found it interesting that when the scene of the crime is being showed - the place where the main character will decide his life for the worst - a light falls greyish on everything. When the good policemen, the small heroic counterpart to big scale crime, visits the same place, the sun comes out and fills the screen with a yellowish, warm light of hope.

That hope will not stick. The abrupt ending, mostly disliked by reviewers, is one of tame acceptance of the fact that everything is getting worse. Unlike other novels by the same author, we need to face here the double discomfort: Chigurh is a sign of the present times, for one. But more than that, he's out there, he's out there in the future, somewhere, waiting.


Anonymous said...


A Mesa de Luz said...

Tinha muitos erros, espero ter corrigido tudo... Beijo. Ana

patrick said...

just saw no country for old men; it's unassumingly unconventional and yet (thankfully) never over the top... all in all the Coen brothers deserve their Oscars, well done indeed.