No Country for Old Men is a 2007 film directed by the Coen brothers, and is an adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy. The film was nominated for eight Oscars and won four, including Best Motion Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best Screenplay.
A modern take on the classic American Western, No Country for Old Men, is a crime drama that follows three main characters, two of which fit the mold of typical character from a Western, while one does not. The first is Llewelyn Moss, who fits the archetype of the cowboy, a man who plays by his own rules and may make some questionable choices, but is ultimately a good man. Next is the aging Sheriff Bell, who represents law and order. Lastly is Anton Chigurh, an assassin who seems somewhat out-of-place. Chigurh’s appearance and actions are very different from the other two main characters, and what one would expect from a Western. Physically, he stands out by having longer hair and wears dark clothing, though it is his actions that truly set him apart from the rest. Even the weapons that he uses set him apart from everyone else. Most of the other characters use pistols and rifles; Chigurh uses a captive bolt pistol that is meant for cattle, showing that he thinks of his victims as nothing more than animals. He kills without hesitation, without remorse, and operates outside of typical motivation. The motivation of Llewelyn Moss is simple and stems from accidentally finding $2 million and being on the run from dangerous people who want that money. Sheriff Bell’s motivation comes from his sense of duty to uphold the law. Chigurh, however, has a motivation completely fixed on his own principles that he alone can understand. This is shown primarily by the few instances that he leaves people alive, such as when he stops at a gas station and flips a coin to determine if he will kill the owner or not. Chigurh’s character is summed up by Sheriff Bell when he tells Moss, “Even if you gave him the money, he’d still kill you for inconveniencing him.” This shows how Chigurh glaringly stands out from typical Western characters who mostly have gray moralities. Chigurh has no morality at all, at least none that anyone other than himself could understand.
No Country for Old Men is an intense and enthralling film that sets characters with vastly different motivations and principles against each other. It sheds a fresh, new light on the Western genre.