Uploaded by Steve Sliverfin

No Country For Old Men - Analysis

Film Language Analysis: No Country for Old Men
Mise-en-scene: The film tells a compelling story of two men caught in a cat and mouse for a
case full of money, the pivotal point of the movie all seem to take place due to either coincidence
or chance. Following a dark tone, the style is a mix of both western movies and normal thriller.
Instead of focusing on the money it is the driving force behind the three main characters that is
Themes – The film continually deals with the themes of chance and coincidence while
also highlighting the difference between fate and choice. This is especially evident in the
character of Chigurh as he chooses to let a coin toss direct his victims' fate, so he won't
have to take responsibility for his actions. Lewellyn and the sheriff show these
contradictory characteristics with Lewellyn switching between moral and immoral
actions repeatedly, while the sheriff seems to be drowning in the problems that surround
him. Another important theme is that of the hunter and the prey as the role is never
confined to just one character.
Setting – Set in Texas and in parts Mexico the film also uses the setting to dictate the
character of the movie. As the western feel and crescendo build up come in part from the
location through the tense vulnerability portrayed by the open spaces and claustrophobic
feel of the interior shots.
Props – Though the money is an important prop it is just used as a Mcguffin as the
audience doesn’t really care what happens to it, it’s just a reason for the plot to move
Lighting – Natural lighting is used as much as possible in both the interior and exterior
scenes and keeping with the characters leaves them with soft shadows in a lot of shots
showing the moral ambiguity and unsureness of both Chigurh and Lewellyn.
Character portrayal – As the film is majorly character driven with is shows interesting
studies on each character as none of the characters is entirely morally correct or wrong.
Casting doubts on both motives and the subsequent outcomes, which in turn reveal well
rounded and complex characters.
o Costumes – A lot is revealed through the costumes of the characters itself, subtle
details like beliefs, flaws and state of mind. The best example in this film is the
antagonist Chigurh as his sociopathic tendencies are revealed in the through hints
in the dark clothes that he wears, the fact that he kills people with a cattle gun but
most of all through his hairstyle.
o Blocking – The blocking in this film shows interesting character relationships as
though the main conflict is with Chigurh and Lewellyn they rarely appear in the
frame together, in keeping with the equal power dynamic and continually shifting
roles of the hunter and hunted.
Colour – Tones of brown and gold make frequent appearances on screen along with
similar neutral and dull hues, with both the interior and exteriors keeping the same tone.
These seem to emphasize the pointlessness and inevitability of the film. The colour
palette is also used to show the shifting moral scale of the two main characters as they are
always is saturated hues. All the colours in this film are used to show and add to the
character lines of each of the three shown perspectives.
Cinematography – The cinematographer was Roger Deakins who said that the main focus was
to make it realistic, to match the story. Also make it edgy and dark with less stylization.
Types of shots – The shots used are very steady and there seems to be an absolute
minimum of handheld shots. As the movies pace isn’t very fast but more driven by the
tension the shots are held for longer, giving a slight feel of claustrophobia. This same feel
is also shown in character interactions, e.g. When Chigurh flips the coin for the storeowners life, there is almost palpable tension as all the shots are held for almost too long.
Camera angles – As the power dynamics come into play the camera angles vary yet the
tone is always maintained keeping the angles edgy, especially to heighten the tension.
E.g. When Wells meets Chigurh the camera is always at a slightly lower angle while
facing Chigurh as a constant reminder to who’s in charge.
Focus – The main focus is on the tension and suspense while also emphasizing the
characters dynamics.
Sound – The sound in the film wasn’t aimed at being realistic but more of a menacing presence
subconsciously affecting the audience. Music is used to bare minimum making the long silences
affect the mood of the film more. This choice for sound enhances the feel of the crime thriller
genre of the movie as the crescendo of the mounting tension because of the lack of any relief
from music becomes almost unbearable. The very slight strains of music that are heard at times
also work to increase the tension especially in the coin toss scene where very faintly very base
piano chords are heard.
Editing - The movie is relatively slow paced, yet this does nothing to reduce the tension. Despite
slow pacing the style of edit is relatively relaxed as though playing with the audience with shot/
reverse shot used to direct focus onto the character interactions, and their rections to one another.
As the film progresses the pacing keeps getting tenser right up till the final confrontation with
Chigurh and Lewellyn never letting the audience lose focus for a second.