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Harasemovitch, J.C. (2009). No Country for Old Men directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen Miramax Films, 2007, 122 min.. Fort Da, 15(1):134-142.

(2009). Fort Da, 15(1):134-142

No Country for Old Meni directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen Miramax Films, 2007, 122 min.

Reviewed by
Jeanne C. Harasemovitch, LCSW

Bringing the Devil down to His Knees: The Aesthetics of Evil

His firm stanzas hang like hives in hell

Or what hell was, since now both heaven and hell

Are one, and here, O terra infidel

(Canto Ill, ll. 1-3) — Wallace Stevens, 1947, “Esthétique du Mal”ii

Arousing a sense of evil that is ancient, uncontainable, and contemporaneously real, Anton Chiguard bursts through the sanctuary of our locked doors, shattering life's illusory transparency and predictability. A dark, implacable force with a ferocious appetite for autistic activity, Chigurh is author Cormac McCarthy's imaginative embodiment of the demonic. Staged upon the wreckage of the 20th Century, a combustion of chaos and blood lust, McCarthy's novel No Country for Old Men, and Joel and Ethan Coen's cinematic interpretation, is replete with a history of metaphor and myth dramatizing the existence of good and evil, a fall from innocence, and our intimacy with the Devil.

Casting us into a visual inferno, cinematographer Roger Deakins recreates our terra infidel. Shifting back and forth between dark, dank motel rooms and sun-dried plains under glaring blue skies, his pallet of cadmium yellow and cobalt blue inversely echo each other as the camera weaves together darkness and light in scenes overlaid with the deep crimson of blood. Camera close-ups of bloodstained money, exchanged hand to hand, from men to children, remind us of the inherited and collective guilt of humanity. When Carson Wells (Woody Harrelson), a former Vietnam colonel, accepts a plastic credit card to do his killing, we recognize our modern dissociation from that guilt.

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