Thursday, May 12, 2011

No Country for Old Men

Cormac McCarthy writes powerful novels about real life and people. The Coen brothers 2007 movie adaptation of his "No Country for Old Men" (2005) has a rare feeling of what life is and raises so many thoughts about humanity in the minds of viewers. Careful choice of the cast made the movie unforgettable and it certainly deserves those four Academy Awards. For example, laconic Tommy Lee Jones as sheriff Ed Tom Belltruly is at home in that desolate town near the US Mexico border. There are few movie villains as surprising and complex as Javier Bardem in the role of Anton Chigurh.

For a theologian there are powerful themes of fate and circumstance, men deciding matters of life and death for others, perhaps by the toss of a coin, the disgusting lure of material riches and the totally merciless world of drug lords playing on the background of truly desolate landscape of Western Texas.

This godless world is not perhaps the world of a thinking atheists convinced about the superiority of scientific truth over anything based on faith on supreme beings.
In some way the movie is like a documentary of National Geographic describing with those amazing camera angles life in some distant part of our planet where animals are living as they are far from humans. Tragedies, happy endings, family life, cruel attacks, sunshine and rain, life goes on and there is no particular meaning or significance to it.

The desert jungle of "No Country for Old Men" describes truthfully people who are rather godless in the sense that they do not care too much about Ten Commandments, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not kill (murder). Instead of loving God they obviously worship Mammon as real people do. Police and law enforcement has minimal role in the movie and is not the cliche ending of blinking lights and sirens telling us that that tension is over and the bad guys are dead.

The book and movie describe life as it is and there is that National Geographic feeling of natural life rolling on, rain and sunshine, summer and winter, people being born, people being shot to pieces, people bleeding to death, people driving cars, people being murdered after returning from the funeral of their murdered dear ones because someone has decided so. In the best Hitchcock style.

No, this is not an atheist movie trying to show that there is no need for any gods. The people in the story may be good Christians in the American way but it does not matter.

This movie tells about the thing Bible calls "the secret power of lawlessness"

"For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way."
2 Thess 2:7

Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh

Perhaps because of the unusually powerful acting by Bardem, perhaps because this intrigued also the directors of the movie, there is the impression that the true hero of this story is the sociopath, the totally lawless Anton.

There is secret power in his lawlessness that attracts our attention, because like him, we also like to be gods deciding ourselves matters of life and death.

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