The news of Cormac McCarthy’s death earlier this week was met with an anticipated fire of melancholy. McCarthy, 89, was one of the few living writers to hold the title of Great American Novelist, not only because his writings are so popular and how often he sheds light on key issues that are both mythical and distasteful. Southwest character. Its sudden absence leaves a Grand Canyon-sized crater on the literary landscape.
One has to wonder what McCarthy has to say about such overt laments, with his death the world is making a huge deal. After all, death was a defining subject of his work. The barbarian cast a terrible shadow on his visions of the past and future, and the films made from them that are rarely as good as books.
In his work, McCarthy was almost never emotional about death. He accepted it as a constantly emerging, indiscriminate purpose, often brutal to realize, an inescapable reality. You could say that Tuesday’s death fulfilled the promise and invisible dramatic curve of his bibliography: Like another American sickly busy writer, Emily Dickinson, she seemed to have been preparing for it her entire career.
Hollywood has, at least once, succeeded in suppressing the fatalistic power of McCarthy’s work. On the screen, as on the page, No country for old people An incredibly weak, disgusting thriller that decays like a corpse under the sweltering Texas sun, becoming a kind of deconstruction of the genre itself. Much of the book’s proclivity for adaptation stems from how it’s written: McCarthy originally conceived the story as a screenplay, and these origins can be identified in his lively, somber 2005 bestselling book he wrote instead, typically characterized by sparse prose but also by an unusually direct presentation. events. It already reads like a movie, and big filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, officially tasked with making it into a movie, treat words like a plan. They no country it is a faithful act of transcription, make or receive a few concessions.
Most importantly, the Coens preserved the brutally, deceptively direct narrative of the novel. And that contains the story’s biggest surprise and most devastating twist, so radical you can’t believe it turned an Academy Award-winning movie into a studio picture, let alone a Best Picture. Of all the deaths in McCarthy’s business, is there one more gritty, shockingly obscure — spoiler alert — than the vile ending of shot and killed cowboy hero Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin)? offscreen at the end of the second act?
This selection, of course, came out of the book. Wait a minute, Moss, the grumpy, resourceful, prototype Marlboro Man we’ve followed through nearly 230 pages of life-or-death situations, chatting amicably with a roguish stranger at a motel. In the next step, he died lifeless on a slab; a detail that manifests itself with little passion or emphasis, as if it were no more important than any other.
The Coens, in fact, add a little more suspense to the moment, or maybe just a different kind: Instead of investigating the crime scene hours later—McCarthy strategically hides information about who died for several pages—Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is right in the middle of the gunfight. appears at the end, but not early enough to see our hero breathe his last. Moss dies between scenes after the Coens exit a casual poolside conversation and before returning to the aftermath of a bloodbath in which Brolin’s outlaw is already dormant.
Since Norman Bates landed the knife in a downpour, Marion Crane hasn’t so diabolically shocked audiences’ expectations in a Hollywood thriller. With psychopathHitchcock was making his final joke to the audience, prematurely extinguishing his hero to send a grinning warning: You are not safe, no one is safe, all bets are off.
no countryrevolving around the MacGuffin of a similarly stolen money bag, it’s almost unsettling. He also tugs at the carpet as an expression of his worldview, with a philosophical intent.
HE no country works perfectly as a thriller until it doesn’t become part of its brilliant design. For a long time it has offered traditionally entertaining products, albeit in a more frightening variety than ever before: a white hat (Moss), a black hat (Javier Bardem’s blood-curdling assassin, Anton Chigur, one of cinema’s greatest villains), and a lawman (Bell) holding the back. They chase each other. The movie is such a thin, muscular genre filmmaking that you can’t help but mistake it for an archetypal exercise – a terribly skeletal, violent game of cat and mouse, just “about” expert mechanics. And so when Moss promises to bring the war to Chigur, it feels like the movie is preparing us for one final Gunslinger showdown, a duel that will last for the ages.
And that’s part of the brutality of the way things go: Moss’s unseen, unexpected death prevents the audience from seeing the exciting climax we’ve been taught. It’s not just that the cowboy wins – that sometimes happens in Western movies. Without admiration, without the death scene, without the legendary Butch and Sundance frozen frame, he lost. Not heroic. Not in the end. To the extent that he shoots, we do not see him. He dies alone in the dark nothingness between the scenes. And it wasn’t even the big bad Chigur who killed him. An anonymous, almost invisible group of cartel members.
McCarthy’s point is simple but deeply expressed. He turns the course of his story upside down to blame the entire romantic framework of our western rogue stories and confuse our ideas about a moral universe – the misleading impression that focuses on a mano-a-mano climax. There’s no real lesson to be learned from Llewelyn’s fate: Yes, she takes the money (no offense, or so we’ve been told), but she also comes back to give a dying man water and puts his skin on. line. And he said that Chigur without pity, without remorse, even reasonthroughout the story.
It may be tempting to view Bardem’s insane murderer as a force of pure evil, but McCarthy even takes away the comfort of this moral reading by making him mortal without knocking him out. another No Country’their brilliant destruction mocks us with almost an irony. After Chigur escapes the law and clears the kill list, he is randomly shot by another driver at a residential fender bender. Will this demolition vehicle meet its creator in an ordinary car crash? No, it will get rid of it too. There is no logic to who will die and when. None of them make sense.
Ultimately, what hurts most and best is off-screen death, this diabolical subtraction of the event. Refusing to portray Moss’s final moments, the Coens follow in McCarthy’s footsteps to capture the cruel, senseless, inevitable suddenness of death. One minute you’re alive, the next you’re not. A fate that is impossible to avoid or predict. Or, as someone phrased it towards the disturbing ending No country for old people“You can’t stop what’s coming.”
Of course McCarthy couldn’t either. But before joining all the fictional men and women he first sent into the dark, he had a nasty, memorable way of saying it.