No Country For Old Men Analysis

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Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2007 film No Country for Old Men main antagonist is Anton Chigurh, played by Javier Bardem. We see him kill several people before the scene at the gas station, where he and proprietor of the station talk. Eventually Chigurh forces him to call heads or tails. After the coin is called, Chigurh tells the man to keep it. In his review of the film for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw called the scene “scalp-pricklingly disturbing.” The Coen brothers used various elements that gave the scene that effect and contributed to its overall importance in the film, especially the characterization of Anton Chigurh. This scene is very important to the film, less in that it advances the plot but more in that it establishes Chigurh. That’s very much because of the striking dialogue; in his review of the film, Roger Ebert said that the dialogue was “as good as any you will hear this year.” Sometimes a genre of a film can be generalized in oppositions. This scene has its oppositions too; it’s Anton Chigurh vs the proprietor, and Chigurh gives him an option albeit the proprietor doesn’t know what it is; life or death decided through heads or tails. The coin toss is a recurring motif and is repeated by Chigurh again at the end of the film with Carla Jean, though she rejects it. It’s also a symbol, because it stands in for life or death by Chigurh’s bolt gun.

The first thing that’s unsettling in the scene is Chigurh himself. Javier Bardem plays his character with scathing
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