The Movie or The Book? : No Country for Old Men 0 Comments

The Movie or The Book? : No Country for Old Men








One marker of a great book is that it teaches me something. McCarthy taught me to break pretty much every rule that I was ever taught in school. Except spelling. I can’t wait ‘til I have an excuse to break that.
You dont know where he’s at, do you.
No I dont. I done told you.

(for those playing at home, and maybe the aficionados of Grammar Booty Call, how many errors or atypical writing devices can you find here?)

Much like trying to read anything by the character Joseph in Wuthering Heights, once you get used to it, or give up and start reading it out loud, the language used is so entirely atmospheric that you could convince yourself you’re some kind of time traveller. These characters have such a perfectly crafted way of speaking that they don’t even need any markers of conversation. And nor are there.

One of the downsides to this is that sometimes it’s confusing. That and I ended up reading the whole thing in a monotone. Although this may have been the intention.

A lot of people die in this story. Sorry, spoiler alert: (a lot of people die). Rather than make a big deal of it though, neither McCarthy nor the characters seem too concerned.

The nightclerk got killed. About as bad a piece of luck as you could have, I reckon. Caught a stray round.
Where’d he catch it?
Right between the eyes.

And that’s entirely how it is in the movie too. People get shot all the time, and it seems that in Texas, blood is as common as sunscreen. It is all part of the assassin, Anton Chigurh’s character, but it also sometimes happens for no reason (sometimes it seems that people die simply because they’re Mexican).

As you would expect, this wears on people after a while, and it was nicely shown how it did so through Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Sherriff Bell. What wears on the audience however, is the jumpy nature of the shots and the filming. That and the Texan accents, where they manage to pronounce ‘cars’ as ‘veer hick culs’

It isn’t necessarily a story that ages well, but it ages even worse in video format. I’ve always found it hard to be afraid of bad guys with terrible haircuts. The technology is old news, as is the kind of dazed feelings of the sheriffs, who don’t understand a world of drug-related violence that has become commonplace for us.

In case you didn’t even believe it was possible, the characters suffer more in the books. But it is the dragging on of this suffering that, when diminished in the film, makes the film more watchable. As for which is better, movie or book, I recommend you just toss a coin for it.



Rafael’s (23) purpose is to give people glorious stories to tell. Some have appeared in dotdotdashGoing Down Swinging and The Big Issue Fiction Edition. He also competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games. Graduated from RMIT’s creative writing program in 2012, he often wonders what he’ll do with the rest of his life, but the answer’s always the same. Writing and falling in love.

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