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Carlie Nevils Paper 2. Final Draft February 27, 2012 English 1102/ Mrs. Redding The Reality of Film Ethan and Joel Coen directed the award winning film, “No Country for Old Men”. The Coen brothers open the film with an image shot of a deserted, wide-open country in west Texas. The characteristics were uniquely detailed in the field; the trees, sunset, the progression of the light as the sky got brighter, and the evident torn barbwire fence. The torn fence showed little boundary and endless vision of the pasture. The picture comes across as a simple and clear image, but it also happens to pan out the whole story line using the distinctive features in the field. Throughout the film mankind figures into the geography of each picture, whether it is an innocent or harmful vibe given to the audience. During the film the story has few limitations and endless ways to interpret each situation, just as the opening picture distinctively showed each feature. The Coen brothers emphasize natural and realistic sounds and lighting in each scene to capture the reality, yet unbelievable events that took place during the film. The sounds that are used in the film are emphasized as the individual characters stress each movement, because they are all key components of the film. This aspect gives the movie a more “realistic” feel, unlike other movies that demonstrate sound with dramatic music to emphasize what’s going on in the scene. The directors of “No Country for Old Men” choose to emphasize the sounds that are actually happening rather than


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using music. The Coen brothers do this to simply capture the reality of what is taking place. The first scene that shows the evidence of how important sound is in the film is when Anton Chigurh is making his way to Llewellyn’s hotel room. Llewellyn knows that something is about to happen and the directors focus on expressing Chigurh and Llewellyn’s every move in this scene. The directors leer the audience in with the vague footsteps that Anton Chigurh makes going down the hallway of the hotel so that before he shoots the silencer, the anticipation will be so severe that no one will realize what is about to happen. This scene is revealed and stands out for many different reasons, one being that, if this were to be a real life scenario, anyone who is about to face a serial killer would be anxiously waiting and listening for specific signs of movement. Another scene that supports the evidence of why sound is so important during the film was in heat of the movie, when Carson (investigator) finishes speaking to Llewellyn in the hospital, and Chigurh follows Carson to his apartment from the hospital. The directors put in a surprise twist by having Chigurh stand at the foot of the stairs and wait to follow Carson into his room to “chat.” While they are having their conversation, it is hard to pay attention to what they are saying because the audience is wondering what is going to happen. Their conversation is calm and quiet, with no movement from either of the actors. The directors have all ears intently listening to the conversation, then suddenly the phone loudly rings and the directors do a great job of raising the question, “who could it be?” The sound of the intense ring startles the audience and catches their attention, in a realistic way. Chigurh is obviously the “bad guy”, but the Coen brothers never clarify


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whether or not Carson should be trusted or killed along with Chigurh. If the directors had used music during this scene it would have given away Carson’s true identity. The producers of the film chose to use natural lighting throughout the movie. The natural lighting made the film seem very realistic as well. The setting of the film is in Texas and Mexico, which are both naturally sunny, bright places. By using natural sunlight it gave the film a realistic effect of what could really be happening. Other than just sunlight, the Coen brothers include lamps, streetlights and other types of natural lighting to shoot the scenes in a realistic way. One way the Coen brothers show natural lighting is when Llewellyn is anxiously waiting for Chigurh to show up at the hotel, the lamp on the bedside table is the only light on in the room. Once he turns the lamp off, the room goes almost pitch black other than the faint lighting of the street lamp shinning in through the window. Having the faint, natural lighting gives the movie an eerie feel. It allows you to only see certain shadows and not as many movements of the actors that you would normally see in a typical thriller movie. The directors chose to light this scene with only the faint light to increase the focus on what was actually happening in the hotel. Once the light was cut off in the room, Chigurh’s footsteps could be seen on the other side of the door. However, when Chigurh cut off the light in the hallway the directors made it where Llewellyn could not see what was on the other side, by using the faint light the directors created suspense of what was to come and a real experience for their audience. The Coen brothers do a great job of detailing each image throughout this film and making each noise sound as if it were happening in real life. The Coen brothers made this movie to be as realistic as possible. The suspense it gives the audience makes us feel as if


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we were experiencing every situation. The first image of a movie can show a lot of detail on which the film is based on, such as this film did. The whistle in the wind, the sounds of nature, and the silence in the distance in the first image gave a real impression of what it would be like to stand in the big country pasture. The natural lighting of the first image shows the sunset and the progression of the light, as the sky got brighter. These features came across just as they would in real life. The focus of the evident torn fence shown in the first image indicates that “No Country for Old Men� is a detailed film and through the torn fence is a vision of endless miles of country. Throughout the movie there seems to be endless milestones that cannot be solved nor does the audience ever know if the conflicts are resolved. But through the realistic sound, natural lighting, and the first photo shot in the film the Coen brothers show a real life experience with the special techniques they used to make this film seem as realistic as possible.


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Work Cited No Country for Old Men. Dir. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Perf. Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin. Paramount, 2007. DVD.


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