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Thread: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

  1. #1
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    United States Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    I read through this awesome novel not too long ago now. It employs an interesting form of English, evidently meant to convey the spoken word through literary expression, if that makes sense. Punctuation is often ignored and the text is written to flow the way one would speak, especially one from the book's setting, in rural 1970s Texas. It also uses purposeful inaccuracies for sheriff Bell in particular, employing the mistake I too often see online today of writing "of" instead of "have" in the auxiliary.

    Moving beyond the style, I found that, while the film followed this novel quite closely, there was one major omission in the film which, I believe, explains the entire mysterious story in a way that is missing from the film because of its omission. It involves the military background of sheriff Bell, specifically a powerful event that occurred and a choice that he was forced to make. So much of the novel's basic plot revolves around the ideas of choice and fate, and that event in the war not only informs this, but even the dates and ages appear to be significant. Llewellyn Moss was 36 in the story (my present age, incidentally), and as far as I could tell, that was the exact time that had elapsed from the event in WWII until the story's events set in the 70s.

    Anyone have any thoughts about this wonderful book or what I've noticed in it?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    I read the book a while ago, so my recall is somewhat limited. You have some interesting insights on the novel - things that I hadn't considered during my reading of it. Unfortunately, I saw the film first, and that led me to take a more matter-of-fact approach to reading the book. When I look reflect on the story, the film version completely dominates in my mind.

    By the way, Harry, do you live in the Twin Cities area?

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    Default Re: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    Kind of. Just a ways north of the Metro Area, if not in it. As for the film, I've seen it multiple times and did so before reading the book, but aside from picturing characters as their movie depictions, it did not interfere too much for me.

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    Default Re: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    I only watched the film, but it's become my favourite Coen brothers film. I understand that those seeking more depth might be happier with the novel, but what makes the film great for me is the way it is edited, which makes it flow basically only with the power of images and sound, very little is spoken, making it incredibly immersive, quite dreamlike, entrancing. It just makes you forget that time exists, and it's the greatest thing a piece of art can do to you, IMHO.

    But I'm willing to read the novel soon too

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    Default Re: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    I think that "flow" of the film was artfully taken from how the novel was written. The use of language I mentioned in my OP does create a rather fast and smooth flow to the action and dialogue. It does not even use quotation marks for dialogue, and the use of language is about as informal in narration as in the dialogue, although it avoids certain purposeful mistakes in the narration that are employed in the parts meant to be from Sheriff Bell. All in all, it really uses prose in a unique and interesting way. This was something that obviously could not easily be translated to the film, but that pace and flow that you mention is clearly one way it was accomplished.

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    Default Re: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    One of my favorite scenes in the film involves calling the coin. It relates to the themes of choice and fate that Harry noted in an earlier post. And from what I can recall, the script for this scene is true to McCarthy's words in the book.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLCL6OYbSTw

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    Default Re: Cormac McCarthy: No Country for Old Men

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevie B View Post
    One of my favorite scenes in the film involves calling the coin. It relates to the themes of choice and fate that Harry noted in an earlier post. And from what I can recall, the script for this scene is true to McCarthy's words in the book.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLCL6OYbSTw
    Agree absolutely. It's a great scene, and indeed everything you see in the film is more or less verbatim from the novel. The novel just adds some things, or rather, the film just subtracts some things. Going back to my OP, though, what is subtracted can be both minor and significant, depending on how one looks at it!

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