Dark Pasts and Black Screens: The Adaptation of Bell in No Country for Old Men

Dark Pasts and Black Screens: The Adaptation of Bell in No Country for Old Men

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I ordered all of my books for the upcoming semester over the winter break while staying with my parents. Upon their arrival from Amazon, my dad plucked No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy from the pile with enthusiasm. Not that I do not trust or honor my father’s opinion, but usually his taste in novels is questionable. Besides his collection of Jimmy Buffett biographies, most of his choice novels feature soldiers or guns on the cover. I don’t have anything against these books. They just aren’t my style. So, when my dad picked up No Country for Old Men, I expected a plot driven, action novel that my anxiety and patience probably wouldn’t be able to handle. I anticipated a work made for an easy transition to film. However, I was wrong. Cormac McCarthy’s novel, in my opinion, was much more than another made for-screen-thriller. Surprisingly, I found the novel to be nuanced and ambiguous, featuring thought provoking ethical decisions that blur the boundaries of right and wrong.
This novel is riddled with moral complications. Cormac McCarthy challenges the seemingly black and white nature of society’s rules by highlighting the gray areas of love and motivation. If you break the law, your actions are illegal, but are they wrong? This is the question McCarthy asks the reader throughout the entirety of the novel. McCarthy’s multi-layered novel is able to weave ethical questions throughout the plot with the use of three main characters acting as narrators: Anton Chigurh, Llewelyn Moss, and Sheriff Ed Tom Bell. Each gives a situational explanation of their faults that makes it impossible to identify one character that is completely innocent, and therefore a hero. The only thing that links Chigurh, Moss, and Bell is that...


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... house. 2008.

McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. New York City: Vintage, 2005. Print.
Movieweb. “No Country for Old Men - Interviews with Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin”. Online movie clip. YouTube. YouTube, 18 Sep. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
No Country for Old Men. Dir. Joel Coen. Prod. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen. Perf. Javier
Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones. Miramax, 2007. DVD.
O'Brien, Geoffrey. "Gone Tomorrow: The Echoing Spaces Of Joel & Ethan Coen's "No Country For Old Men.." Film Comment 43.6 (2007): 28-31. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 May 2014.
Stam, Robert. "Introduction: The Theory and Practice of Adapation." Introduction.
Literature and Film: A Guide to The Theory and Practice of Adaptation. Malden:
Blackwell, 2005. 1-52. Print.
Quart, Leonard. "The Final Word." Cineaste 16.3 (1988): 64. JSTOR. Web. 30 Apr.

2014.

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