Monday, October 5, 2009


So I've been putting off blogging for several reasons...which could all be summed up in the fact that I really have nothing good to say or talk about as of late.

However, thanks to the only class which I consider worth my hefty investments (Intro to Professional Writing) I do have a topic of interest for those of you kind (or bored) enough to actually read this...spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't seen "No Country For Old Men"

Toward the end of class today, after Mel had discussed the essential elements of scenes in fiction, the question was raised about resolution-less endings in stories - namely the ending of No Country For Old Men. Mel expressed his intense dissatisfaction with the film's ending (despite its otherwise being magnificent), and I, being the devil's advocate that I am, expressed my counter-active appreciation for it.

No Country For Old Men presents the iconic clash of good and evil; there is the psychotic (and very creepy) villain, and a handful of hopeful heroes who attempt to thwart his drug trafficking, serial killing rampage through South Texas. In the end, everyone is dead, the last standing hero is disillusioned and retires, and our villain escapes with the money, but is also (in my opinion) stripped of his own twisted romantic view of himself. Mel hated this, mainly because the hero we're all rooting for recognizes the futility of the fight and quits his quest to bring a very evil, dangerous man to justice. By a mere twist of fate, the villain is badly hurt (but not killed) in a car accident in one of the last scenes, so in some way he gets to suffer, but hardly in proportion to the horror he has wreaked.

I argued for this ending because I am, almost without exception, a pessimist. I liked this ending because it seemed so true to life - ultimately, breaking even is the best you can hope for in my opinion. Good doesn't always make a smashingly triumphant exit, and Evil often doesn't get what it deserves. Sure, the ending to No Country was something that made me recoil and feel pretty bummed. But at the same time it made me believe everything I'd seen, because more often than not, that's how the story really ends.

People often argue against movies and stories that are too truthfully depressing, saying that we use these and similar media as an escape from that reality we are painfully conscious of. I agree completely - total victory of good morals and noble aspirations has universal appeal; it's what everyone wants to see. Not only that, but we want to see it win against all odds and escape highly dangerous situations with lots of dramatic explosions and perhaps some clever dialogue.

Everyone dying or despairing in the end? That's way too realistic....for most. Mel said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that the younger generation can afford to be pessimistic because they've lived long enough to expect not-so-great, but haven't lived long enough to actually experience it. Those who HAVE experienced their fair share of injustice need the hero and his/her ultimate victory in their stories. It preserves the hope that all that injustice will one day be served its dues.

I agree to an extent. When/if I ever have kids, I will certainly not read them stories where everybody dies in the end, they'll figure that out on their own. But will I give them the false impression that good people always get rewarded for being good? Probably not...mostly because I don't want them to wind up as jaded as I am.


  1. I agree 100%. Writing is so much more than entertainment and escapism. Real art imitates life and in life, very often the bad guys get away.

    Good post!

    -Daniel from Spanish class :)

  2. Yeah, I'm of the same belief that most of the time, we won't see good rewarded and evil punished in this life. I'm quite melancholy, so I'd be in a very sucky spot if I didn't believe there was ultimate hope in the end. And I do mean the end. It is hard not to just focus on what's in front of us, though.
    I think artsy people are more sensitive to this stuff. Power to the drama nerds!

  3. Where is grace portrayed in the movie? (There are precious few in the movie and in other books by the author.)

    What I mean by grace is that one suddenly sees something in a new way, a larger picture, a clearer vision of reality. I think you nailed it when you said the villain is "stripped of his own twisted romantic view of himself." Just moments before the car accident, the lady he kills sees the truth of the situation about him avoiding responsibility for his choices based on a flip of a coin.

    If you liked "No Country for Old Men", you should try reading some Flannery O'Connor.