Study Guide

No Country for Old Men Behind the Scenes

  • Director


    Joel and Ethan Coen tend to do it all when they're creating a movie, from writing the screenplay to controlling every shot from every angle. The overall effect of this creative control is that when you're watching a Coen brothers film, you know you're watching a Coen brothers film. 

    From the long shots of the West Texas landscape to the super sparse dialogue, the Coens have a way of making you squirm—and holding your attention so intensely that you're going to need fingernail-replacement surgery by the time the movie is over.

  • Screenwriters

    What can Joel and Ethan Coen do? Better ask what they can't do. This dynamic duo is a film-making machine, with honors including an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for turning Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men from a novel into a movie script.

    Critics have said that the Coens' script for No Country is one of the most loyal adaptations ever written—and when you're talking about a novelist like Cormac McCarthy, that's a good thing. They may have tweaked a few things in the movie's focus, but the Coen brothers are smart enough to know when to leave a good thing speak for itself.

  • Production Studio

    No Country was co-produced back in 2006 in a 50/50 partnership between Miramax Films and Paramount. But the real driving force behind the movie's production was a guy with a vision named Scott Rudin (the guy was named Scott, not the vision).

    Rudin bought the rights to the Cormac McCarthy novel shortly after the thing came out and then brought it to the Coen brothers to see if they'd direct. The Coens were working on another project at the time, but they saw the potential in Rudin's idea and got to work on adapting McCarthy's book for a screenplay in August of 2005. Good move, guys!

  • Production Design

    From the first scene of No Country the Coens place a lot of emphasis on the landscape of West Texas. They emphasize the sounds of the sand and wind and play up the brightness of the sun reflecting off the desert, drying us out so much that we practically slurped our way through one of those giant Diet Cokes you can get at the movie theater.

    Aside from their landscape lust, the Coens use a lot of interesting camera angles to keep us off-balance as viewers. Take the movie's opening scene, in which he get a from-above shot of Anton Chigurh washing his bloody wrists after strangling a deputy? Unusual and destabilizing? Yep. Memorable and eye-catching? Definitely.

    There's also a funny side to the production of No Country. When the Coens shot the film in 2007, they shot it only a mile or so away from another prestige Western set in Texas: There Will Be Blood. Not only did There Will Be Blood become the Coens' biggest competitor for Best Film at the Academy Awards, but the Coens even had to stop filming one day because a giant cloud of black smoke had drifted over from the other movie's set.

    No Country got the last laugh though: it captured the Best Film Oscar and defeated There Will Be Blood. (No but There Will Be Blood is still a really good movie tho.)

  • Fandoms

    According to Urban Dictionary, No Country has gotten a bad rep over the years because of its snotty fan base that can't handle the possibility that someone might not like this heartbreaking work of staggering genius. So, yeah, you could say there's a fandom.

    That's not to say everyone loves the movie. Plenty of viewers find themselves frustrated by the way the movie upsets their expectations, like by killing off the main character without any real explanation of how it happened. To many viewers, this amounts to bad filmmaking. To fans of the movie, that's just the genius of Joel and Ethan Coen messing with their viewers.

    Like most fandoms, though, they're probably not listening to you.