“Old Nowhere”: A New Type of Western Story

The Coen Brothers’ new westerns-also called fashion westerns-“No Country for Old Men” (No Country for Old Men) is a masterpiece. The film is adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name. The relationship between novels and movies is very interesting. Some are made into movies because novels have become masterpieces. This is not uncommon. Others are known only because they have been made into wonderful movie novels, which is rare. “Old Nowhere” is somewhere in between. The novel is great, and the movie is even more exciting.

This film breaks through the audience’s expectations, subverts the existing viewing experience, creates a huge tension, forms a unique aesthetic style, and provides a new story genre for the ancient type of western film, making it Western films have received new attention and have produced new vitality.

Three men in a play

They all say “three women in one drama”, but this is not the rule of Western movies. Western movies are basically the world of men. Except for individual films where women confront each other-such as “Johnny Guitar”-the ultimate confrontation between men is its authenticity. “Old Nowhere” continues this tradition, starring a play with three men. One is the cowboy Moss (who originally worked as a welder) who accidentally picked up $2.4 million in ill-gotten wealth, the other is the vicious and unreasonable professional killer Zieg, and the other is the old Sheriff Bell with a sense of morality and justice. . Three men are linked together because of a box of dollars: Moss is chased by Zieg, and Bell wants to stop the case and arrest Zieg. In essence, this movie is full of plots of “escape/hunt”, which means that some mantis catches the cicada and oriole in the back. It’s just that neither the cicada, the praying mantis, or the oriole directly achieved their goals. How Moss evaded Zieg’s pursuit is the main content of the movie. Moss has served twice, participated in the Vietnam War, and has a wealth of anti-reconnaissance capabilities. However, the killer Zieg is still slightly better, so he can press on step by step and keep getting closer to the goal. Although the two fought close, they failed to take a good look at each other. Especially in the final stage, the plot took a turn for the worse. Moss did not die at the hands of Zieg, but died in a melee with the Mexicans. Until Moss died, Zieg didn’t have a chance to look at Moss, and of course Moss didn’t have a chance to look at him. When Bell was looking at Moss, he was in the morgue. On the other hand, Bell and Zieg are always missed. Bell kept passing by in the process of tracking Zieg. When the two were closest, they were only one door away, but the two never met each other. Faced with such an opponent, Bell had a very strong sense of powerlessness and finally resigned. Therefore, although the movie is about the story of a confrontation between three men, the three have never appeared on the same occasion at the same time, and they have no chance to look at each other.

What is “the old have nowhere to depend”
The so-called “the old have no one to rely on” is from the perspective of Sheriff Bell.

First, compared with the past, in terms of the overall social environment, we are facing the loss of traditional virtues. The former sheriff could manage the residents of the jurisdiction without a gun, and the overall situation was harmonious. In 2010, Canada filmed “Gunless”, which tells the story that love can defeat guns in the traditional west. Although money and drugs have always been a source of evil, they have never been so naked as they are today. With the development of society, there are more and more violent crimes. People can only use guns to solve problems, and sometimes even guns can’t solve the problems.

On the other hand, it is the loss of the younger generation, which makes the upright elderly lose their confidence in society. For example, at the beginning of the movie, Bell’s voice-over was used to tell the crime story of a 14-year-old boy. He killed a girl, not a crime of passion, but an incomprehensible “reason”. He claimed that he planned homicide since he was a child, and if he was released, he would still kill. This kind of thing is too cruel for Bell who sticks to traditional morality.

The killer Zieg is even more unreasonable and does not play cards according to the routine. Anyone who hinders his plan will be killed. For those who have nothing to do with his plan, he will toss a coin to decide whether to take the next step. All of these symbolize the loss of social rationality.

As the sheriff, Bell cannot understand the current society, and is unable to change the status quo. This creates a strong sense of “abandonment”, and he has nowhere to rely on the old.

Symmetry of works
The character setting of “Old Nowhere” is full of symmetry. On the one hand, it is to escape and on the other hand to chase. Although it is based on “escape”, there are many scenes about the killer Zieg, but the process of obtaining intelligence is omitted. , But increased the mystery of the characters. Coupled with his steel body, weird hairstyle, and cruel methods, Javier Baden performed this role brilliantly and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. On the other hand, there is also a symmetric structure between Sheriff Bell and the killer Zieg. The sheriff can always restore the killer’s trajectory through the crime scene, although he is one step late each time.

The plot of the movie is also full of symmetry, with both individual symmetry and symmetry between opponents.

Zieg’s method of flipping a coin to make decisions is used symmetrically in the movie. The first time it was at the gas station, the host just greeted him politely, but it aroused his vigilance and disgust. In the end, Zieg decided to toss a coin to decide whether to attack such an insignificant person. He selected one of the coins minted in 1958 and said that after 22 years this coin came here. This detail also confirms that the story happened in 1980. When he asked the owner to guess the front and back of the coin, the owner was a little baffled. Fortunately, he guessed it right. Zieg gave him the twenty-five cent coin, told him to cherish it, and told him it was a “lucky coin.” The owner didn’t react for a while, and in the end he was still in a state of “understanding the taste”, not knowing that he had just passed by the god of death. And Moss’s wife, Carla Jean, was not so lucky. According to common sense, Moss has died, and Zieg took the money. There is no reason to chase after Kara Jean, who has nothing to do with the matter, but Zieg has gone. According to his own introduction, the reason why he went was also decided by guessing coins. This is Zieg’s way of doing things. Decisions are made by flipping a coin. This is his principle, and this principle is full of variables and is a paradox.

Moss and Zieg are rivals, forming a tension between the two. What’s interesting is that the two of them have similar actions. They both spent a lot of money to buy other people’s clothes, thus forming another kind of symmetry.

After Moss was injured, his coat was stained red with blood. I met three teenagers at the US-Mexico border. One of them asked him, “Did you have a car accident?” Moss did not answer directly, but said that he would buy his coat for US$500 and asked for a bottle of the young man next to him. Beer, relying on this dress and beer, he pretended to be a drunkard and passed the blunder. After Zig killed Carla Jean, he was actually in a car accident. The person who hit him died on the spot. His left arm was fractured. At this time, two boys riding bicycles came, one in a shirt and the other in a shirt. T-shirt. In order to escape the scene quickly, he bought the boy’s shirt for $100 to fix his broken arm, and told the boy not to say he had seen him. Both Moss and Ziegg, in a difficult situation, overcome difficulties by buying other people’s clothes, and finally achieve their goals, forming a symmetry and echoing in the plot.

Film adaptation of novels
Movies are the graphic expression of novels, and they are also a new form of text with creativity. The film “Old Nowhere” is an excellent adaptation of the novel, making the plot compact and suspenseful. Some plots in the novel have been watered down in the movie.

The novel is divided into 13 chapters, using a mixed perspective. Each chapter starts with Sheriff Bell’s first-person narrative, followed by an omniscience narrative to expand the plot. The novel also adopts this narrative mode, opening and ending the story with the narrative of the sheriff. But in the movie, the sheriff’s role was compressed.

In addition to the sheriff’s role, what was reduced was also about the whereabouts of the box of money. Money is the “Mugffin” in the movie. “Mugffin” is an important element in the film’s narrative and an important driving force for the development of the plot. In the movie, this box of money became the object of many characters competing to win. However, in the movie, the box of money finally fell into Zieg’s hands, and then it was gone. In the novel, the whereabouts of the box of money is explained: Zieg returns the box of money to the big boss behind the scenes, who is the real owner of the money. When the big boss asked him why he didn’t take it alone, Zieg replied that it was to prove his professionalism in doing this, and he hoped to strengthen cooperation in the future.

In the novel, there is further investigation and interview of the boy who sold the shirt to Zieg. He was telling a very obvious lie, and his extremely impatient look towards Bell, to a certain extent, strengthened the theme of the novel “the old have nowhere to rely on.” However, if this paragraph is added to the movie, it would be superfluous. The two art forms reached their best in their respective fields. So the film won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.

Jon Brothers Westerns
The Jon brothers have always been known for their unique style, and “Old Nowhere” is their first direct adaptation of a novel. With a cost of 25 million US dollars and a box office of 159 million US dollars, in addition to the best adapted screenplay award, it also won the Oscar for best picture and best director. They have tasted the sweetness from this adaptation, which also shows that the charm of Western films is undiminished, and current directors can still profit from this film genre. So in 2010, they filmed the movie “True Grit” of the same name based on Charles Portis’ novel. “Thunder in the Land” was made into a movie by Henry Hathaway in 1969, and John Wayne was placed on the throne of an Oscar winner. However, the Jon brothers do not think that they are a remake, but a re-creation. Facts have proved that they have succeeded again, and the film finally earned $250 million in box office worldwide. In 2018, they filmed a ensemble western film “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), which also won many heavyweight awards. These three westerns have won a place for the Coen brothers in the history of westerns. They have become one of the few heavyweight directors in the history of westerns in the new century.