Monday, February 18, 2008

No Country for Old Men

Loving the Villian?

The most compelling thing about No Country for Old Men is its psychopathic serial killer Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), who happens to be one of the scariest villians ever on the silver screen.

He is even scarier than Hannibal Lector, Darth Vader, and Norman Bates because this one has no redeeming value (whereas Lector had a wicked sense of humor; Vader had a sliver of a soul; and Bates ran an affordable hotel and had an good taxidermist operation going). Chigurh is not a James Bond villian, because he doesn't waste time talking his victims to death. No, this guy is mean and takes no prisoners in his neverending quest for God knows what.

That's the thing. We never really know what Chigruh's motives are. Does he want the money at the heart of this plot, or does he just enjoy killing for the thrill of it? After 122 minutes of film, I couldn't tell you much about this maniac. All I know, all anyone knows, is that he is a very scary man who kills without a second thought.

Perhaps we aren't supposed to know his motives, his past, or his future for that matter. If we knew more about him, the movie might try to get us to sympathize with this guy. He might appear human if they gave us more expostion. Instead, all we know is that he is a cold-hearted murderer with a really bad haircut.

This year, Javier Bardem has won countless awards for playing him. And there is a certain lesson in the acolades he has received for playing such a dark soul.

After seeing the blood and destruction caused by this psychopath, we wonder if anyone could stand being around him. I know I would run the other way if I came into the room with him.

But then I got to thinking about those awards.

I started to think that these awards are just like the grace and love God bestows on all of us. No matter how inhuman people may seem, God has the freedom to love whomever He pleases, like handing out celestial Oscars and Golden Globes to all people.

If we can believe that God loves even this most unlovable person, then we can never doubt that God loves us too, despite our inperfections and our mistakes.

Near the end of the film, Sherriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) tells his father that he feels God has pretty much given up on him - and he doesn't blame the Almighty all that much for doing so. His father dismisses this, and for good reason. Here the one good soul of the film doubts God cares about him.

If only Sherriff Bell could read this blog: If God can love the villian Anton Chigurh, he can love you, too. And he does.

PS: Even though God does love the least worthy, it does not excuse the actions committed by this character or any person who harms another human being. Love is a two-way street, and unless a person like Chigurh repents and seeks redemption, that love will forever be one way - which is not the best kind of love to go into the afterlife with. Up to that point, however, there's always an opportunity to repent and embrace the Gospel. The question is whether he, or any of us, will take that redeeming opportunity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just a thought- After reading your post, it reminds me of the sad and unfortunate recent events at NIU. I feel for the shooter and for those who were innocently shot and did not survive. I read in the newspaper that Dan Parmenter, one of the victims who died, was praying for himself and his girlfriend even as he was shot.
It makes me think about how precious life is and that life is short. Each day is a gift.
I am praying for everyone involved in the most recent shootings. It just is so sad in the news these days, that I hardly watch it anymore. Any thoughts?