My first reaction to the movie — “No Country for Old Men” — was one of revulsion and remorse: I initially felt there was too much senseless bloodlust for my taste. Then I watched the movie again and began to appreciate its warning. Then I watched the movie again and again and again and found a depth of understanding that I find curious and vitally important for humankind.
“No Country for Old Men” is a mythical story about the Wages of Sin and the personal price one must pay to set things right again in the delicate tipping of the universe.
No one honorably righteous or fundamentally moral is wounded in the movie.
The only people who find their deaths are the dishonest, the misbegotten and the prejudicial.
“No Country for Old Men” is modern day fairy tale — a moral homily, if you will — about the necessary degradation of humankind into the depths of suffering and the punishment and retribution meted out to those that propose to rise above us while really living beneath us.
The preservation of the status quo — the leveling the pendulum — requires the heavy hand and a loaded shotgun of an anointed Balancer to keep the moral peace.
The Balancer is the hammer of justice, the watcher of the undead, the caller of debts owed, the overlord of the Gods, and the whimpering child in us all.
The trick to understanding “No Country for Old Men” is that you must be old enough to have enough life experience to recognize the ethereal workings of a tertiary world few of us know and none of us understand.
In the movie, only the old and the wounded comprehend the job and the mission of the Balancer.
They are in awe of Him and they fear Him, because while they recognize Him, they already know they cannot hope to catch up to — or beat — the Balancer in the end:
…Goin through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and snowin, hard ridin. Hard country. He rode past me and kept on goin. Never said nothin goin by. He just rode on past and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down…
…and when he rode past I seen he was carryin fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. About the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin on ahead and that he was fixin to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there. Out there up ahead.
All the old men in us have left is mercy for Him and for each other — and that is the ultimate lesson of “No Country for Old Men.”
Once you realize there are powers — stronger than you and more urgent than you — ruling the world… you’re too old and too wise to care to do anything about it… except to keep your own nose clean and hope that the drop of a coin won’t seal your unnatural fate in helping the Balancer correct the right wrongs in a wringing world.