Why Show No Country for Old Men?

I know what you’re thinking. Or at least I think I have a pretty good idea.

By “you,” I mean those of you who’ve seen or heard about the Academy Award-winning No Country for Old Men and thought to yourselves, Why in the world are they showing that at Talking Pictures? (On Friday, April 18th, 7:00 p.m. in The Crossing’s auditorium, to be specific.)

If you fall into that category, my guess is that you’re currently struggling to think of the “redeeming” aspect of the film. After all, you say, isn’t the movie peppered with violence and—to put it one way—awfully bleak in its outlook? It has nothing approaching a Christian worldview.

Well, yes. That’s all true.

Okay, you’ve even admitted it. So why would you ask us to come view a film like that?

Good question. And by way of response, I should say a few things. First, it’s possible that you shouldn’t see the film. If you’re someone who is especially sensitive to chilling and violent material in films, you probably need to sit this one out. But don’t at all think that you’re somehow inferior for doing so. All Christians—even mature, discerning believers—have particular sensibilities and vulnerabilities that should sometimes dissuade them from seeing specific movies. We should all seek to know ourselves well enough to understand where our personal lines need to be drawn.

Fair enough. But you still haven’t told us why we should watch it….

True. But in my defense, I’ve already mentioned some of the reasons you might want to take in this particular film on this very blog several weeks ago. But then I realize some of you might have missed that post—your web connection was down, your basement flooded, you suffered delirium from a mysterious tropical illness never before reported in mid-Missouri, your dog really did eat your homework, etc.—so I’ll take another brief stab at convincing you.

For one thing, the movie is artistically magnificent. And since we’re made in the image of a God who both creates with unmatched skill and delights in what he has made, you and I should be prepared to acknowledge and appreciate artistic excellence wherever we find it. And in the case of this film, there is plenty to praise. The acting is exceptional. The story and setting are extremely effective in conveying the central idea of the film. In a word, the movie is compelling.

Okay, so the film is well made. But doesn’t the message of the film matter? In fact, if a film has a message that isn’t consistent with a biblical perspective and it’s executed very well, doesn’t that make it even more dangerous?

That’s a fair point. Potentially, I’d say that’s true. But that’s one of the reasons we want to view this film as a part of Talking Pictures—a format where we’re encouraged to approach it thoughtfully and in community with one another. Hopefully, that gives us a better opportunity to evaluate and respond to the film in the correct manner.

And rest assured, engaging movies that are well received in our culture is a critically important task. Why? Such movies are an important window into the beliefs and perspectives of not only those who make them, but also many who view them. In other words, the reflect the worldviews (see Luke’s recent posts) of the people you and I work with, have classes with, talk with at our kids’ soccer games, and even sit across from at the dinner table. And since effectively influencing others with the good news of the gospel will almost invariably involve understanding some of what they believe in the first place (see any number of examples in the New Testament), movies can be a valuable resource for those with the skill to mine them.

In this case, No Country is one of the best portrayals of a certain worldview—a worldview that more people than we might think are sympathetic to—that I’m personally aware of. As such, it should provide its fair share of profitable discussion.

And if you need any more incentive to come to Talking Pictures, there’s always the popcorn.

P. S.: If you do want to join us on the 18th, sign up either at the table in the foyer on Sunday morning or by registering online through The Crossing’s homepage, www.thecrossingchurch.com. Gotta know how much of that popcorn to pop…

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