Sample Essay: Formal Film Analysis

The No Country for Old Men film depicts drug violence among various distinct parties. The battle takes place at the border of Texas and Mexico. One man discovers a briefcase full of drug money and decides to run off with it. However, he is trailed by a murderous psychopath who is hired to search for him and recover the cash. The film effectively captures and develops viable emotions among the audience through quality prompts aligned to cinematography, sound, mise-en-scene, and editing forms. These aspects combine to build a significant meaning to the audience since they aid in the establishment of quality feelings, attitudes, and moods. Notable emotions include disappointment, anger, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and intense discomfort. The No Country for Old Men film effectively relies on quality editing, sound elements, and excellent arrangement of scenes and props organization to ensure that the audience develop emotions aligned to prevailing situations and conditions. 

Cinematography and Sound 

The film uses visual and auditory impressions to create a convincing emotion among viewers. It depicts an image of light and shadow as well as silence and bursts of sound evidenced in distinct scenes in the movie. At the start, the film is shot in a setting characterized by a glare. The Western Texas desert region sets the pace for the movie. Most of the scenes in the film incorporates shadows and night settings (Riyanti, 2020). The audience may fail to develop the expected emotions due to the contracts of shadow and night perspectives in the movie. For example, it may inform an outcome such as an unhappy ending, making the audience develop negative feelings such as anger and disappointment. Another key cinematography element is the shot and camera proxemics. The images depict a full wide shot. For example, a sight of Chigurh reveals an entire body shot since it is proportional to the room sides. The film uses a high-angle shot that represents a belief in fate. 

Amidst the visual impression lies the varying sound impressions. On one hand, the movie is devoid of music contracts but later integrates gun explosions. The lack of music in the film intensifies suspense among the audience. Cohen (249) notes that music creates essential emotions in a movie. However, the absence of music in a film affects the intensity of the images depicted on the screen. The movie at hand fails to integrate the music element in most of the scenes but instead chose to use the gun explosion effect. However, the author may have met the desired objective by using guns since it helps to create emotions of fear and anxiety among the viewers. The sound of the guns is likely to compel the audience to react in a particular manner. 


The arrangement of the scenery and props dictate mood and feelings. One of the vital elements that define this perspective is the costume. A large segment of the characters wears specific clothes depending on their locations. For example, some of the common clothing styles include denim and checked shirts. The representation adopted by the audience is that of a traditional Western approach. The titles ‘Cowboy, Sheriff, and Hunter’ represent Western culture. However, the main cast, Chigurh wears a dark blue costume containing a straight line. Depending on the clothing strategy, the audience views him as a character lacking place or time. His clothing also contrasts with the brown and beige color of the locations. Costumes also define persona characteristics. For example, even after being attacked during the gunfire exchange, Moss still wars his boots while in the hospitals. This depicts his undefeated zeal. Notably, the loop of wires hanging in the shop showcases danger in the prevailing conversation. These loops represent actions such as trap setting and tightening of the victim if given a chance. Along with the loops of wire is a coin that, when tossed, represents fate or destiny (McCarthy 5). Thus, the costumes allow the audience to familiarize themselves with the roles of each of the characters. Lastly, the loops of wire hanging in the shop invoke the viewers to develop emotions such as anxiety and distress.


The film uses a shot-reverse-shot approach to create a discomfort feeling in the public domain. For example, the conversation between Chirgurh and the shopkeeper bounces back and forth. When a dialogue turns to a dangerous level, the camera moves closer to each of the character’s faces. This invokes an intense feeling among the viewers. The close capture of the characters permits the audience to develop a sense of extreme discomfort in the situation and the possible danger that lies ahead. 


The film producers successfully delivered the central message by adopting distinct forms. Excellent editing, effective sound and camera skills and tactics, and also the arrangement of scenes and props act as valuable forms integrated into the film. Each of these forms engaged particular elements to connect with the viewers. Emotions such as anxiety, discomfort, anger, dissatisfaction allow the audience to sharpen their understanding of the broader message. Thus, filmmakers should always focus on implementing necessary forms that permit the audience to connect with the characters and the concept communicated in the movie.


Works Cited

Cohen, Annabel J. “Music as a source of emotion in the film.” Music and emotion: Theory and research (2001): 249-272.

Riyanti, S. (2020). No Country for Old Men ”Full Movie HD Eng sub. Retrieved 28 March 2020, from

McCarthy, Cormac. “No Country for Old Men. 2005.” New York: Vintage (2006): 1-6.

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