Saturday, February 17, 2018

When Did Moss Die?

The movie poster for No Country For Old Men superimposes Anton Chigurh coming up out of the dawn horizon and able to see everything. Lewellyn Moss is seen running and Chigurh  takes up the entire sky like the sun. The movie begins with the sun rising. A montage of rough desolate landscapes portrays the sun becoming stronger. Anton Chirgurh is the sun and Sheriff Bell is the moon. This is why they never meet in the film. Moss represents the earth. The movie length is two hours and two minutes and I chose to divide the time frame into four sections and watch for easter eggs with the rough idea that there may be a seasonal structure. The movie begins at dawn with Sheriff Bell relating memories. At the first quarter mark Chigurh enters Moss’s trailer and the date is identified by a telephone bill. The date is Thursday June 5, 1980. That means Moss dies on Friday the 13th. At the halfway mark Chugirh enters Moss’s hotel room at the Eagle Pass and shoots at him as he flees out the window. At the third quarter mark Moss retrieves the money from the Rio Grande river “bank.” The movie ends at dawn with Sheriff Bell relating memories. The two references to dawn and the two scenes with Chigurh entering Moss’s living areas was significant to me. The dawn beginning and ending was in line with the numerous references to circles and circling back patterns in the movie. An anachronistic Dawn dish soap in Moss’s trailer seemed to be an inside joke. I inventoried specific motifs within each of these half hours including any reference to time, date, numbers and celestial objects. I counted 44 numerical or time references in the first half hour. I counted 145 references to numbers or time in the whole movie which is more than one per minute. I counted 80-100 star motifs. Three strange incidents are linked. Wells visits his employer and during the encounter he says he stood outside and counted the floors to the building and one is missing. His observance alludes to the 13th floor being bad luck as well as a conspiracy theory that government office buildings have a missing 13th floor housing sinister operations. Wells is finding a suppressed design. Both Wells and Chigurh visit this same room at 3:10 on consecutive days. Sheriff Bell seems to learn or know more during the dark. His dream states and memories appear to be more insightful than his waking time and the association with star motifs supports him being a celestial persona. His sense of being outmatched is a good metaphor for the unreliability of navigating just by the moon. 

Using the telephone bill as a way to trace the time line of events we can establish that Anton Chigurh is arrested on Saturday June 7, 1980 in West Texas, On that date a “killer heat wave” hit West Texas and spread across the state until Hurricane Allen broke it up on August 10. There was also a solar eclipse on August 10. The car accident makes a nice metaphor for the hurricane stopping the heat wave. Repeated motifs and references to navigation can be found in this movie as well as The Counselor. Hunting, tracking, reverse tires tracks coming back as going, about the same time, mirror the near contact between the three male characters. Moss entering the Eagle Pass Hotel with the numbers reversed then later he back tracks to enter the Eagle Pass hotel with numbers facing front repeats the idea of circling back. The circling back motif could symbolize the way the sun and earth rotate different directions.The satchel with the money is a pilot’s bag used to carry navigation charts and tools. Woody Harrelson says the last date he saw Chigurh was November 28, 1979. Is this date random or does it tell us something about Wells and Chigurh? That is the date of the Mt. Erebus plane crash in Antartica killing all 257 people on board. The crash occurred because a correction of a typing error in the navigational chart was not reported to the pilots the night before the flight. Only three police agencies in the world had trained for Disaster Victim Identification including New Zealand, New South Wales and the United States. Is it possible that Wells and Chigurh could be deployed to a plane crash? Is it possible we
could see these two characters as having the skills to be called for search and rescue versus search and kill?

Excerpted from "The Suppressed Design of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and THE COUNSELOR As Viewed Through Spenser's EPITHLAMION." by Candy Minx. Presented in ALQ, NM on February 10, 2018.


Candy Minx said...
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Candy Minx said...

Saturday, June 7, 1980

“killer heat wave” begins in West Texas
Anton Chigurh arrested
Chigurh says “hold still”
cut to Moss saying
through rifle cross hairs “hold still
Moss finds money
Goes back to ok corral with aqua
dawn dog chases him into river

Sunday June 8, 1980

Chigurh kills 2 at ok corral
Moss gets home at night
Tells Carla to go to Odessa
(160 miles)
says it’s midnight Sunday
the courthouse opens at 9am

Monday, June 9, 1980

Chirgurh enters Moss’s trailer
reads telephone bill June 5, 1980
Moss gets motel in Del Rio
(166 miles)
Chigurh tracks Moss to motel

Tuesday, June 10, 1980

Moss checks into Eagle Pass Hotel
(55 miles)
Carson Wells visits “13th floor” at 3:10
a night confrontation
Chigurh enters Moss’s room
shoots at Moss from hotel room window

Wednesday, June 11, 1980

Moss crosses the border
Moss wakes up morning on street
Mariachi band playing
gets medical help in hospital
Chigurh kills men 13th floor at 3:10
(same time as Wells visits the day earlier)
Carson Wells visits
Wells is killed by Moss in Eagle Pass Hotel

Thursday, June 12, 1980

morning Moss crosses border, gets new clothes
goes to the river “bank” to get satchel
Moss phones Carla from bus depot
asks Carla to meet her in El Paso
(482 miles from Eagle Pass)
(283 miles from Odessa)

Friday, June 13, 1980

Shadows suggest noon
both in scene with chicken truck and Chigurh
as well as Moss by the motel swimming pool
(he could not get a bus from Eagle Pass to El Paso
arriving before evening the previous day)
Moss is killed
Bell arrives
Carla arrives
Bell returns to room
and Chigurh seems to be near unseen