Trailer Park Lady
I chose the single image of the trailer park manager lady, specifically the moment she physically squares off against Chighur. It is such a short and subtle moment, such a slight shift in body language but it speaks volumes and is a pivotal point in the narrative of Chighur as some seemingly invincible angel of death.
The connotative underpinnings of this particular character at this very particular moment is compelling. The audience at once fears for her and celebrates her chutzpah, as if we are all potentially under the caste of an inherent evil represented by Chighur’s omnipotence and are relieved to sense a vulnerability in the monster.
This points to the thematic representation of women in contrast to the men in character, representation and roles. The mise en scène of the trailer park office scene has the woman Chighur encounters seated behind a desk, older, and in every other way in the vulnerable position. Unlike the mise en scène of the scene with the man at the gas station, who is grown, older, but standing and more in a position to defend himself. The gas station owner nonetheless withers slowly in the agonizing scene as Chighur intellectually cloisters and plucks at him like a spider toying with its prey.
The woman in the trailer park is not interested in small talk, so she doesn’t insult Chighur’s sensibilities. She is there to run the trailer park and is not persuadable. She is unmoved by Chighur’s trademark schpiel of ominous inquiries, (“Where does he work?”), riddles and intimidation. She expresses her unmoveability in her simple refusal. This seems to confound Chighur. In the following moments, with no dialogue, Chighur seems to motion that he is going to do something physical, hears the toilet flush and turns to leave. He pauses as if to reconsider but unlike his previous victims, this woman does not stand sheepishly and wait for him to press his air hammer to her forehead. She makes one subtle shift in body language, posturing to assert that she does not suffer fools and is not having any of Chighur’s nonsense. While it seems that she is oblivious to the threat at hand, it also seems clear that that is precisely what makes her most formidable to Chighur, who may have come to rely on his icy and terrifying rap to stun his victims into submission.
The woman at the trailer park and Moss’s wife both appear to symbolize a confounding force to the seemingly unstoppable evil, the “dismal tide” represented by Chighur. The women are operating on a different currency. The symbolic feature of this currency exchange seems to be evident in their inherent unshakable response to Chighur’s previously effective submission technique. Moss’s wife, on realizing the certainty of her fate, takes control of the final moments of her life by refusing to engage in the coin toss. The fear for the loss of life is precisely the currency on which Chighur operates. By devaluing his currency, Moss’s wife and the trailer park lady have stripped him of power.
Every man Chighur encounters appears to be operating on his currency, engaged in a gamble with evil in which the buy in is eminent doom and for which the pay out is whatever a man seeks to gain in the mad scheme of symbolic struggles before him. It seems the men symbolize the nature of men, to strive, to risk, to fight, to plunder and to survive while women are an omnipresent and unmovable confounding force that seems to hold the whole incredible madness together. They are steady and practical, wise and un-shakeable. And when the men get too old to be in the fight, it appears they retire to the centered and quite place where women live at the heart.
This concludes what was required for the assignment, however I wanted to share the entry below:
One more thing…
For some more insight into why this movie means so much to me (besides the fact that it is a Coen Bros. movie of a Cormac McCarthy book which makes it awesome) I want to mention the overall aesthetic of the film. It is the visual backdrop of my life and childhood captured perfectly. And, as so many films and television programs that are shot in NM, the location becomes another character in the piece eventually becoming integral to the overall mood and identity of the work.
These are screen shots from the film, and photos I’ve taken randomly over the past 10 years or so when I’ve been home visiting our ranch.
Screen shot from NCFOM, rogerebert.com
My image taken on the road leading into our ranch.
Great prairie screenshot with windmill in the distance from
View from the front door of our ranch house in NM with windmill in the distance.
Dusk screenshot from NCFOM, rogerebert.com
Dusk at our ranch.
I could match every shot from the opening sequence of the film with photos from my own collection, which were taken randomly, and many of them before I ever saw the film. I chose just these few to share here, as that is enough to convey what I am trying to say.