Eric D. Snider

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‘No Country for Old Men’: Bell and Chigurh and the motel room

[NOTE: This post is about the film “No Country for Old Men” and is brimming with SPOILERS. Do not read this if you have not seen the movie.]

In a previous post, we talked about an element of “No Country for Old Men” that had led to misunderstandings. Now we address something where there truly are several possible explanations: Sheriff Bell and Anton Chigurh in the motel room. Were they there at the same time? What is the deal with that scene?

First, the events leading up to it. Bell arrives at the hotel just as the Mexicans are fleeing the scene. (They learned where Moss was by talking to his mother-in-law at the bus station, you’ll recall.) Bell sees numerous spent bullet shells next to the wall outside the swimming pool, where Moss was standing the last time we saw him; floating in the pool is, presumably, the woman he’d been talking to. Bell hurries to Moss’ hotel room, where a wounded Mexican is crawling away and where Moss lies dead just inside the door.

It would appear the Mexicans arrived while Moss was still talking to the pool girl. Moss was carrying his rifle (in a case), so he was able to return fire on the Mexicans before fleeing to his room. With one of their own having been hit, and with the money not sitting in plain sight, and with Moss fighting back, the Mexicans aborted their mission and took off.

Bell informs Moss’ wife of her husband’s death, then goes to the morgue, then has coffee with the local sheriff, who tells him the money was not in the hotel room. He guesses the Mexicans must have taken it, but Bell points out that they were speeding away pretty quickly.

During this time is when Anton Chigurh visits the hotel room. When Bell returns after having coffee, the lock has been blown off the door. He stops outside the door. We can see the reflection of something off the shininess of the blown-off lock, but it’s impossible to tell exactly what we’re seeing, whether it’s Bell’s own reflection or the reflection of someone inside the room.

The sequence of shots then proceeds like this:

– Bell looking at the lock.
– Another shot of the lock, from Bell’s POV.
– Chigurh, mostly in darkness, inside the room, in the corner behind the door.
– Bell outside the door, mustering the courage to enter. The look on his face is one of fear — not, in my estimation, the grown-up kind that adults have when facing difficult situations, but the kind that children have when they are truly terrified of something beyond their control. Bell is genuinely afraid.
– Chigurh again, same as before.
– The blown-out lock, this time from Chigurh’s POV. Light from outside is coming in through the hole.
– Bell again. He finally summons his courage.
– Bell unholstering his gun and cocking it.
– Bell carefully but deliberately pushing the door open.

The next shot is from inside the darkened room. The door swings open with a creak and quietly but noticeably strikes the wall. There is no one behind the door. The door has swung open too far for that to be possible, and while it is in mid-swing we can see there are no feet darkening the stream of light underneath it. Chigurh is not in the room.

Bell enters, looks around, notes that the bathroom window is locked from the inside, meaning no one escaped that way. He sees the grate removed from the vent and the dime — which we recognize as Chigurh’s calling card — on the floor. The money was hidden in the vent, and now Chigurh has taken it.

(I was surprised that anyone had questions about who wound up with the money. The movie is pretty straightforward on that point, even giving us the dime to confirm that Chigurh had opened the grate and taken it — not to mention the crisp $100 bill he pays the boy with later.)

So the question remains: What about those two shots of Chigurh standing behind the door? We must accept that when Bell opens the door, Chigurh is not behind it. It’s easy to miss this, to assume he’s hiding behind it the whole time Bell is in the room. But on looking at the DVD screener that Miramax sent, it’s quite evident that he’s not.

Could he have been behind the door and then, just before Bell opened it, moved to another hiding place, like maybe the closet? It’s possible, but unlikely. Chigurh is a careful, methodical killer. Why would he choose a hiding place and then, at the last split-second, suddenly change his mind?

I believe those shots of Chigurh behind the door exist only in Bell’s imagination. He knows Chigurh has been here and could very well still be here. He’s imagining having to confront him. That’s why he takes so long to summon his courage. When he finally does it, the way he pushes open the door is not exaggerated or forceful, but it is deliberate. Bell has worked himself up imagining Chigurh is standing behind it, and now he’s snapping back into reality.

It’s like scaring yourself into thinking a burglar is lurking in your closet, and while you know it’s probably not true, you make sure to open the door all the way anyway to prove it. Bell doesn’t look behind the door because he doesn’t have to. He heard it open all the way — and besides, he knew he was only imagining things anyway.

I think the purpose of that shot of the locked bathroom window is to confirm that Chigurh’s presence in the room was imagined. Without it, we might think he escaped just before Bell opened the door. With it, we realize he wasn’t here to begin with (or, rather, that he came and went before Bell arrived).

But the locked window also conveys another message. If Chigurh represents Bell’s fears, then in a sense he is still here, and Bell must confront him, metaphorically if not literally. Bell’s showdown is with his fears, and the film’s subsequent scenes indicate that he has decided he’s not up to the task anymore.

[NOTE: Before posting comments with additional questions or observations, please read these other posts — “The status of Moss”; “More ‘No Country for Old Men’ questions and answers” — to see if the issues have already been addressed.]

63 Responses to “‘No Country for Old Men’: Bell and Chigurh and the motel room”

  1. Raul Says:

    This reminds me of how Harry Potter fanatics used to get in huge arguments about Snape and if Hermionie would end up with Harry or Ron.

  2. mpb Says:

    This is my theory exactly. I haven’t read the discussion on your review thread, but that’s the view I’ve been advocating since the minute I came out of the movie. I’ve had to convince a lot of people that this was the case–some people who I normally think are very smart and very movie saavy didn’t even realize that this was a potential discontinuity in the plot. They just figured Chigurh was still behind the door and did not see any ambiguity whatsoever!

    And okay, in all honesty, I did not take it as far as your last paragraph. I kept saying to people that the Coen’s set this scene up as “purposefully ambiguous”, but I often find myself in the fallacious trap of admiring ambiguity for ambiguity’s sake and fail to close the gap towards some practical significance. Nice job!

  3. mpb Says:

    “Coens”. Sorry, I HATE the use of gratuitous apostrophe’s.

  4. Dave Says:

    Do we know for sure if Chigurh killed Moss’ wife? I wasn’t positive on that.

  5. Eric D. Snider Says:

    I believe the movie’s intent is to indicate that yes, he killed her. When he leaves her house he checks the bottom of his boot. It had been previously established that he was always careful to make sure blood didn’t get on his boots when he killed people.

  6. Kourtney Says:

    If Bell is imagining Chigurh in the motel room behind the door, it would follow that Chigurh’s tears during this scene are also imaginary, right? I mean, he didn’t even cry while sewing up his own thigh…a different kind of cry, but still…

  7. Q Tip Says:

    Another thing to consider:

    When Moss pulls up to the motel there are two doors that are roped off in the crime scene and both room doors seem to have their locks blown out by the pressurized cow-killer. You could argue that much like the coin flip Chigurh uses to decide the fate of his victims, Moss also “flipped the coin” of his own survival by choosing the room on the left while Chigurh may have actually been in the room on the right. The precedent was already set for Lewellyn to have two rooms in use to hide the money… and I personally like the 50/50 chance of life or death from Chigurh’s coin flipping manifested in another form.

    Just another thought.

  8. Q Tip Says:

    Correction for my previous post:

    I wrote the wrong name.. I was saying Moss when I meant Sheriff Bell.

  9. Native Minnow Says:

    I agree with your take. After seeing the movie, I couldn’t remember if the door hit the wall or not, but remember thinking that it did. The image you show, with an unbroken stream of light shining under the door confirms that Chigurh was not hiding behind the door when the Sherriff enters the room. I still need to see this movie again. Best movie of 2007, hands down.

  10. marie Says:

    I agree with Q Tip. I didn’t think that Chigurh was imaginary. There were two hotel rooms with locks blown out. I supposed that he was in the room next door, after it was confirmed that he was not in the room Bell entered. And I assumed that Sheriff Bell sensed that as well, but backed away and didn’t attempt anymore exploration, because he knew that he was just an old man, not up for the fight. It would tie in with the theme anyway.

    Anybody here read the book? Maybe that would help clarify things.

  11. Peter Fisher Says:

    My recollection of the air vent in the motel room where Llewelyn dies is that it wasn’t large enough to house the money bag.
    My first thought upon seeing this was that Chigurh opened the vent to see if the money was hidden there, but discovered that it wasn’t, and moved on.
    Perhaps Moss tried to hide the money there, and then realised it wasn’t gonna work and stashed it somewhere else, where it remains to this day (a la Fargo?)
    This would explain why Chigurh doesn’t walk away with the case when he limps off at the end…perhaps?

  12. Ray Says:

    Bad film-making, guys. We see the lock blown out, we know that Bell knows about the air-hammer-gun thingy. We know he has good reason to be scared s***less. Why mislead the moviegoer? You know what that is? That’s a ‘Black Cat’ — a fake scare.

  13. Hana Says:

    If Chigurh got the money, why did he go see Carla Jean and ask her for the money? He said he was only there to keep a promise he made to Moss. The promise being the one he made on the phone with Moss, saying if you don’t bring me the money then I will kill your wife. I’m not sure how Chigurh had the $100 bill at the end, but he didn’t walk away from the car accident with the case. (And I doubt he stopped by a bank and made a deposit or even went and hid the money.)

    Also, I think Chigurh was in the hotel room right next to the one Sheriff Bell entered. Chigurh is well aware of how Moss hid and took the money last time (two hotel rooms, through the vents) so he made it a point to check both rooms. I agree with Q Tip that this scene represents chance and fate. However, it isn’t a strong statement because frankly, if I were Bell, I’d have checked out the room that Moss died in too, and not the other room. Bell is just lucky that he came when he did — after Chigurh had already checked the first room (noted with the dime on the floor).

  14. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Hana, you’re misremembering. Chigurh does not ask Carla Jean for the money. She says, up front, “I ain’t got the money,” but he doesn’t ask her. She believes, incorrectly, that that’s why he’s there.

    The promise Chigurh made to Moss was: “You bring me the money and I’ll let her go. Otherwise, she’s accountable, same as you.” Moss does not bring Chigurh the money; thus, Chigurh must kill Carla Jean. It doesn’t matter that Chigurh got the money anyway, without Moss delivering it to him. The point is that Moss did not do as instructed, and therefore Chigurh keeps his word and kills Moss’ wife.

    For an explanation of why Chigurh was NOT in the room next to Moss’, see this blog entry.

  15. AmyB Says:

    Thanks! This is a very insightful take on that scene. I didn’t doubt that Chigurh was in the room until that damn door swung all the way open. I’m just wondering about it being in Bell’s imagination; is that a device that is setup elsewhere in the movie? I don’t remember.
    Best movie this year! I can’t stop thinking about it.

  16. Hb Says:

    Yea I’m still curious about the two-theory. When I saw the movie that’s what I thought to be happening: Bell outside one room anxious/scared and Chigurh inside the other room poised/waiting. It seemed like a film maker’s setup – kind of like a “coin flip” (as someone already noted) – “which door is he behind? door no. 1 or door no. 2?” – bring on the suspense. As far as Bell goes, yea I have to agree, the way he slumps and sits down on the bed is kind of like a forfeit / relief.
    But Chigurh, his expressions say something else to me, he seemed agitated and disappointed – he was even tearing up. I believe the money was no where to be found – he opened the vent to make sure (remembering that’s where Moss hid it last time) only to find a different kind of ventilation shaft – this vent was too small to fit that big case of money – it was a funnel like vent – small round pipe and a big opening
    kind of like: [ o ]
    I don’t know where he got the $100 bill from but when I saw the movie I was pretty sure the mexicans took the money and not Chigurh. Bell noting that they sped off pretty quickly could just mean ‘Yea we just killed a bunch of people and have a big loot on our hands – so lets speed the heck out of here’
    you know?

    I think that would make for a sicker twist of fate – None of the three; Moss, Bell or Chigurh got the money. The bad-a$$ Moss was shot dead, the heroic Bell cowered and retired and the unstoppable hellspawn Chigurh broke his arm in a car crash. Now that’s comedy.

  17. Planet Guy Says:

    One thing additional on the “confrontation” in the hotel room. The whole movie is about denying the expectations of the (Hollywood) audience. A protagonist dies. A bad guy largely escapes his just desserts. And finally the hoped for confrontation between the forces of Good (TLJ) and Evil (JB), just doesn’t happen. We think/hope it will. But nooooooooooooo.

  18. guess Says:

    Any chance Chigurh killed the sheriff in the motel room and everything we see of Bell after that is some kind of afterlife? He visits an old friend he hasn’t seen in ages, has a conversation about death, and then is “retired”. The closing scene seems to suggest he is already on that journey to death.

  19. Cow knocker Says:

    I believe Bell got the money. The whole movie was told in flashback. Bell was on the scene at the hotel before the local police arrived. Bell has moral dilemma but takes early retirement. His wife has not reached retirement age. Bell’s dreams tells that his father gave him some money and has led him on the proper path. To retire because this is no country for old men.

  20. Kim Says:

    Wow, I just finished watching the movie, Cow Knocker may have something here. I am so confused that is why I needed to read about “the ending”. Great movie, but lots of ending questions!

  21. Steve Says:

    “I was surprised that anyone had questions about who wound up with the money. The movie is pretty straightforward on that point, even giving us the dime to confirm that Chigurh had opened the grate and taken it ‚ÄĒ not to mention the crisp $100 bill he pays the boy with later.”

    I disagree . The duct appeared much to small to hold the size of the satchel that Mose was carrying. It was a small vent box transitioning to an 8″ diameter duct which would make you think that he looked there (knowing what he knew from before) and it wasn’t there this time. It wouldn’t be unusual for a high priced killer to have a $100 on him. It certainly told you he was there at one point, but did he get the money???

  22. Vicki Says:

    guess might have something. I thought maybe all scenes with Sheriff Bell after the return to the motel might have been earlier days before he went to El Paso. He was going to retire but didn’t after his wife says he’d better not stay and help clean. And the scene with his uncle (?) was also maybe days before when he was really troubled by the whole mess already. Does anyone see a flaw in this? Am I not remembering sometiing in those 2 scenes.

    I wondered right after the movie if while he was sitting on the bed, letting his guard down, not being up to all this off the charts action (being an old man), that the maniac killer just shoots him because he is in the room (although I think Bell would have checked it out totally). Or maybe he shoots Bell later as Bell is leaving the motel or coming into the other room?????

  23. Mot59 Says:

    He was there simply in the girls room not Llewelyn’s. I don’t remember seeing the keyway blown out in both rooms. Why didn’t they check her room?
    Maybe he checked for the money in the wrong room and to show that they showed his calling card. Maybe he dreamt Moss dying too. So many ways to view this and nothing was straight forward, period.

    I need to watch it again , then decide.

  24. John Says:

    Initially I thought the vent was too small to hold the satchel, but if you watch the scene again, you’ll notice on the close up that there are scrapes on the bottom of the vent, consistent with the scrapings Chugirh noticed when Moss initially put the case in the ventilation at the earlier motel. The vent in the El Paso motel was small, but possibly big enough for Moss to stuff it in there upright with some force, causing the legs of the case to gouge the steel in the vent. Also, why would the Mexicans leave the El Paso scene in such a hurry, with the numbers they had versus only Moss, especially after having killed him? Was Chugirh there at the time of the shootout as well? How did Carla Jean’s mother die? Alot of unanswered questions to a great movie.

  25. David Says:

    The vent looks small, but it appears just large enough to hold the money. I think without any further indication one would have to assume that Chigurh retrieved the money. Not to mention the 100 dollar bill at the end representing the money being in his hands. As for why he doesn’t wander off with the case at the end after the car crash, that scene is quite a ways in the future. It appears after Moss’ wife buries her mom who had cancer. Her mom wasn’t killed in any gunfights, so she would’ve died in the future. Chigurh would have had plenty of time to put the money away somewhere. He simply goes to kill Moss’ wife because he’s psychotic; and he definitely does kill her, simbolized by the checking of the boots as was mentioned previously.

  26. Ann Says:

    Just saw the movie last night and came here to read up on theories because I was somewhat unsure about the ending, as well. But after reading the above, I am starting to see things more clearly. That vent was definitely too small to hide any money in there. I think that The Coen brothers chose to show us this kind of vent that had an obstruction, along with the dime to make us realize that Chigurh checked the vent and realized that the money wasn’t there – couldn’t have been there – otherwise, they would have shown us a vent like the last one and that would have said – ohhh ok, so Chigur got the money this time! One thing I do want to mention, though, is when Moss was headed to his room, passing by the pool where he was talking to that lady, he didn’t have anything with him but the shotgun. I think he knew that he would be followed and wasn’t going to get away with staying alive, and if you all recall, he promised his wife he would send her the money to her. Now, how or when he did that or where he sent it, and whether he even had the chance to tell her where it was or when she would receive it, we don’t know. But, I think that Chigurh was behind the door and he moved and was still hiding in the darkened room – maybe in a closet or under the bed. I think the reason they showed us the lock on the window was to show us that Chigurh was still in the room, even as Bell let his guard down, and Chigurh made the decision to not come out of hiding and kill him. If you recall, in the scene right before the Sheriff walks into the room, we see a look that could be perceived as fear/disappointment on Chigurh’s face – the first time we see really any emotion. I think he knew that with Moss gone, and the money nowhere to be found, his search was all for naught, 1) he didn’t get the money and 2) he didn’t get the satisfaction of killing Moss himself as he promised. So, he went on to kill his wife, because he didn’t get the money and that was his last task on his crazy karmic list.

  27. Rebecca Says:

    That vent was too small for the satchel. No one got the money, which would be a typical ending to a Cormac McCarthy book. The movie isn’t told in flashback, Bell hasn’t arrived in the afterlife in that last scene with his wife. He retired not because he ended up with the money but because he had given up on being a lawman in a world where evil always wins.
    In the scene in the motel, Chigurh is not in the room in Bell’s imagination. McCarthy is too literal to rely on a device like that. I believe Chigurh must be in the next room, and this represents fate/chance as suggested by other posters.

  28. Joe Conlin Says:

    Look at the vent again when T Lee Jones is in the motel room. The satchel couldn’t have been in there because the vent has a metal round barrier thing in it, unlike the vents in the other motel room earlier in the film It could not have fit in there, so where was the money? maybe Lewellen tried to hide it in there and couldn’t.

  29. AM Says:

    Chigurh doesn’t exist. It isn’t about who gets the money. He is a metaphor for all that is evil in modern times. Evil for evil sake. More nebulous and inexplicable even that the Vietnam war madness.

    Consider the opening speech about ‘killing just for the need to kill’ and references to how things have changed between the two sheriffs. Consider how at the end the retired sheriff ‘wakes up’. Consider the use of the cattle killing device and how increasingly, modern murder takes on a cattle yard feel, picking off victims in bulk in a very detached way (firearms in high schools kind of thing).

    All of the scenes could have occured without Chigurh. The two groups of players could have been responsible for all the action. The evil of the situation killed Llewellyn’s wife, the ‘chance’ of the situation that led to her husband being involved. Remember he was quite greedy to take the money and refuse a dying man water.

    The scene in the final hotel room – Chigurh was there, just not visibly.

    Consider the final scene where Chigurh pays the young boys to ‘not see him’. Consider the scene in the high rise where he toys with a victim, the implication being if he wasn’t seen, the accountant would live.

    Not guns nor chance (car accident) can kill him because he doesn’t exist.

  30. Gladys W. Says:

    On one of the posts, Snider said that he was surprised that people were wondering who got the money in the end. He said that it was clear in the movie that Chigurh got it. I agree that the opened grate and he dollar bill might mean that Chigurh tok out the money that was in there, but then, why would the money be there in the first place? We are shown that Moss got out of the first motel room with the money and later threw it over the wire gate onto the river bank. How did the money end up there? Also, Moss didn’t come to the motel with any money which raises another question since he is supposed to give the money to his wife. The vent was also the wrong shape for the briefcase. I think I definitely need to watch it again…There is so many questions and the more I read people’s comments, some of my questions get answered but more are raised.

    Also, are these he people after the money?: Chigurh, the people who hired him and who he later killed, the Mexicans,

  31. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Gladys: You must have missed the scene where, after getting out of the hospital, Moss goes back to where he threw the money over the fence and retrieves it. It’s only a few seconds, but it’s there.

  32. Neil Says:

    Her’e another question. Did Chigurh get caught in the end. I see he wandered away, yet he was pretty messed up and an ambulance was on the way. Who is to say the boys would keep quiet? Could it be possible the ambulance drivers could persue someone just to make sure they are passing up medical attention? Wouldn’t police be on the way as well since it was a small town and most likely there would be more available officers to arrive to the scene.

  33. Brad Says:

    OK, I believe Chigurh was in the next room, not in Bell’s imagination. And I believe he was there because he didn’t find the money in the first vent so he was still looking for it. And I believe when he gave the kid the $100 bill for the shirt it was shown to prove that he does indeed end up with the money. But my theory is that the mexicans got it at the motel before fleeing. I believe the mother dying is the key – it was to show that some time had passed from the motel scene until he arrived at her house. It may have only been a few days but enough for him to have tracked down the mexicans to retrieve the money and then stash the majority somewhere (hence him not having the bag with him when the wreck occurs) before heading to finish the deal he made by killing her.

  34. Gladys W. Says:

    Did Moss really retrieve the money? I must have missed that crucial one then…didn’t even remember anything of the sort…thanks for the clarification! watching the movie again..

  35. poppyseed Says:

    Hi am I the only one here who thinks it was totally ludicrous to think that Moss would have returned to the drug deal gone bad scene, to deliver water to the guy that was most likely going to be dead before he got there????

  36. Chandani Says:

    My theory is that Chighur LOOKED in the vent, but didn’t find the money – it wasn’t large enough to house the satchel. I think the Mexicans got it, which is why they were shooting their way out of the crime scene – they would shoot anyone who came near their vehicle because they HAD the money (maybe Moss hid it elsewhere in the room). Whether Chighur was REALLY in the room or not – I go for the “all in Sheriff Bell’s imagination” – Chighur HAD been there, but left. The mother? – she died later, of “the cancer” – remember her complaining about having “the cancer”. Chighur killed the wife because her husband tried to save the money rather than his wife’s life – he had to make that point; he had to win – it was in his psychopathic makeup.

    Another theory is that perhaps Sheriff Bell DID somehow get the money and knew that Chighur KNEW he had the money – which is why he wanted to know what TIME of day/night did his father die. He was afraid of his own death – which is why he imagined Chighur behind the door – it was the reason for his “dreams” too – the money his father “lose” was metaphorical for Sheriff Bell having FOUND the money. But he also knew he would have to “pay” (with his life) for double-crossing Chighur, so he saw his father “lighting the way” to his death

  37. Chandani Says:

    One of my BIGGEST questions is how did Moss know FOR SURE there was $2 million dollars – he couldn’t have counted it or he would have found the transponder earlier – no?

    I don’t think Bell could have possibly made any “deal” with Chighur (for the money) – remember the conversation in hospital “No, you DON’T understand – he doesn’t make DEALS”.

    I’m more confused now than when I started trying to analyze this film!!

  38. mike0 Says:

    My theory is that Bell and Chighur were working together. They split the money and that is why Bell could retire. Chighur was the type of person that would not work on his own, but may have struck a deal with the Sheriff who saw his chance to get out.

  39. JohnH Says:

    The El Paso motel room scene possesses great ambiguity, yet we know instinctively that it has great significance, that in it lies the “key” to the film. That’s why it has spawned much speculation, some entirely wild and totally unsubstantiated elsewhere in the film, i.e., that Sheriff Bell took the money earlier, that Bell and Chigurh were working together, that Chigurh may have been chased down by ambulance drivers. Come on. If the Coen Brothers had intended any of these wild, unsubstantiated possibilities, they would be bad film makers indeed. They’re not. Outcomes must be the inexorable result of prior events and the actions of the characters must be consistent with their character as revealed earlier. What happens must result from the internal logic of the film or it is a bad film. Questions like “Could the money fit in the vent?” are interesting but entirely trivial. Is it really important whether the money was in the vent or whether Chigurh got it from there or at all? Not at all. This is not a caper movie. It’s a movie about living in a world full of unpredictable danger, a world where “you can’t see what’s coming next,” as the girl at the swimming pool tells Llewelyn right before they are both killed. As some have pointed out, Chigurh is like the living embodiment of this. He is like God or the Grim Reaper. And Sheriff Bell goes back to the room that night for only one reason–to confront Chigurh. He suspects he’s there because right before that scene the local lawman reminds him that Chigurh has gone back to the scene of the crime before.

    What is important to ask is what makes Tommy Lee Jones so despairing at the end? What makes him quit sheriffing? What makes him visit his uncle who he hasn’t seen in a long time and question him about what he would do if he encountered the man who shot him and talk of his disappointment in not finding God? What makes him dream of death at the end? Sheriff Bell has undergone an enormous emotional/spiritual change. He can no longer go on. What caused this?

    There are too possible theories. For the sake of my argument, assume that Chigurh is in the room when Sheriff Bell enters. The Coen brothers have gone to great pains to show us he’s in there and that he didn’t exit from the window. Chigurh hides under the bed or in the closet but doesn’t emerge while Bell is there. Sheriff Bell leaves and the change that comes over him is merely because he finally has grown weary of the country that has become no place for old men, a world he no longer understands and no longer wants to be part of. We know that Chigurh is in the room hiding and he is lucky that he didn’t kill him, but Sheriff Bell doesn’t know that. It is a tense scene but otherwise hasn’t much significance. It is a scene where something big almost happens but doesn’t.

    But I think there is more depth there. I think the coin we see at the end of the scene is a clue. The camera stays on the coin for a long time–three seconds–before the scene ends. Why is it there? It’s not there to show us Chigurh had been there. We and Sheriff Bell already know he was there because the lock was blown out by his bolt gun. We but not Sheriff Bell know he is still there because we saw him in two separate shots and we know the window is locked. What if the coin is there to remind us of the God-like choice he foisted on the store clerk earlier in the film and does later on to Carla Jean? Think about Chigurh’s character. When elsewhere in the movie has Chigurh hid from anyone? Why should he suddenly do so here? He’s God, the Grim Reaper. He has no fear. It doesn’t make sense.

    The interpretation that works best for me, that answers all the questions I’ve asked above is that after Sheriff Bell holsters his pistol and sits on the bed, Chigurh emerges from the closet or from under the bed and has the drop on him. Like he has done before and will do again, Chigurh makes Bell call the coin toss. He is lucky and Chigurh lets him go. But he is shaken by his so close encounter with sure death and feels weak and helpless. He also feels ashamed because of his cowardice in submitting to Chigurh’s test. (Only Carla Jean shows the courage to defy him and refuse to play his game.) That’s why he no longer feels up to the job and quits. That’s why he feels “overmatched.” That’s why he tells his uncle he thinks God has a low opinion of him. That’s why he asks him what he would do if he encountered the guy who shot and paralyzed him. That’s why he dreams of death at the end.

  40. AJ Says:

    Does anyone know what motel was used in the film at El Paso. Was it on Alameda Ave?

  41. Mike Bravo Says:

    Chigurh and Bell is/are the same man…

  42. J$ Says:

    Bell ends up with the money. The money was in the vent. There are two areas where the dust is parted which we know from earlier scenes is the sign the money bag was there. When Bell is having coffee with the other police guy he gets afraid at the descriptions of Chigurh’s crimes, after coffee he is in a rush to recheck the crime scene to see if the evilness will now follow him, since he now has the money. He sees the locks blown out and knows that Chigurh has been there. He checks the place and sits on the bed, he then sees the vent opened and knows that Chigurh’s knows that the money had been there, he then knows that he may figure out that Carla Jean had called him. This is why he puts his head in his hands. When visiting his uncle after all this there is a comment by the uncle in the conversation just after the “how many cats do you have ..” thing where he says out of context – “I got it safe”. I think the uncle is leery about Bell retiring because people may wonder where he got the money (since his wife still needs to work). God did not come into his life because he stole the money. He asks the uncle if he would shoot the guy that put him in the wheelchair to see if he would want revenge. Bell sees taking this money as revenge for the cruel world that has been created for old men and wants to justify it. The dream was him trying to deal with why he took the money.

  43. MW Says:

    I just watched it for the first time. I think J$, above, might be right.

    Sherrif Moss’s description of his dream, not being able to sleep, always beeing on the run, etc. seems to indicate the paranoia of having the money and knowing he’ll be hunted for it. That and his retirement.

    Then there’s always the chance that the lady at the motel took it before anyone arrived. “You know where beer leads…”

  44. Anton Sugar Says:

    In my opinion, I think Uhaul missed it. Sheriff Bell is dead at the moment he steps over that pool of blood in the final motel scene. Notice the sort of slow motion way Tommy Lee Jones (TLJ) steps over the pool its not footage that slowed down itís him stepping slowly, itís a man taking the last step of his life, everything after that point is a dream sequence. This technique was also used in the last sopranoís episode. In the sopranos the entire show is always from Tony Sopranos POV, he is the protagonist, once he opens that door to the diner and sees himself eating at the diner, he is toast we never see him get shot like so many of the other characters in the show. TLJ is the protagonist; Anton is obviously the antagonist, his named even sounds like the word antagonist, maybe even Anton the atheist. Listen carefully to the words TLJ uses in his monologue at the beginning about pushing in all his chips and putting up his soul and being part of this world, it could be that the whole movie is his explanation to god. Like the movie [THOUGHTLESS SPOILER DELETED; COMMENTER RIDICULED], character is dead the entire movie is a dream sequence. But for sure Sheriff Bell is dead the moment he steps over that blood it just isnít shown to us in the traditional manner, ask yourselves would Anton stand quietly in a room with a man walking a around with a chambered weapon with the hammer back, No. As far as where the money is maybe the Mexicans sped off with it, maybe Anton has it, Iíve heard of stories of people doing renovations on buildings and houses and tearing out a wall and finding a ton of cash stuffed inside of it, hidden for years. When TLJ is talking to his wife at the table in the end look closely at the pleasant smile she has on her face, talking about his father going ahead and making a fire for him and a dream about losing money. Listen to the words with his uncle about ďthings have always been this way; and it aint all waiting on you; and about this country being hard on people; about vanity and about getting a letter from his wife about family news; about while your trying to trying to get things back and mores going out the door; about god never coming into his life and not blaming him.Ē I suggest you turn the subtitles on and pay attention and read between the lines.

  45. scott tuke Says:

    OK, here’s the deal; After reading the novel, I saw the movie twice. The other night, I watched it a third time and saw some things I hadn’t seen before. I think Chigurh was behind the door of the same room Bell entered. He looked to be “wedged” in the corner and if he was in the adjacent room, he wouldn’t be “wedged” in the corner. I think when the door swung open, Anton stopped it with his gun, thus the slamming opening sound. The biggest thing that I noticed was that when Bell opened the door, his shadows are cast on the wall of the room from his car headlights…along with his shadow is the shadow of the POLICE LINE. DO NOT CROSS tape in which Bell ducked under to get to the room. After Bell checks out the bathroom, he returns to the main room and the shadow of the tape is GONE! This means that Anton was in the room and when Bell went into the bathroom, Anton escaped the room and broke the tape as he ran into the parking lot and away. It is obvious that Anton got the money because of the “drag marks” in the vent above the screws and the dime he used to remove the grate. Where Anton stashed the money is anyone’s guess. I think Anton came back to the room at night AFTER the Mexicans killed Moss in a failed attempt to get the money from him (it was in the vent). If you argue that the case was too big to fit in the vent, you could also argue that Moss stashed the money somewhere else completely…this we will never know. However, the fact that

  46. scott tuke Says:

    SEE ABOVE…Anton gave the kid $100 bill tells the viewer, plain as day, that he had the money and perhaps didn’t have it all on his person. The part that bothers me about the film is the significance of Bell’s dream at the very end…But, back to the room. The reflection in the blown out lock from Bell’s perspective had the exact “movement” that Chigurh had in his closeup. The only part that confuses me is Anton’s “perspective” of the lock (the one with Bell’s reflection) is not from Anton’s “point of view”, but from an angle from the handle side of the door, opposite Anton’s theoretical “point of view”. Anyway, sorry I am all over the place with this…my computer SENT before I was finished…hopefully it makes sense.

  47. Tim Says:

    Did anyone ever consider the idea of Anton Chigurh not existing?

    There are several clues indicating that direction:

    When he walks into the office of the presumable organisor of the drug deal and kills the man (” he gave a receiver to the Mexicans”), there’s a client still in the office.
    Client: “Are you going to shoot me?”
    Anton: “That depends. Do you see me”

    This insinuates that Anton is only real if you believe he’s real. The client is obviously afraid of him, but it might just be a general fear that everyone experiences sometimes. Anton is just the symbol of something that people might fear.
    We move on:

    After the Mexicans shot Moss, Bell and his colleague (Roscoe) talk while saying goodbye (when Bell is stepping into the car). (I searched for the transcript and found it here:

    He is just a goddamn homicidal lunatic,
    Ed Tom.

    I’m not sure he’s a lunatic.

    Well what would you call him.

    I don’t know. Sometimes I think he’s
    pretty much a ghost.

    He’s real all right.

    Oh yes.

    All that at the Eagle Motel. It’s be-
    yond everything.

    Yes, he has some hard bark on him.

    That don’t hardly say it. He shoots
    the desk clerk one day, and walks right
    back in the next and shoots a retired
    army colonel.


    They have reached Sheriff Bell’s cruiser and he sits in.

    Hard to believe.

    Strolls right back into a crime scene.
    Who would do such a thing? How do you
    defend against it?

    So here’s another indication that he might not be real.
    Also, look at the very last line: how do you defend against IT? => they acknowledge that he might not be a person, another indication the Anton represents SOMETHING.

    Now I’m not really a great hypothese-builder, but watching the movie a second time made me consider the idea. It might just lead up to what the author of the original post said about the bathroom window: Anton represents (Bell’s) fear.

  48. Mike Says:

    I think that when he goes and kills Moss’ wife it is month’s later. Remember, it was the day she buried her mom, not her husband. Her mom had talked about having cancer. This may be weeks or even months in the future. The $100 therefore does not indicate whether or not Anton got the money.

  49. Ryan Says:

    To everyone unsure about whether Anton gets the money or not the answer is definitively “Yes.” I’m not going to use theories to prove it because it’s shown in the book. There is a scene where Anton goes to the man who is due the money, the “Client” and they negotiate some. Anton tells about his expenses, and eventually tells the man “we’re going to do business together.” As in Anton will be working for him as a bounty hunter. They don’t include this in the film, instead leading you to believe he had it by showing the dime on the floor in the motel next to the vent covering when Bell walks in. There are other scenes not shown either, like one where Llewelyn picks up an 18 yr old girl hitchhiking and lets her drive so he can rest. Everyone asks “where did Anton get the $100 bill from?” at the end. Well he got paid when he brought the money to the client. There’s your answer, pick up the book and anything by McCarthy, he is a genius. His novel after No Country, called “The Road” is being made into a movie releasing this year with Viggo Mortensen starring and there will be just as much discussion on that as No Country. So be ready!

  50. Gnome Says:

    Eric- Having read the book, I’m with you on the explanations. The only inconsistency I have in the explantion above is this: The bullet casings where Moss was standing while talking to the girl don’t appear to come from what he had in his rifle/shotgun case, but rather from an automatic weapon consistent with what the injured Mexican had laying next to him. It looks like a shotgun shell casing is next to Moss’s dead body, so I’m thinking Moss had a shotgun in his rifle bag. So, my guess is Moss may have been standing talking to the girl at pool, like you say, but he takes off toward his room when the truck pulls in the parking lot. He didn’t have time to take his weapon out of the bag while standing there. The truck then stops where he was standing and one of the Mexicans shoots the girl from roughly the spot where Moss was standing. It is on the way in. A shootout ensues with Moss at the front area of his room. He gets one, gets hit, and they retreat, again like you said. That is my story.

  51. Phil Says:

    I do not know the correct answer to the motel room scene but I know what is wrong! Here is a list.
    Of course sugar exists! Otherwise the movie is an entire metaphor dream like thing where everyone killed in it didn’t really exist and then just nothing exists and the whole plot is pointless, that’s just stupid and no one would make a movie like that, movies always have to have a grounding in real life if they include symbolism.

    I do not believe Sugar is in the motel room, there’s just no where to hide! And Sugar would NEVER hide anyway, he killed the cop at the start without hesitation or without offering him a coin toss. There’s no way he would sit down with him and offer him the coin toss, you’re starting to make things up in your head now. If it happened it would have been included, we aren’t that psychic. He couldn’t have ran out when he was in the bathroom as you would have heard him and where would he have been hiding to run out quickly? Have you ever stayed in a bare bone motel room like that?

    There’s also no way the cop got the money or died. He never got the money as it’s not his character to steal, he is the honest old school type it’s clearly shown, and also he is the narrator and narrators never intervene with actions within a movie and effect anything. He also didn’t die as the movie is keen to show each distinct character or force. Good, Bad, Neutral. Each would have a different ending, not 2 dead. It would be fair to say good dies (mainly because of his greedy choices (money taking at start and money over wife at end, or because of his compassion- if he had turned evil and not gone back to give water he would have lived), bad lives (but is shaken in his beliefs when hit by car) and neutral gives up and realizes the eternal fight between good and evil is not for mortals to interfere with.

    Don’t know who got the money, pretty sure it’s Sugar or there would be no point to the $100 note (remember when making a film, everything you put in front of the camera is for a reason, not just to take up minutes). It’s not the point anyway.

    So that leaves the hotel room was either all in his head, facing his fear, or he was next door. Both have actual meaning to he story unlike the other ideas. The 1st means he realized he was too scared to face modern crime and hung up his guns and realized he was the title of the film, the 2nd is the fate door number 1 or number 2. But since the TITLE of the movie is no country for old men, I guess it was meant to be Number 1.

  52. Phil Says:

    Another thing to dismiss that he was hiding in the room is this massively obvious evidence. I thought of how easy and obvious it would be to dismiss he was in the room this way but didn’t have the dvd to watch it again to prove which side he was on. The door on 114 is the mirror image of 112. If you were to enter room 114, as Bell does, the door would swing open to your right. Opening room 112, the door would swing open to your left. So he couldn’t have been behind the door of the same room as the door opens the other way! One hypothesis down.

  53. Nate_C Says:

    After exploring this issue and thinking about it over and over again, I am almost 100% certain that Sheriff Bell is killed by Chigurh in the El Paso motel. I think Bell knows Chigurh is probably there and that is why he goes back.

    During his conversation just prior to him going back to the El Paso motel, Bell and the local sheriff, Roscoe Giddins, finish their coffee shop conversation discussing Chigurh going back to the Eagle Hotel to kill Carson Wells the day after he killed the desk clerk.

    The last thing Roscoe says to Bell is: “Strolls right back into a crime scene. Who would do such a thing? How do you defend against it?”

    As Bell is sitting and thinking in his cruiser, I think he makes the decision to go back to the El Paso motel believing Chigurh will be there.

    This is Bell’s heroic moment or his moment of him acting upon his principles. Think back to this foreshadowing narration:

    “I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job – not to be glorious. But I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet some-thing I don’t understand.”

    The entire movie Bell has been trying to “understand” Chigurh or understand what he is up against and at this point I think he thinks he is ready to confront him, to “push his chips forward” so to speak.

    If Bell didn’t think Chigurh would be at the El Paso motel, why would Bell cut the engine of his cruiser in the parking lot of the motel and why would Bell close his door very quietly with both hands.

    In going back to the motel, Bell is unceremoniously killed. In fact, it is so unceremonious that it is not even shown (just like Carla Jean and Llewelyn).

    The more I think about that fact, the more I like the movie, because in every other film, the antagonist is killed in some final, drawn-out battle. And in a lot of instances, when the viewer thinks the antagonist is dead, he suddenly appears again, only to be “killed again.”

    The Coen brothers not only buck conventional movie-making, but completely throw it on its head by having Bell killed by Chigurh but not even letting the audience know Bell has been killed; making the audience figure it out on their own. The Coen brothers are basically saying that death sometimes makes no sense and it happens in the blink of an eye.

    For example, have you ever watched movie where the bad guy has the good guy in his grasp or his sights, but something miraculous happens allowing the good guy to escape and then kill the bad guy? And, do you ever think how stupid and insulting that is and why didn’t the bad guy just shoot the good guy without saying anything and without some drawn-out dramatic dialogue?

    That is why I love NCFOM. It shows that death sometimes makes no sense and it happens just like that (snap of the fingers).

    Now, back to the question of whether or not Bell is killed by Chigurh in the motel. Think of how an intangible object or thing like a “bed” or “bedroom” is portrayed throughout the movie along with the action of “sitting.”

    Bell is in the main room of the motel (dark), he then filps the light on in the bathroom (light), and when he goes back into the main room (dark), what does he do? He sits “heavily” on the bed. Him sitting heavily on the bed means that HE IS DEAD!!!

    Where is Carla Jean when she dies? She goes into her bedroom and says after a brief conversation with Chigurh, “I need to sit down.” How does Chigurh respond, he nods at the bed and Carla Jean sits down (though not on the bed).

    Where does Carson Wells die. Chigurh makes Wells go back to his hotel room. Both are sitting in chairs in his bedroom when Chigurh shoots Wells. Chigurh thens puts his feet on the bed to answer the phone.

    And then there is the story Bell tells his deputy about the couple in California who were “renting rooms” to elderly couples and then killing them. Again, death and bedrooms.

    One of the three Mexicans is killed while lying in bed and all three are killed in a motel room.

    Earlier in the movie, Bell stops a flatbed truck and has a conversation about the tie-downs coming loose. What is in the “bed” of the pick-up? Dead bodies. When Bell asks about the man why he didn’t use the van instead, the movie is making a point about beds and being dead. Otherwise, what is the point of that scene?

    Then, think of probably the the most memorable scene of the movie where Chigurh is having a conversation with the gas station proprietor. Out of nowhere, Chigurh asks the proprietor “What time do you go to bed?” Caught off guard, the proprietor answers “9:30” and Chigurh says “I could come back then” meaning that that is when the proprietor is going to die. Instead Chigurh utilitizes the coin-flip.

    Think also of the scene where Bell goes to see his uncle Ellis. Their conversation at the beginning of that scene is as follows:

    How’d you know I was here.

    Who else’d be in your truck.

    You heard it?

    How’s that?

    You heard my – you havin fun with me?

    What give you that idea. I seen one of the cats heard it.

    But – how’d you know it was mine?

    I deduced it. Once you walked in.

    This is a strange conversation. I too think Ellis is dead and he just knows Bell is coming to visit without resorting to any sensory perception that Bell is on his way.

    Then this:

    Got a letter from your wife. She writes pretty regular, tells me the family news.

    Didn’t know there was any.

    She just told me you was quittin. Sit down.

    Boom!!! That last part, the family news is that Bell has quit (retired), in other owords Bell has died, and then Ellis immediately tells him to “sit down.” Being retired is “being dead” in the movie. Llewelyn is a “retired” welder, Carla Jean is “retied” from Wal-Mart, and Carson Wells is a “retired” Army colonel. The entire movie is leading up to Bell’s retirement.

    The last conversation between Bell and his wife goes like this:

    Maybe I’ll go ridin.


    What do you think.

    I can’t plan your day.

    I mean, would you care to join me.

    Lord no. I’m not retired.

  54. FrankFM Says:

    I felt intuitively that the Sheriff took the money. He interrupted Chigurh.. and his only reason for going back, alone, was because he suspected the money might be there. The scenes that follow suggest the Sheriff is now almost morbidly obsessed with his own death: he sees it coming in the person of Chigurh, and feels guilt for having taken the money.. I don’t feel that he was overmatched in any sense, by Chigurh, until he succumbed to the allure of the money. I think Tommy Lee Jones did a wonderful job of portraying a man who is preparing for death. The beautiful dream he recounts – with his father going before him, carrying fire.. was a perfect ending. In the end, darkness.

  55. David B Says:

    one comment made is that Chigurh has the money because of the tell-tale dime and teh removed air vent. But look at the air vent – it’s round just inside the square opening – not big enough to hide the case with the $2M. So – one theory would be that Chigurh looked, but the money was not there. The only other idea I had was that the money was no longer in the large case – although the case was filled with the money – so one would assume it would have to be a bag about the same size – which would not fit into that small square vent opening that turns to a 4-6″ round pipe about 4-6″ into the vent.

    So…I think it IS still very unclear who got the money.

  56. David B Says:

    …Isn’t it just as plausible that the Mexicans did get the money – assuming they shot Moss in the hotel room?

    The bag was too big to fit in the vent – Didn’t Moss have it on him when talking to the “beer girl” at the pool?

    Anyway, they would have been in a rush to leave – but it seems equally plausible tjhat they nabbe dthe bag and ran as Chigurh finding it later.

  57. Rocky Says:

    well, maybe a bit late, but anyway (having seen it just a few days ago). IMO there is nothing important unclear in the end – all was served straight and outright: the Mexicans got the money after shooting Moss who was just walking back to his room having spent a word with girl at the pool (and carrying the satchel). their escape came a few seconds after the shots (we heard them) – it means they were successful in finding and taking money. Chigurh must have been hiding behind the door of the second room when Bell came to the scene in the evening. Eric mentioned it could not be this way because of the hole in the door that could be seen on the left from his POV. but note – the yellow mark that we can see when watching Chigurh hiding is not the hole but the light on the wall (coming from the hole on his right). we can also see the vent cover down – this only shows Chigurh was looking for the money…he was not present when Moss was killed, so he could not be sure if Mexicans got the money. however, I also think, Chigurh’s next step was hunting the Mexicans, maybe he got them and the satchel in the end, but that is not important for the story.

  58. Dirty Harry Says:

    If you look on the floor a coin a dime is there, it is heads up Chigurh let him live.
    call it

  59. Holden Says:

    This is a film with multiple endings. However, I don’t think Chigurh killed Bell. It just doesn’t make any sense for me. I’m not sure they had any reason to kill each other. Their mutuality are something odd and respectful… as they are part of each other.
    I love everything about this movie, except Bell’s thoughts about after life… that he will see his father in heaven. That’s the part I don’t like.

  60. DetroitTassinNorCal Says:

    While admitting it’s late and didn’t read ALL the posts; Loved the twists you all speculated on (some, like the Chigurh in the other room, then disproved, owing to the mirrored neighboring doors). Here’s what my initial instinct (first view) was, and I think may still hold up as possible, while not having read the book yet, and having seen the flick for a second time just last night (May 25, 2012):

    Chigurh, while obviously human and a sociopath (principaled though he be, atheist though he may be in the book), may be intended by the film makers as symbolic, as well, of the darker forces that be, and the whole “how did he get out of there” scene (of the hotel room) left ambiguous/double meaning intentionally.

    If you recall, Moss spies a BLACK DOG, yes, limping (later, it is easy to imagine it took a bullet, survived the mayhem) in the desert, and THE DEVIL is, traditionally, said to sometimes take the form of such.

    The dying mexican in the truck speaks of a door (double meaning could be portal), and wolves. Yes, on the one hand, close the door, I don’t want to be eaten alive come nightfall, but WOLVES? Coyotes, maybe (though Bell later answers his deputy’s question of “Why do you suppose the coyotes haven’t eaten the bodies?” by saying something along the lines of old wives tale, “Coyotes aren’t supposed to eat mexicans”. But IF there was some true evil alluded to, maybe even the coyotes wouldn’t touch the bodies.

    Stay with me/humor me here. You all have helped one another arrive at the fact Anton WAS NOT IN THE OTHER ROOM (mirrored doors, wrong swing to the wall, nobody behind, etc.), and besides, scared as Bell was, do you really think he’d cop a rest on the bed, not check the other room first? Also, there are the matters of the TWO SHADOWS, as Bell enters, then just the one. And the earlier reflection of himself in the t.v. while drinking milk scene. AND the initial, black cloud rolling over the landscape scene, while Moss is hunting, foreshadowing the evil to come (pre black dog?).

    Yes, Bell is an old man, and Chigurh a socio…a real person…but maybe the dualism, the UNSTOPPABLE WAVE of badness that has seemingly infected the entire U.S. landscape, (like a black shadow, since “Sir and Maam stopped”, the “dismal tide”…the torturing and killing of senior citizens for their soc. sec. chks), is what the whole “HOW DID HE GET OUT THE ROOM” thing is about. Window WAS locked, VENT too small for anyone but a ghost, exactly what Bell calls him to his buddy sherriff, just before said buddy says, “what kind of guy goes back to the scene of the crime?”. This is why Bell goes back, I think…maybe he’ll get “lucky”. Yes, he is relieved…MAYBE Anton is is his mind, but then WHY SHOW THE LOCKED WINDOW? I think, myself, MAYBE, to make you feel this evil incarnate, can’t even kill him in a car crash character is ALSO meant to represent what the crippled Uncle/brother sheriff Bell visits says–You can’t stop whats coming…it all aint meant for you…thats just vanity.

    Lastly, Just saw McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses”, as well. In the end (film) of THAT one, Damon narrates (SPOILER ALERT) how some people wonder if God is real…(and earlier, in prison, a nemesis chides all those who believe as much, “God is not here”)…and says, “I think he must be, or else how would any of us get through even one day?”

    Made me think McCarthy must be Catholic or something, his two film made novels heavy on Good and Evil, these two I have seen. As to the Money, didn’t Moss say

  61. DetroitTassinNorCal Says:

    Sorry, the post had a ghost–just left and posted on its own, before I was done…”As to the money, didn’t Moss say to his wife”, I was gonna finish, “I’m sending you the money”, i.e. he’d decided **** Chigurh/Sugar as he called him earlier, he wasn’t doing nothing but meeting him at the O.K. corral. So, if she later sees Anton, you gotta believe she’d give THAT up in order to save her skin (Anton leaves, no case, no money…checking his soles for blood, i.e. he killed her alright, but she didn’t have the dough). SO…maybe the money is STILL IN THE MAIL??? IF the Mexicans didn’t get it (did someone disprove that option yet?

  62. C K Says:

    I know this discussion is over three years old but 2 theories:
    1.) I agree with the theory of there being two hotel room and Chigurh being in the second room (the one next to the one Tom Bell enters) and hiding behind the door while Tom Bell searches the other room. One reason for this is that it keeps with the world view (or at least Chigurhs world view that life is like a flip of the coin, heads you live, tails you die. And Tom Bell entering the room that does not contain Chigurh is this world view playing out. The only hole in that theory is that from Tom Bells perspective there is no reason he would enter the other room and bc he clearly enters the room the Moss was killed in (evidence of the blood stain) and would have no reason to enter the other room.
    2.) The second theory is that the image of Chigurh behind the door is from earlier (or also as you have stated Tom Bells imagination-although in my theory it could be his imagination of what Moss encountered.) But I wonder if the image of him behind the door is from when Moss encountered him. There is no evidence that the Mexicans rolled up in him during his discussion with the pool lady. Although there is some evidence that he took her up on the offer and drank beer with her-and then was encountered. I wonder though if the reason that the Mexicans cut out was because of Chigurh and not Moss returning fire. Either way you provide a great write up on the movie, well done.

  63. C K Says:

    After some thought and research there are a couple pertinent facts:
    In the Book by C.McCarthy Chigurh is still at the Motel when Tom Bell returns, Secondly when Tom Bell goes into the bathroom we notice that the light (which he switches on) also activates the bathrooms fan-which is noisy.
    With those two points in mind it seems plausible that Chigurh is hiding (in the room but not behind the door) when Tom Bell enters and then slips when the Sheriff is in the bathroom.
    Finally in terms of Chigurhs figure being symbolic to represent either Tom Bells fear or also Tom Bells contention that Chigurh is like a ghost (“sometimes I think he’s a ghost”) it’s also important to remember that when Moss shoots Chigurgh in their first encounter (after Moss jumps out the window and crashes the pick-up truck and then wounds Chigurh when he is hiding behind the car) that even in that encounter Moss is surprised to find the Chigurh is NOT hiding behind the car and has mysteriously “disappeared” presumably down the alley.
    It seems obvious that no matter which theory you subscribe to the important fact is that it doesnt matter-its meant to be ambiguous and meant to leave the viewer with the complex decision-or rather the understanding that there are more important themes than who got the money in the end. Clearly that linear thought is not as important as what does it all mean.

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