Mise-En-Scene Analysis

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I struggled with this particular element so much that I needed a second pair of eyes to confirm that the dead man in the bathroom was the first thing you see. The dark room that takes up most of the shot is a strong contrast to the well lit bathroom containing the dead body which is the leftmost detail in the frame.

 2)Lighting Key

This shot contains a great deal of low-key lighting masking itself as available light. Chigurh’s (Javier Bardem; center) partially illuminated face appears to be lit by the overturned lamp. The lamp seems to be the only source of illumination for over three quarters of the shot asides from the overhead lighting in the bathroom. It helps to keep the shot dark in tune with the film’s mood and Chigurh’s character. The lighting also seems to draw your eyes to the results of the carnage: the body in the bathroom, the feet on the bed, and the blood on the walls–along with the killer himself.

 3)Shot and Camera Proxemics

This is a full wide shot as you can see Chigurh’s entire body along with a good portion of the room on his sides.


The angle is a low angle shot or arguably a moderate low angle shot. The camera is pointed from below the beds and appears to be looking up slightly at Chigurh.

 5)Color Values

The room is soaking in earth tones and black. We’ve got the yellowing of the bathroom along with the brown faux wood walls of the room. Chigurh, aside from his face, is almost fading into the shadows with this shades of black. The beds blankets are a muddy organge and even the sheets appear a dirty shade of yellow. The lights themselves appear dirty and off-white following into shades of yellow.


Used Master Prime and Macro Lens

Neither wide or telephoto lens were used. The high quality of the shot is achieved by Master Prime and Macro lenses by Roger Deakins to give the shot a photograph like quality. You can make out almost every single element in the shot which can also be attributed to the 35mm film stock to capture every detail even the darkness.

 7)Subsidiary Contrasts

The second thing your eyes go to is the lit half of the room, namily Chigurh’s left side (our right) as our eyes scan the room from left to right. While not nearly as powerfully lit as the bathroom, Chigurh’s dead center location of the shot with the dramatic lighting brings your eyes in. Since your eyes are on Chigur’s location and his partial lighting you are next drawn to the lamp and the bloody wall/pillows purely out of proximity to Chigurh along with the lighting choices.


The shot isn’t overly crowded but their is a lot going on with it. Everything is in focus and you can catch every little detail as your eyes wander over the scene. I would say it’s got moderate density as nothing seems packed tightly into each other.


The scene is shot with horizontal composition. Even though Chigurh is closer to the camera than the other figures everything is laid out in a nice straight line across the screen. The beds almost act as a horizon line.


This is without a doubt a closed shot. You get an entire story just from this particular still. You see a man with a gun, bodies, and various forms of resulting carnage.


The loose framing of the shot allows for the lone living person in the room to take a stroll around the scene if need be. The bathroom seems to have ample room to move even though a body is laid out in it’s center. To the right and left of Chigurh he also has a great area to move even though he supposedly in a cheap motel room and surrounded by four walls.


The depth of the shot is very much in deep focus. You can make out the broken mirror in the bathroom, the painting behind Chigurh, and the bed closest to the camera. Every element is extremely in focus.

 13)Character placement 

Chirgurh is placed dead center while the bodies are behind him and to the left.

 14)Staging Positions

Chigurh is facing the camera almost directly but isn’t looking right at us. His head is ever so slightly angled at a slight quarter turn to our right and slightly upwards. The lighting effect creates a bit of an optical illusion on his face which makes it seem as if his face is turned to the right more than it really is and more upwards. The body is at a quarter angle and can make out at least half of his face.

15)Character Proxemics

I’d say that the characters are somewhere between a public and social distance from each other. Chigurh is in a seperate room from one dead body but it seems even further away than it really is. The other body, as seen by his boots, is intimately close to Chigurh on the bed.




This shot is a powerful one displaying the violent aftermath of Anton Chigurh’s search.  Chigurh’s placement in the shot evokes an image of a conquering warrior sitting upon a throne with weapon in hand. Bodies, blood, disarray surround the man in the middle who sits defiantly around his work. Chigurh is an otherworldly figure in a film steeped in a believable world with serious consequences. This shot makes helps to bring the idea that Chigurh is something both unstoppable and abstract to this world through his placement, appearance, and lighting. Cloaked in darkness he almost becomes one with the room’s shadows or at least becomes one with the carnage around him.

If you were just to see this one shot and not the rest of the film you immediately identify the dark and violent of the story while recognizing the nature of Chigurh himself. It’s one of those shots that are able to relay feeling, mood, and a narrative through it’s careful construction. Darkness, light, and violence are key components to the inner ideas and aesthetics to the film No Country for Old Men. 


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Published on May 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm Comments (13)

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