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Posts Tagged ‘No Country for Old Men’

I’m writing a screenplay with one psuedo-sociopath, and I had some time to peruse Barnes and Noble before volunteering today. A psychology book, The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, caught my eye. I read the first couple of chapters, and naturally I started thinking about famous sociopaths in film and the structures that deliver their inhumane stories to audiences.

Showtime’s ‘Dexter’ popped up because I’m making my way through season 2. To me, part of the magic behind its writing is the main character’s internal monologues that narrate the action. Being inside of a sociopath’s mind helps us imagine the unimaginable. See, Dr. Stout says that the state of pure guiltlessness is unimaginable by people with consciences. This is exactly why I think we’d be drawn to these characters – and ultimately why we’d prefer a story where we hear the character’s thoughts.

Now another sociopath popped up in my head: Javier Bardem’s Chigurh from ‘No Country for Old Men.’ Now the Coen bros’ script definitely has no internal monologues. We don’t get to hear his thoughts, and it still worked. We still got that Chigurh, at least after seeing him kill a random driver, doesn’t feel guilt for killing. Then he explains it later, I think. I’m not sure; it’s a long movie.

So both obviously worked, but which one’s better? I’m going to go with ‘Dexter.’ I love seeing the character Dexter in normal situations and hearing his sociopathic thoughts. Though, word of caution, it makes him more humane than Chigurh (despite him killing someone every episode.) That’s because internal monologues offer justification and internal conflict – things we can relate to – whereas Chigurh’s guarded mind makes him more monstrous.

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