No Country for Raising Arizona

Very interesting how similar “No Country for Old Men” is to “Raising Arizona.” See for yourself…

UPDATE – I just made a video comparison of one of the trailer scenes. View it on YouTube here.

Comments (54)

  1.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    nice screencaps. check out an essay i wrote comparing the iconography of the two films through the lens of genre here::


  2.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Oh my goodness. Both movies had pictures of guys at desks, driving cars, and working at stores!

  3.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    My thoughts exactly, Derek. What a complete non-post, and why on earth did Daring Fireball think it was worth linking to?

  4.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Raising Arizona is my favorite all-time movie, and when I first saw No Country For Old Men, I was struck by these parallels too. I was convinced that the Coen Brothers were making deliberate references to their earlier work. I guessed that they even had this in mind when they were making casting decisions.

    I’m glad another fan out there had the same feeling.

  5.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    I see no similarities in the images above. Is this a humor post?

  6.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    @Derek I really hope that you are trying to make some profound comment on the entire intelligent design vs evolution debate.

    Not being able to see similarities between the screencaps makes you stupid, not the post.

  7.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Wow, it is almost like the two films had the same directors, with the same visual style…oh, wait.

  8.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Nifty, and I do find these nuances interesting – but you could do the same thing with a myriad of other films, made with the same director or without. Also, look at the Tim Burton Batman/The Dark Night “trailer” – you’d think the same thing was going on :o)

  9.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    So is this a case of meaningful back references to RA and a matching of stories as well as matching shots?

    Or is it just No Ideas for Old Filmmakers?

    Or perhaps just silly games for filmmakers?

  10.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Don’t forget Chigur’s shooting the bird off the bridge. Like LBOTA, he was “especially hard on the little things”

  11.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    The internet is a rocky place where your wit can find no purchase.

  12.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    The screenshots probably aren’t enough to convince someone who hasn’t seen both movies recently. But I think thematically and visually, the movies do share a lot. I won’t get into all the similarities here (they are covered elsewhere by much more astute people), but one sequence that matches exactly between the two films is when in NCFOM, Chigur (and later, Bell) searches through Moss’ trailer. That matches, almost shot-for-shot, the scene in RA where the Angel of Death looks around HI’s trailer. Those are the 8th, 9th, and 10th screenshots above. Revisit RA after seeing NCFOM – it’s pretty interesting.

    UPDATE – check the video link near the top of the post.

  13.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Everbody is so kind and gentle here. I really fail to see how the Bros. Cohen can plariarize there own work…every shot has it’s own dynamics (dolly, crane, stready cam etc.And i totally fail to see the similarities between the 2 movie’s. I’ll try to be nice also….you don’t know squat about cimema.

  14.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    I was just thinking that all those shots were in The Big Lebowski and Fargo also.

  15.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    The Coens have always quoted their own stuff a lot. My favorite is the similarity between John Turturro begging for his life in Miller’s Crossing and Jim True begging for his job in The Hudsucker Proxy, because the effect of the two scenes is so different.

  16.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    This post has me thinking of the long tradition in music of sneaking in little quotes of other bits of music into another work. This happens in jazz a lot, and it’s not a theft of ideas, nor a dearth of new ideas, nor mere accident. Rather, it’s a deliberate game that musicians play, that one might well call “Did You See What I Just Did There?”

    It’s not limited to jazz, of course: The Beatles quoted “All You Need Is Love” at the end of “Love Love Me Do”. Sting, at the end of “Love is the Seventh Wave” quoted “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, adding a bit of humor by turning it into the line “Every Cake You Bake”. Scott Miller (of Game Theory and The Loud Family) throws in little quotes of other artists and himself all the time, and insiders familiar with his work typically love to discover them in the work.

    I wonder why, in film, this practice is much less well received (to the point of people denying its actual existence!) even in the face of pretty good documentation of it. Especially in the case of films by the Coen Brothers such as Raising Arizona which, like a fine albums, bear repeated listenings so well.

    I suspect that those who don’t get it, and don’t even recognize it, are simply not as intimate with the work as those who do.

  17.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Good points pohl. Rewarding the listener/viewer with references to earlier work is extremely widespread and satisfying.

    But here’s in interesting note. Wasn’t NCFOM written by Cormac Mccarthy long after RA was made? (RA was released in 1987 and NCFOM was released in 2006). Since the movie was so true to the book, could it be inferred that Cormac Mccarthy was echoing parts of RA?

  18.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Excellent question. I guess the reason that I attribute it to the brothers Coen instead of McCarthy is that these are all either visual or in terms of the structure of some small section of the screenplay. Or, even discounting that, I suppose that a filmmaker, when considering what book to bring to the big screen, might be selecting work that lends itself well to what the filmmaker would like to achieve.

    Maybe another little piece of evidence is how Javier Bardem’s character in NCFOM is used to parallel both the Lone Biker Of The Apocalypse and H.I. McDunnough. I suppose I would expect a more one-to-one mapping between characters if it were conceived by the McCarthy instead. I’m not sure why I think that, or whether it’s compelling.

    But I do find it interesting. :-)

  19.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Oops…I just realized I got the Beatles songs wrong: They quoted “She Loves You” at the end of “All You Need Is Love”.

    I’m sure one could find examples in Pink Floyd as well.

  20.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Also, note that both films are set in the same time period. I think it’s very possible the Coen brothers went back and looked at RA when working on the set design for NCFOM.

  21.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    What’s great about the similarities between the two films is that they are not even from the same genre, and yet these parallel characters work in each movie. The similarities go way beyond just visual style – they are almost the same archetype (if that’s the right term) in each film, e.g. the badasses in the films are both indifferent grim reapers; the shopkeepers are both submissive (but not stupid) elderly men; the arrogant, wealthy Southwestern businessmen…

    Great post. Great movies.

  22.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    I saw both films and my mom got scared And said, “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel-Air.”I whistled for a cab and when it came near The license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror If anything I could say that this cab was rare But I thought, “Nah, forget it. Yo home to Bel-Air!” I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8and I yelled to the cabby yo holmes smell ya later Looked at my kingdom I was finally there To sit on my throne as the prince of Bel-Air.

  23.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    For me the most striking thing about the similarities is the striking difference between the movies. Despite relying on a similar visual style and including some intentionally identical shots, No Country is so different from Raising Arizona. While the older movie is totally funny and also touching (the perfect ‘Hilarious and touching’ film perhaps), the rather is its opposite: very serious and absolutely grim. This to me is really just a sign of effortless genius. The jazz example someone mentioned above (‘See what I did there?’) is keen.

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  28.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Raising Arizona > No Country for Old Men

  29.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    So cute! Raising A is one of my all time favorites too. So many others though. Did you like Muriel’s Wedding? Well, I did. But then, I’m a chick so maybe it requires estrogen. Not sure. Anyway, interesting clip comparison. Now I need to see “No Country”. thanks ;-D

  30.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1


  31.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Just saw No Country for Old Men and was also struck by the similarities…to me it was really clear. NCFOLM seems like the dark side to Raising Arizona’s lightness. The scene of the dog being about to strike and then being snapped back was the first real sense, but all of those you’ve listed (and the shot on the crow) are too true….looking forward to seeing NCFOLM again to try and make sense of it…also curious how true it is to the novel.

  32.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

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  33.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    While visually quite different overall — much of NCFOM unfolds in darkness, or dark interiors, while RA has high color saturation and brilliant sunlight — both films share numerous motifs, some of which are mentioned above: the near-supernatural villains; small roadside animals as targets; elderly convenience-store clerks threatened with their lives; mobile-home households in the Southwest; electronic devices (transmitter/blue paint bomb) placed in the bag/briefcase containing cash; rationalized theft; close calls with large dogs; bounty hunters; main characters in the field of law enforcement; and
    most interesting, both films end with recollections of dreams (in RA the viewer actually sees the dream).

    These are both superbly done, and belong on any sane person’s List of 100 All-Time Greatest Films.


  34.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Raising Arizona is my favorite movie! These guys should have won an Oscar twenty years sooner

  35.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

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  36.  Rate Comment Up Rate Comment Down  error|1

    Good work. One you overlooked was night shots of Llewelyn and H.I. in bed (not with each other obviously). As a person who’s seen both movies dozens of times, I concur in your analysis. To heck with the naysayers. Heck I say.

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