Although they are often distinguished by their quick, witty dialogue and creative word play, Queen Brothers They have a more hopeless side to them that tends to come out more subtly – their approach to the existential problem of human existence and the search for meaning. While they sometimes address this issue directly in their films, most clearly in A Serious ManFor example, for the most part they prefer to deal with personalities who have already decided their point of view on the problem. In response, there are three basic types of characters that largely take precedence in their filmography: despairing, nihilistic, or overly optimistic.
With basic examples Larry Gopnik (Michael Stolberg), Comrade – the friend – the man (Jeff Bridges), and Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooneyrespectively, Coens always create characters who either wrestle violently over what they think will give meaning to their lives, or are simply engulfed in emptiness. Evidence for this phenomenon is found in the number of times the Brothers fill their films with each person’s heroes looking to expand the meaning or ambitious extent of their lives with off-the-wall schemes beyond their abilities.
In the Coen Brothers movies, goals weren’t always necessarily big
However, it is not always the case that these characters and plots are especially great goals. in Raise Arizonafor example, all that Nicolas Cage And the holly hunterThe characters Hi and Ed yearn for, believing that it will give meaning to their lives, is a child. Once this is proven, their wildly optimistic personality traits come to the fore, allowing their ill-considered scheme to obtain a child of their own by kidnapping a child. With these characters, the Coens started a clearly defined brand in their movie franchise, the goofy, hyper-optimistic dreamer, an archetype to follow. Hudsucker AgentNorville Barnes (Tim Robbins) And the burn after readingChad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) to name a couple only. For these characters, the world is theirs to make of as they please, and it never collapses due to overwhelming possibilities or existential puzzles being thrown against them.
However, Coens does not rely solely on this archetype. With their fourth participation as directors, both other types of specific characters have been introduced to their roster. Miller’s Crossing Nihilism brought Gabriel BurneTom Reagan, a man who after a long period of teamwork sees life as little more than a game of wits. Staring, indefinitely, beneath the barrels of the guns he’s often pointed at, we watch him navigate a life that is no more than a dirty game, eschewing friendships and relationships as he goes that might have only given meaning to life if he was held in higher esteem.
Then, having completed the Trilogy of Different Existential Attitudes, Queens continued this film by staring completely into the void and delving into the senseless realm of existence, unfulfilled goals, and unrewarding jobs of a hopeless nature. Barton Fink. The tale of a man who feels prevented from writing the kind of work he desires and from achieving his goals, Fink (John Turturro) eventually seems to flounder in the purgatory he feels is living, eventually bound by a contract he has to work under but will never see any of his business productive.
The Coen brothers begin to explore passive nihilism
while Miller’s CrossingThe brand of energetic nihilism soon gave way to this miserable attitude toward life’s pursuits, and it is interesting to see how, shortly thereafter, Queens looked to the other side of the coin. Perhaps the most famous character, The Dude posits an alternative approach to Tom Reagan’s existential position that life has no meaning – passive nihilism. Instead of living fast, dying young feverish with disrespect for the life in which it was seen Miller’s Crossingwith The Big Lebowski They bring up the idea of living slowly, and just living—in the sense of Matthew McConaughey Levine.
It is as if these filmmakers are using their characters as something of an experiment, their very special but natural dialogue giving the impression that they are simply creating a character with a certain approach to life’s lack of meaning, seeing how they live happily. Or, based on the frequency of these character traits – with Buster Scruggs’ (Tim Blake Nelson) Tom Reagan – The Nihilistic Shooting, Yahya Kaiser!General optimism and carefree whims, or Lewin DavisVery Depressing Behavior – Queens probably thinks these three situations sum up every situation or mood in life.
A character’s fate often parallels their worldview
It’s also interesting to note how kind the Coens seem to treat these different characters, as their fates seem to reaffirm or curse the characters’ attitudes. Oftentimes, those characters with more relaxed or optimistic approaches are eventually avoided, while those who are already beginning to be depressed fade away into more pain. Take Norville Barnes, for example, the forgetful and positive protagonist Hudsucker Agent. Even in the movie universe, his blind optimism and ignorance of his (apparently) flaws eventually (seemingly) lead to his demise, as he falls off the top of the Hudsucker Building. However, the Queens take pity on him, with an outward metaphysical machine that stops time in the movie world and allows him to fall safely to the ground. The same can be said of Everett’s miraculous escape Hey brother, where are youAnd despite all the obvious danger The Dude is taking all along Lipowskialso ends relatively unharmed and unchanged, continues to decline carelessly and remains a witness to the fact that, in truth, nothing really matters so much.
Compare this to the grim ending of Inside Llewyn Daviswhere fate seems to conspire and fester against LLewyn, or Fate A Serious Man, where the Coens present the ultimate irony of a life spent worrying about health and (potentially) meaning wiped out by a swift tornado. Whether they are trying to give meaning or judgment on these situations is perhaps too vague to tell, but their constant variance of characters who hold these three existential visions give their films a unique and enduring stance in the search for meaning in one way or another.
It is perhaps easiest to suggest that life for the universe can be best summed up by the endings of two of these films mentioned above, and that any attitude towards life is just an attitude, often considered more important than it should be. is being. If the constant whimsy and fun of their filmmaking despite lauding their more serious productions suggests anything, they often feel that this serious side of life is overrated. Perhaps, as characters in the finals burn after reading And the A Serious Man Tell us – we know nothing, we have not learned anything, the search for meaning is useless, and we would be better off avoiding the matter altogether.