The Unrelenting Stillness of the Coen Brothers

A serious man
By  · Published on November 15th, 2017

No jokes here, just quiet without peace.

When you think of the Coen Brothers, you might think of their bizarre, cockeyed characters and rapidity of jokes, dialogue, and plot that whisks audiences through their often eccentric stories. However if that was all their films were, we’d all be exhausted puddles liquefied by the unending verve of always “on” scripts and style.

Instead, the Coens masterfully utilize their slowness, lingering over austere scenes with rare movement in the scene itself or in the camera observing the scene. This observational palate-cleansing is like a rest to the notes of their rapid content – together making their films perfectly balanced compositions.

This video essay curates and links together some of the most important moments of stillness (of characters, animals, locations and objects) running throughout the filmmakers’ varied canon. Focusing on these rather than the more readily memorable quips and reactions makes you appreciate the construction and juxtaposition of their films’ style.

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).