What is the dominant idea that runs through the six stories in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs?

Jarrell 2022-04-21 09:02:03

"Death and random chaos and nothingness"

Let's take the first story as an example: about rules.

Buster Struggs is a sharpshooter from Texas with a reputation. At the same time, he sings very well and is called "Saint Saba Wonderful Bird", which he likes very much. He was wanted by the government after he killed his partner for cheating at poker (because he hated unfair behavior).

First conflict:

One day he passed a tavern on the edge of a cliff and went in looking for some whisky. There were a few vicious people sitting in the tavern. Buster Struggs didn't care about them. He kicked the door with his foot, nodded to them, and patted the dust on his white clothes, dusted the dust into a human shape, and then calmed down. Hurry up to the counter. His actions made these villains feel defiant and despised.

The tavern owner told him coldly: the wine here is not sold to law-abiding people, but only to outlaws. Buster Struggs smiled calmly and said, "Don't be fooled by my gentle appearance, my lord, I'm also a murderous extrajudicial fanatic.

At this time, one of the villains who was drinking said: You are not worthy of the honorable title of outlaw, and we do not drink with pretentious people.

Buster Struggs said calmly: Sir, with all due respect, you are a piece of garbage. And I'm not just targeting you, I mean, everyone in this room is trash.

How could a wicked man deserve such an insult. He stood up, exposed the revolver at his waist, put on a duel stance, and asked: Does your gun work?

Seeing a war is inevitable. Buster Struggs struck first. He quickly pulled out the revolver around his waist and shot the villain between the eyebrows, causing the villain to fall. Then Buster Struggs put the revolver handsomely back into the gun case around his waist with a beautiful fancy revolver.

The other villains were stunned for a second, then hurriedly got up and drew their guns. However, the hand speed of "Saint Saba Wonderbird" is too fast, and even a 30-year-old virgin who has been single for 30 years cannot match his hand speed. With a quick shot, he killed a few villains in an instant, and also killed the tavern owner from behind.

He walked away.

Second conflict:

Buster Struggs came to a small town called "Frenchman's Canyon". He walked into a large tavern here, which was full of people and lively. The bartender asked him to keep the gun at the door, which is the pub's rule. Buster Struggs agreed without thinking.

Although handing in all the guns made him feel a little insecure. But he thought, since everyone has handed in, there should be no accident.

In the middle of the tavern is a gambling table, with four people sitting around, fighting the landlord. Buster Struggs walked to the table, when one of the gamblers threw the cards on the table angrily because the cards were too bad and left.

When he saw that it was really time for this buddy to leave, it was just three missing one, so he sat down and prepared to play cards. However, the gambler at the table told him that he could sit and play if he wanted to, but he had to play the cards that the other person had.

Buster Struggs glanced at the deck of cards, which was drawn by a famous cowboy before his death, which was so ominous. So he refused to play the deck. But it was too late, a gambler named "Old Joe" told him viciously: after seeing the cards, you have to play.

Buster Struggs didn't want to lose money, so he said: What if I don't play?

"Old Joe" stood up, revealing the revolver around his waist.

"Saint Saba Bird of Music" does not eat this set. He said to "Old Joe": No one can force others to be entertained, especially a bastard like you.

"Old Joe" pulled out the revolver and pulled the bolt.

Unexpectedly, Buster Struggs shot first again. He used the tabletop as a seesaw and used the "principle of leverage" to let "Old Joe" shoot himself.

Then "Holy Saba" led the people in the tavern to sing and dance together. The tavern was suddenly filled with a cheerful atmosphere.

Third conflict:

While everyone in the tavern was singing and dancing happily, the younger brother of "Old Joe" rushed in. He saw his brother who had been beaten lying on the ground, sad and angry.

He pointed at Buster Struggs and accused him of attacking his brother when he was not prepared.

"Saint Saba" said proudly: Buster Struggs never shoots people in the back. My killings are fair duels, but your brother's skills are inferior to others.

"Old Joe"'s younger brother said: Are you Buster Struggs, the legendary Texas idiot?

"Saint Saba Whisperbird" is a little upset: I think you're talking about the Texas lark, because lark sings very nicely, just like me.

"Old Joe"'s brother said: I don't care what you call yourself. Come out now, I'm going to fight with you.

On the outdoor field, the younger brother of "Old Joe" was very angry, but Buster Struggs was very calm, and he was full of confidence in solving this opponent. He even tightened his belt before the duel.

He asked the other party: Are you ready? The other party said: Okay. He asked again: Are you ready? The other party said: Okay. He asked again: Do you need to count down? The other party said: No need.

Sure enough, Buster Struggs strikes first again. He knocked off five fingers of the opponent with five shots.

Before the opponent could recover from the panic, Buster Struggs took out a mirror and used the "reflection principle" to annoy the opponent.

He won again.

Last conflict:

Buster Struggs walked over to his opponent's body and was about to sing a celebration song when a harmonica sounded in the distance. Men are intoxicated.

A cowboy riding a horse and dressed in black came from a distance and walked beside him.

Cowboy in black asked: Are you Buster Struggs?

Buster Struggs said: It's down. Dude, your harmonica sounds really nice.

The cowboy in black said: "It's an honor to be praised by "Saint Saba". I've been looking for you for a long time, and they said that only by defeating you can you become the real king.

Buster Struggs was stunned for a moment. But he soon understood that the cowboy was here to challenge him.

He felt that this cowboy was really over his head, thinking that he could still win a complete victory like the previous few times.

He even thought that he should give up this wandering life and start a funeral business, specializing in burying the opponents who were killed by him, and he might make a lot of money.

Once again he went to the dueling position, once again full of confidence. So much so that when the other party asked him if he needed a countdown, he was still wondering if he should take off his white clothes and put on a black suit during his funeral.

In the life of "pop", the gun rang.

Buster Struggs saw the cowboy on the opposite side in a shooting stance, his gun still smoking.

He suddenly felt that something was wrong, took off his hat, there were bullet holes in the front and back, and there were blood stains. He picked up the mirror he used to kill Lao Qiao's brother just now, and saw the bullet hole between his eyebrows. He felt the terror and despair of dying. He understood in an instant: no one can win forever.

With a thud, he fell.

The cowboy put the gun back on his chest, walked over to his body, and sang a song.

The soul of Buster Struggers left the body, and slowly flew to heaven with the song of the cowboy.

There will be no more conflict in Buster Struggs' life.

In the first conflict:

Tavern owners and villains violate county rules against selling and drinking alcohol. They themselves set another rule: only sell alcohol to outlaws, and don't drink with outsiders. And Buster Struggs came in to beg and drink, obviously breaking the rules set by the boss and the villains. The tavern owner and the villains naturally resented the stranger, believing that he had disturbed them and challenged their own rules. The irony is that they are rule breakers themselves, but very dissatisfied with those who break the rules they make.

But Buster Struggs is not a good stubborn. He doesn't care about the rules at all, he just wants to have a drink. After his own request was rejected, Buster Struggs unceremoniously insulted the villain and his friends who rejected him.

The villain stood up to duel with Buster Struggs. Based on dueling scenes in past Westerns, we know that duels also have rules. In order to ensure a fair duel, it must be confirmed that both sides are ready before the guns can be drawn.

Obviously, Buster Struggs did not follow the rules of duel. When the opponent was not ready, he attacked first, and ended up killing the villain. Then, with his hand speed, he killed other people in the room.

Although Buster Struggs is the protagonist, he is not a good person. Tavern owners and villains are not wrong, they just don't want to drink with strangers. And Buster Struggs insulted them because of this, and killed the other party when they were not ready. He really wasn't a gentleman.

In this round, the man who didn't obey the county's no-drinking rules was beaten to death by a man who didn't obey the dueling rules. Buster Struggs, who did not follow the rules of the duel, won.

In the second conflict:

This time, when Buster Struggs entered the tavern, he strictly abide by the rule of "keep guns at the door", and he did so thoroughly, even handing over the small pistols in his socks.

However, he violated the rules of the table.

When you have just sat at the table and haven't looked at the cards, people tell you: if you want to play, you can, but you must play the cards left by the person who left. You have no objection and look at the cards on the table. When you see a bad hand, you refuse to take it. If you are like you, and you regret after seeing the cards, how can the bet go on?

But Buster Struggs insisted on breaking the rules. At this time, "Old Joe" quit. He was very dissatisfied and angry with this person who insisted on breaking the rules of the game, and he took out a gun and threatened him.

But obviously "Old Joe" violated the tavern's "guns at the door" rule.

In the end, in this round, the person who obeyed the tavern rules but violated the game rules, killed the person who defended the game rules but violated the tavern rules.

Buster Struggs wins again.

In the third conflict:

Obviously, "Old Joe"'s younger brother is an honest man.

Facing the murderer who killed his brother, he never thought of taking revenge in an indecent way such as sneak attack, nor did he choose to escape because the other party was a well-known sharpshooter. Instead, confront each other bravely and ask them to go outside with a gun to a fair duel, even when their chests are already full of anger.

Even before the duel, he was given the initiative by Buster Struggs. Old Bass loosened his belt and asked him three questions before shooting. He actually answered all of them, and didn't shoot first. Maybe he felt that the other party didn't tighten his belt and shoot first before he finished speaking, which was not in line with the rules of a duel.

Even if it makes people who watch the movie think he's a jerk.

From this we can see that the younger brother of "Old Joe" is subconsciously abiding by the unwritten rules of the western barbarian world.

But he was obviously a lot more immature in front of the experienced and wily Buster Struggs. Laoba doesn't care so much, he is not a fool. He decisively shot first...

In this duel, did Buster Struggs break the rules?

But no matter what, in this round, Buster Struggs won again.

In the fourth conflict:

Cowboys in black are not a good stubble, he came prepared.

He pursued Buster Struggs for a long time, not to invite him for coffee, but to fight him. Because it is said in all corners of the world that only by defeating Buster Struggs can he be called a real sharpshooter.

In this town, the black cowboy finally found his senior.

Laoba's attitude towards black-clothed cowboys is not as serious as the attitude he took towards Lao Qiao's younger brother in the last round. He thought his opponents would end up like those before him, knocking him down with ease.

As everyone knows, the black cowboy has been training against him for many years, and he knows his technical characteristics and personality traits like the back of the hand.

At this moment, the cowboy in black must have been completely focused and would not have given him a chance to shoot first.

After the black-clothed cowboy asked if he wanted to count down, Laoba wasn't quite ready yet, he was still thinking about the funeral.

However, the script this time was completely different from what he expected.

This time, Laoba violated the rules of the duel, after all, he didn't shoot first.

Are black cowboys strictly abiding by the rules of the duel? After all, the old bus is not completely ready.

However, this is no longer important. People cannot be resurrected from the dead.

Buster Struggs believes that there must be a place where people will no longer be mean, everyone can abide by the rules, play cards fairly, and silently shake their heads at the mean behavior in life.


Neither Buster Struggs nor his opponents are good people in this story. They live in the savage world of the West, living a life with today and no tomorrow.

Some of them follow the rules, some break the rules.

But whether they follow the rules or not, has nothing to do with their final outcome.

No one can be the boss forever, and accidents may occur at any time.

Maybe one day, a stranger suddenly appears in front of you, whether you follow the rules or not, whether you are a good person or a bad person, he can end your life. And his life will one day be ended by others in the same way.

Just like the cowboy in black, there will definitely be another sharpshooter who has practiced for many years in the future, find him and defeat him to become the new king.

The story goes on and on.

Life is so absurd, full of chaos and nothingness.

There must be no meanness in heaven, there must be fair rules and playing conditions.

But, whether heaven exists or not, who knows?

View more about The Ballad of Buster Scruggs reviews

Extended Reading
  • Toni 2021-12-02 08:01:26

    The Coen Brothers' "Bast Scruggs Ballad" is a collection of short films. But what does it matter? The fifth story alone is close to five stars. A trip to the caravan escort that accompanies death accidents, mutual trials, and leads to a new hope is orderly and heart-shattering: the young girl who has been mentally nervous and sensitive, with a barking puppy, is about to look forward to a bright future, but the movie Unexpectedly, the song ended. The whole movie has a wanton and legendary literary meaning. Of course, I also like other stories, like the humming sharpshooter-he is waiting for you in heaven; the unlucky robber-how wonderful life is, like before you die The good girl who took a long look); the old man who returned the bird's egg is a savage story that happened in the west. Wonderful, dangerous, full of enigmatic uncertainty. Reciting the "Ozmandis" written by Shelley from the little brother, is it not a contract to pass through the great shark in an instant. On the other hand, the summary statement of the last story is somewhat pretending to be clear-the film reviews have been written out.

  • Madisyn 2022-03-29 09:01:02

    It is a moment of misfortune, a life like a harp, an ignorant chicken and a dog, a fragile and strong flesh and blood, a color and black and white illustration in a thin book page, a bullet that passes through the forehead and a lifetime, and a joke with death. The carriage driving towards the house of the end.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs quotes

  • Buster Scruggs (segment "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs"): Misanthrope? I don't hate my fellow man, even when he's tiresome and surly and tries to cheat at poker. I figure that's just a human material, and him that finds in it cause for anger and dismay is just a fool for expecting better.

  • Alice Longabaugh (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled): Gilbert had a saying for any situation. A ready bit of wisdom. He was very certain.

    Billy Knapp (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled"): He was a doughface?

    Alice Longabaugh (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled): ...He had fixed political beliefs. All of his beliefs were quite fixed. He would upbraid me for being wishy-washy. I never had his certainties. I suppose it is a defect.

    Billy Knapp (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled"): I don't think it's a defect at all. Oh no. Uncertainty. That is appropriate for matters of this world. Only regarding the next are vouchsafed certainty.

    Alice Longabaugh (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled): Yes.

    Billy Knapp (segment "The Gal Who Got Rattled"): I believe certainty regarding that which we can see and touch, it is seldom justified, if ever. Down the ages, from our remote past, what certainties survive? And yet we hurry to fashion new ones. Wanting their comfort. Certainty... is the easy path. Just as you said.