Ten years ago Joel and Ethan Coen‘s No Country For Old Men premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and mister, what a moment that was. A No Country press luncheon happened a day or two after that first screening, and at one point I had a brief chat with Ethan about…well, read it. The whiners tried to beat me up for having spoiled the “final fate” of Josh Brolin‘s character, but I didn’t spoil jack diddly squat.

HE to Ethan Coen: “The only speed bump for mainstream audiences in No Country for Old Men, as you know, is your decision to not allow audiences to share in Josh Brolin‘s final fate, as it were.”

Coen to HE: “And that’s a perverse decision, isn’t it?”

No Country for Old Men co-director and co-writer Ethan Coen at Miramax press luncheon — Sunday, 5.20.07, 1:55 pm.

HE: “That’s one of the things that give the film artistic authority and distinction, and it either makes people respect it or…”

Cohen: “Or dislike it.”

HE: “Well, we all know that there’s a certain expectation [out there], that when you’ve spent the entire movie with a guy, you wanna…but for me, this is what makes the film extra-special.”

Coen: “And for us too. I mean, it’s just from the novel and [garbled]. But when you get to this point you say, ‘Okay, the movie’s not ultimately about this guy…so what is it about?'”

HE: “About the end of the world, about the good old stuff really coming to an end, about being engulfed by waste and annihilation.”

Coen: “Uh-huh!”

Here’s a sound file of the conversation.