Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roughing the Road

If you know me at all, you probably know I'm a pretty fan of Cormac McCarthy's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road. By the time I read it, about 10 months ago now, the movie was already well on it's way to release, and indeed by September or so movie cover editions of the book were coming out. I wasn't really sure how I felt about the idea of a movie of The Road-- I wasn't exactly for it because I didn't want it butchered, but I also thought it could make a solid (even potentially financially successful) film. In any event, the trailer for the film, as near as I can tell, hit the Internet a few days ago. You can view it here. That's right, I'm talking about a trailer again. 

Before I talk about the footage itself-- I have to say that the slide-like shots in the trailer listing activities such as "wake", "search", and "hide" nearly made me want to turn the trailer off immediately. It feels like the editors wanted to convey the difficulties of the man and the boy (they have no names) and resorted to a laundry list of what they have to do to survive as a method to achive this. They obviously didn't understand how ridiculous reading words like wake and search to dramatic music is. It steals away a great deal of credibility from the get-go and if this kind of obliviousness the same creative hand that makes the movie you can expect a rough ride. 

As for the trailer, I was both surprised and not by how it presented the content. The Road is a very quiet kind of novel punctuated by intense moments. The effect is like that of a good horror movie; you're constantly on edge because you never know what's coming next. Long stretches pass smoothly, you're lulled into a false sense of security, and at the most expected moment, the rug is pulled out from underneath you. The quiet moment's in McCarthy's The Road are essential to the novel, both thematically and structurally. It's possible-- maybe even likely, but I'm not going to hope-- that the trailer is misleading.  The trailer makes the film look like a non-stop pulse pounder, and like this summer's Watchmen, people will likely be misled if the film is true to the source. That's fine by me. I've read the book.

Two things that weren't in the book that seem to be in the movie are first, the cause of the disaster that wrecked humanity, and second, a detailed portrayal of the man and his wife. The novel ignores the cause of the Earth's destruction, and is better for it. It doesn't matter how it ended in The Road, simply that it has and the novel concerns itself with surviving in the world as it is now. The past is irrelevant. I'd wager that's why the man's wife is mentioned as infrequently in the novel as she is as well. Her memory is a factor in this new world, but not her, and so the couples relationship isn't gone into detail. I don't exactly know that I like the idea of these two things being explored, but even what The Road is, it seems that the added content is needed to keep the movie-going audience on board. If it's handled well, then it may even have some benefit to the rest of the piece. We'll see. 

Otherwise, the trailer seems very close to the book. My eyes went wide with the first shot of the desolate grey landscape. It was exactly how I had envisioned the world the character's inhabited. Every scene that's depicted seems to have come straight from the novel-- right down to the coke can scene, which comes off as rather ingenuine in the trailer. I really don't believe that boy is tasting coke for the first time. All in all I expect the film will be a rather mediocre affair. It doesn't feel like it'll have much success in finding Oscar gold or an audience. I could be wrong. 

What are your thoughts? If you haven't read the book, does it interest you?


CC44 said...

I've just watched the trailer for it within the last half hour, spurred on by a separate conversation. It didn't thrill me by any means, but I trust Viggo's judgment. He's been solid since LOTR, and that alone will keep me interested. I haven't read the book, though I may yet.

Joe said...

Good since Lord of the Rings? Really? I think you're forgetting an awful little movie called Hidalgo.

Also, despite how much people rave about A History of Violence I couldn't get passed the first ten minutes. Everything within that span of time was completely artificial. I'm supposed to believe that an entire family gets up to hold each other when the little girl has a nightmare? I'm supposed to believe an attractive, fit teen/twenty-something being bullied because he caught a ball in GYM CLASS? No. I was done right there.

The Road is a work of genius. I highly recommend it.

CC44 said...

Ahahaha, "I'm supposed to believe that an entire family gets up to hold each other when the little girl has a nightmare?" Nice one, Joe. I will enjoy that for a while. Well played.

The nice thing about being a work of fiction is they can use these things as devices to illustrate a point. Though I agree, the bullying was silly.

And as for Hidalgo, you take that back *shakes fist*