Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the sleeping alone review of films*: the road

Summary: They're gonna screw it up.

Here's a trailer:

As always, I want the movie to give me the same experience as the book did. In this case, I know that what I want is not deliverable by the filmmakers, for one main reason: the novel achieved its sparseness in large part because of McCarthy's decision to eschew conventions of printed text, to avoid description, to avert his eyes from the details that might matter to us as voyeurs but wouldn't matter to the characters that populate this post-apocalyptic ode to humanity's innate survival drive.

Look at the following examples:

I should have been more careful, he said.
The boy didn't answer.
You have to talk to me.
You wanted to know what the bad guys looked like. Now you know. It may happen again. My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?
He sat there cowled in the blanket. After a while he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said.
Yes. We're still the good guys.
And we always will be.
Yes. We always will be.

He walked out into the gray light and stood and he saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of an intestate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like ground-foxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it.

Films, visual and aural platforms that they are, hinge on the presumption that a thing worth the camera's focus is worth showing to the audience in all its textured glory. While we judge a novel(or, for that matter, a screenplay or script) based on the writer's ability to show us a scene instead of telling it to us, a movie--with some, but not much, variation--is restricted only to showing. You can show well, or you can show less well, but the delicate dance of showing without showing--McCarthy's tactic throughout the road--is nigh on impossible on the screen.

Besides, when it comes to movie, story is king. we want movies whose narratives bend us over ourselves. We want to get a good look at the enemy, even if the enemy is scarcely described in the novel on which the film is based. We want all dimensions of the relationship between the boy and his father. We want to know the boy's mother and understand why she did what she did.

Still, you know how I like post-apocalyptic zombie movies, and this movie basically fits the bill. It comes out Oct. 16, which means there's still plenty of time for any number of interested parties to screw it up royally.

*that have not yet been released

1 comment:

Daniel Hickey said...

I hope you are wrong but I am afraid you might be right. The trailer sure brought back the book for me and gave me goosebumps. And I love Mortensen and Theron. Thanks for the heads up as I have been wondering when it was coming


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