One For The Road

Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a book everyone I’ve talked to has read, yet I’ve never seen anyone reading it. This might be the ultimate compliment for a book as it consumes the reader’s life, so they do not reenter society until they have completed it. I have not read the book. After seeing the movie I shall put it on my mental queue.

The Road (not to be confused with Fellini’s La Strada) is the story of a nameless man and a child trying to survive a post-apocalyptic world. No animals or vegetation have survived. Canned foods and other humans are all one can eat. They must avoid earthquakes, fires, and most of all other humans. No one is trustworthy. Humans are cannibals, thieves, or sniveling cowards. Yes, this just might be the feel good movie of the year.

In it Viggo Mortensen continues his hand to hand combat with Christian Bale to be this generation’s angst ridden action hero. He does it all. Loses a hundred pounds, grows a straggly beard, strips naked to swim to a wrecked ocean liner, even shoots a no good scoundrel. He is in every scene of the movie, save one, and carries its tortured tone throughout.

The Road belongs to the growing number of films about rugged individuals trying to survive a dying world. The genre probably starts with Charlton Heston in The Omega Man, continues with the Mad Max movies, was perfected in 12 Monkeys and keeps going with Children of Men, Blindness, The Mist, and I Am Legend.

But the movie  The Road reminded me most of was the 1988 animated flick, The Land Before Time. This tells the story of a brontosaurus named Bigfoot who pals up with a bunch of other orphaned dinosaurs. They are trying to find The Great Valley, a land that according to legend is filled with life. The Great Valley seems like a fairy tale because the rest of the world is one of death and exploding volcanos. The end of the movie is happy. They reach The Great Valley which is lush and filled with promise. You are supposed to leave the movie with a smile on your face. But how can you? You know what is in store for them after the credits. The dinosaurs are all going to end up dead.

If you stay through the credits of The Road and keep your ears open, you hear sounds that maybe there is life and hope for humanity.  It’s amazing how one ounce of positivity can overcome the previous two hours that show us where humanity is most probably headed.

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3 thoughts on “One For The Road

  1. In terms of G-rated nihilism, Land Before Time is up there with Babe 2: Pig in the City. I remember seeing that flick at a theater and walking out because it was too disturbing… And I was like 7.

  2. Love the review, man. You’ve got a great voice going for ya’. Glad you liked the movie, but of course, you’re gonna have to read the book now. Hope you like it just as much and keep up the good work. Digging the site.

  3. Hey “Pablo” – “You got some ‘splainin to do”. Not really. But, I just felt compelled to type that. Stream of consciousness stuff, as you may well know.

    I waited this long to write this comment until after I read the book and saw the movie.

    You’re dead on about the unblinking fatality of the journey. I felt that way while reading the book. Unrelenting and no reason to go on. Including in my reading. It took me a month to finish it. It was a real labor to pick the book up each time. Because I knew the Man and the Kid just weren’t going anywhere. I suffered with them. They exhibited more will to live than I did to read. But, I strove for the finish just as they did. And, for what? Just what I thought would happen. A deus ex machina of sorts for the kid. I felt a little cheated in my relief.

    The movie is a valiant effort. But, fell short for me in that it WAS TOO SHORT. If this movie were going to be made at all then it should have been with full commitment. The movie was TOO ABRUPT for me after having just struggled for so long with the duo. Admirable effort but really the movie needed to be epic on a Dances with Wolves level to fully appreciate the dismal monotonous dreariness of it all. But, that ain’t gonna sell tickets.

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