Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Road


It's been awhile since I reviewed any films or books on here, and since I can't sleep the night before my flight from Frankfurt, here are my thoughts on a recent book I'm still pondering.

I read Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer winner in its entirety on the plane ride from D.C. to Frankfurt about three weeks ago. I had to read it in one sitting. And I'm still thinking about it even now. The story follows a man and his son in a post-apocalyptic America as they attempt to survive, walking slowly down a road towards what they believe to be hope. Along the way, they encounter various people and circumstances, trying to make the best of each situation. But like all good stories, it's much more complex than this. The innocently pure character of the boy is pitted against the survive-at-all-costs nature of the father, creating a tight balance between the light and dark aspects of human nature. Really, that's what the entire story is about--balance and adaptation. There's a balance between survival and savagery, compassion and chaos, good and evil. The boy and the man must come to grips with each other's character--the boy's naive purity and the father's paternal pragmatism.

There is also a tension throughout the book voiced by one of the boy's questions: why are we trying to survive? There are so many spiritual dimensions to this question--does anything we do matter outside of relationship with other human beings? If we had no one else to love or care for, would our lives have meaning? If we knew that we couldn't survive without causing harm to others, should we still try? What is worth living for if the world has been destroyed? McCarthy does a phenomenal job raising these questions in the relationship between the father and son, and the story's end is well worth the entire read. Plus, McCarthy's knowledge and use of the English language is astounding; I wish I had a dictionary near me for some of the words and phrases he used (and I'd like to think I have a better-than-average vocabulary!). In high school, I read one of McCarthy's earlier works, All The Pretty Horses; I loved it. I'm very fond of McCarthy's style of writing, and I'd highly recommend the book.

What gets me even more excited is that this story is becoming a film that is being released this November. Directed by John Hillcoat (who directed The Proposition, one of the grittiest and best western films I've ever seen), The Road has a very solid cast lined up--Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, and Robert Duvall. If I could recreate a most anticipated film list for 2008, this would easily be in my top five. I'm gonna predict it now; there's potential for Oscar-nominations if this film lives up to the standards of the book.

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