Book Vs. Film returns with The Road, a piece of classic American literature. Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer winner is a trek through the terrain of the human spirit. If you read my review of John Hillcoat’s film, you know I tipped my cards before putting this piece together. The film adaptation struggles to find its footing.
When I was in school, The Road was one of my favorite works. I’ve always been fascinated by the human psyche. Literature has a way of discerning character, catapulting emotion and transporting the portraits of our minds to one another. That emptiness and that heart, in this portfolio, is a transferal of the very thing that keeps us going in our darkest hours. The Road, in the case of a father dragging his own blood through the dust, is a world on its final threads, the mental landscape of a relationship burning on the outskirts. It’s desolate, destroyed to the point of hollowness. Nothing grows any longer. There’s only one tree left and the man must keep it alive. Without the tree, there is no life and no reason to continue on.
I’d love to go further into my appreciation for McCarthy’s piece, but I honestly said all I had to say in a thorough critique of the remaking of this apocalyptic tale.
In most cases, films will have better visuals than words on paper but in this case, even Hillcoat’s film falls short there. He spends a lot of time on his cinematography but a writer as keen as McCarthy bests him in spectacle as well as narrative. To beat a a literary mind, Hillcoat would need to do something impressive behind the camera and it simply doesn’t happen. He decides to pass on the black and white noir look, something I think would have added a lot to the hopelessness of the situation. The film also lacks the narrative constraint that a movie is afforded. A novel is wide with its strokes while film can make short, but more impactful strokes to hammer its points home. We never get that here.
A super short piece for Book Vs. Film this time around, but I’m ready to move on to the next piece. You just can’t skip out on a Pulitzer winner.