Bleaker than the novel!, 11 November 2009
"We are not gonna quit. We are gonna survive this." The Man
Survival is the ultimate motif of the Cormack McCarthy Pulitzer The Road. And so too is the film adaptation, faithful to the original while adding what McCarthy can't—the actualization of a landscape barren of life and humans barren of humanity. Then again, the film's failure is being even bleaker than the source, a testimony to the power of the imagination.
Except for a father (Viggo Mortensen) and young son (Kodi Smit-Mcphee), who represents the hope of the human race as the story assumes the trappings of allegorical, post-apocalyptic literature and film where the desolate outside mirrors the lonely inside of the humans, not all of whom are willing to carry on the good fight. Suicide becomes a leitmotif, a companion to hope as if out of a Bergman film, an escape from the horrible aftermath of devastation never explained. So much the better because allegorically there are numerous ways for us to ruin our earth and our spirits. Not the least of which could be nuclear or cannibal; the former does not make an appearance while the latter is omnipresent.
Director John Hillcoat has emphasized more than McCarthy the role, by flashback, of the wife/mother (Charlize Theron), but overall he has taken dialogue directly from the novel and stayed true to the bleak landscape where the sun doesn't shine and the trees fall intermittently like humans giving up the ghost.
The gray tones and beat up humans are like those in most post- apocalyptic films; however, as in Children of Men to a lesser extent, the focus is on how to survive, not even how to avoid death. In both cases, it's up to the young ones to "carry a fire' (the mantra of The Road), itself a metaphor for the strength to survive:
"Everything depends on reaching the coast. I told you I would do whatever it takes." The Man
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