The Road…h

…movie was pretty good, but not as good as the book.

And I know, I know people always say that. But in this case it really is true.

I liked it (the movie) but it just didn’t have the same effect on me as the book, you know. I think it has something to do with the language. Cormac McCarthy’s voice is so…particular, so evocative. I’m not sure it can be captured well in film. It is captured quite well in the audio book version of the novel. Same goes for previous novels such as All The Pretty Horses and No Country for Old man. Although I have to say that I think the Coen brothers did a very good job of translating Cormac McCarthy’s voice and style and asthetic to film. In fact, it was spot on  as far as I’m concerned. I was so sure it would be too, when I heard that they were making NCFOM into a movie. They just seemed like the perfect fit. Which of course is why that movie won so many awards.

I’d had similar hopes when I learned that it was going to be directed by John Hillcoat because of a movie he directed entitled The Proposition, which was an amazing albeit very brutal movie, but I wasn’t as sure as I was about the Coen brothers doing NCFOM. In fact, so certain was I that the brothers Coen would make a great movie out of that novel that I actually argued it’s merits with someone who had seen it and didn’t think it was all that good even before I’d seen it. Of course, I later saw it and felt entirely justified in my stance.

It’s funny because I wasn’t as enthralled with NCFOM when it first came out. I remember liking it but thinking it was just kind of a Cormac McCarthy-esque thriller, you know. That was partly because it didn’t impress me the way All the Pretty Horses, the first Cormac McCarthy novel I ever read, had. And there’d been a lot of build up, waiting for it to come out. It has been about seven years since he last novel, Cities of the Plain, kind of let down as the third installment of the Border Trilogy, which started with ATPH followed by The Crossing. Point being I was anxious to read something  new by McCarthy. And even though NCFOM was quite an improvement, I found it a little disappointing. And who knew  how long I’d have to wait until the man’s next novel.

Turned out not that long. The Road was published the next year. I had no idea it was coming out. I just remember opening a box of new book at the library where I work and seeing this book with a glossy black cover with the title, The Road, in a muted brown color, and Cormac McCarthy’s name in an even more muted gray color. It was like discovering something you’d always wished for but hadn’t had the chance to yet. My heart began to beat faster. My hands shook a little. For a second I was sure that I was imaginging it, hallucinating. But I wasn’t.

I began reading The Road immediately. And I know that people say this a lot but I literally could not put it down. And as soon as I finished it I began reading it again right then. As soon as I was able I ran out and bought a hardcover copy, because I wanted to have a first edition. If only there was some way to get it signed.

I knew instinctively that it was a great book, a superb novel, and there was no doubt that it would win some literary prize. And I was right. I won The Pulitzer and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, as well as being nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Being selected as an Oprah Book didn’t hurt none either.

Perhaps the movie version never had a chance to live up to my expectations.

But don’t think I’m ragging the movie. Because I’m not. It was excellent. And there were some moments in that book that literally made my heart race. And Viggio Mortensen was the perefect cast for the father, as were all the character castings. The kid who plaed The Boy, Kodi Smit-McPhee, was excellent. But perhaps the most stunning performance came from Robert Duvall, who plays the feeble old man that they (The Man and The Boy) encounter and take a meall with, mostly because of The Boy’s insistence.

Still, I’m not sure I’d automaticlly recomend this movie. It is not for the average movie goer. Most people aren’t going to want to see this movie; no feel good fare it be. Which is why during Thanksgiving I purposely refrained from talking about it when the subject of movies came up. I’d learned my lesson after reading the book, when I was talking aboug books at some family gathering and mentioned the novel — I got a response like a tumbleweed blowing through a ghost town pretty much.


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