"All of this like some ancient anointing. So be it. Evoke the forms. Where you've nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them." (74)
"He walked out into the gray light and stood and saw for a brief moment the absolute truth of the world. The cold relentless circling of the interstate earth. Darkness implacable. The blind dogs of the sun in their running. The crushing black vacuum of the universe. And somewhere two hunted animals trembling like gorundfoxes in their cover. Borrowed time and borrowed world and borrowed eyes with which to sorrow it." (130)
"He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the word and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not." (131)
"A dead swamp. Dead trees standing out of the gray and relic hagmoss. The silky spills of ash against the curbing. He stood leaning on the concrete rail. Perhaps in the world's destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular." (274)
[All quotes come from the Vintage International trade paperback edition of the novel.]
Cormac McCarthy's The Road is one of the great books of the past decade. It's the perfect example of a master author simultaneously appeasing the masses while supplying a richer, more complex subtext (the novel is not just about hope and survival as Oprah would have you believe). Because of the quality of writing here, and the mass appeal and success of the novel, it's no surprise that the novel was adapted into a film destined to be released on the festival circuit before raking in numerous Oscar nominations. However, when John Hillcoat (whose The Proposition also evoked McCarthy, reminding me of Blood Meridian) finished filming The Road I don't think he imagined the film's release being held back twice; ultimately, leading to the film's forgettable release in late 2009/early 2010 after the glut of Oscar hopefuls had already hit theaters. The film just kind of petered out, and its lukewarm reception caused it quickly to fade from people's memory as anything worthy of much thought, let alone deconstruction. The general consensus was that Viggo Mortensen gave (another) great performance, but the film's tone was so dour, and its aesthetic too dilapidated and gray, that the film was a slog to get through. However, what I think we have here is an adaptation that not only gets the aesthetic right, but adds some powerful and poignant context to McCarthy's intentionally skeletal character backgrounds. It all coalesces into a rare film experience: here's a film that is faithful to the novel (sometimes a tad too faithful) while showcasing the talents and vision of the filmmakers and actors. It may be the closest thing we'll ever get to a legitimate visual representation of the tone and themes found throughout McCarthy's oeuvre.