Gateway Cinephiles Review: The Road

I recently got up the guts to watch “The Road”, John Hillcoat’s faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s horrific yet beautiful novel of the same name.  I wrote about the book some time back but instead of writing a review of the movie I thought I’d link to friend and film critic Andrew Wyatt’s apt review of the film.

Viggo Mortensen was incredible in this film, completely embodying the character from the book.  Kodi Smith-McPhee on the screen was exactly what I pictured The Boy to be.  Their performances, along with Hillcoat’s apparent intention to mimic the book very closely, made this film.

I very much liked the movie and, while not quite as good as the book, it was a faithful adaptation that effectively told this compelling story.  Don’t pass up this movie or the book because of the tough subject matter; it’ll leave you changed once you experience it.

You can read the review here: Gateway Cinephiles Review  » The Road

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The Way of the Dinosaur

After visiting the “Dinosaurs Unearthed” exhibit at the St. Louis Science center a few weeks ago, it got me thinking about the reality of extinction and fallacy of immortality.  Dinosaurs were the dominant organism on this planet for 160 million years; compare that to humans who’ve dominated this planet for not even 1/4 of one million years.  That fact alone is astonishing.  It’s also amazing to realize that it’s been 65 million years between the dinosaurs and us, and for almost all of that time we were not the dominant creatures on this planet.  And with the planet itself being 4.5 billion years old, our entire human history-even before crude pictures drawn in caves-is just a small blip on the radar, a tiny flash in the grand scheme of the planet.  Just a galactic sneeze.

The concept of immortality is attractive to humans since most of us are afraid to die.  The thought of living forever is romantic; it helps ease our anxiety and depression.  There’s no proof it’s true but most people don’t let a lack of evidence influence their opinions.  Bertrand Russell said that Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones. Because we’re typically small-minded and self-centered, humans have created an entire planet’s history around our own timeline.  We’re also guilty of assigning purpose and design to the entire universe based on this inflated sense of self.  To the believers and perpetrators of myth, Earth’s history began with humans.  To many of these same types, the universe works in accordance with our wants and desires; for time out of mind we were convinced we were the center of the universe, torturing and murdering those who would disagree.  Only now, due to the brave and thoughtful work of our scientists and Freethinkers, (and not coincidentally, those most derided by myth-perpetrators) we’re now aware of our place in the universe and just how fractional and fleeting our existence really is. Continue reading

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The Road

I just finished Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road.


I’ve never been this moved by a written work.  It’s brilliant.

This isn’t a review.  This isn’t a critique.  I’m not a critic; I’m just compelled to write about how it made me feel.

I just finished it last night.  I started it two days ago.  It’s a quick read but it’s a tough read as well.  While not reading it I found myself at work thinking about it; wondering what will happen to these two nameless people, genuinely concerned for their welfare.

The Road takes place on Earth in some not so distant future.  A cataclysmic event has occurred that has left presumably the entire United States-most likely the entire planet-burned and destroyed.  It’s bitterly cold; no sunlight penetrates the thick, black cloud cover.  There are almost no people left alive.  Virtually everything has been plundered.  There is almost no food, there are no living plants, and there are virtually no animals left alive.  The people who are left are living on borrowed time.   They’re the walking dead.  They’re freezing and they’re starving.  Some have banded together in gangs and have resorted to slavery and cannibalism.

There is a man in this story; a father.  He has a son.  They have no names.  The boy was born just after disaster struck.  We don’t know what that disaster actually was; we just see the aftermath.  The man had a wife but after a number of years surviving the hellish conditions and the gangs of raping cannibals she gives up.  Nothing the mans says can change her mind.  She believes the right thing for them all to do is to end their own lives.  She convincingly argues the case.  She says she’d take the boy’s life as well if it wasn’t for the father.  She walks out one night and kills herself; leaving the boy and the man behind.  The father can’t give up; he’ll find a way…somehow.

They head south for the coast.  It might be warmer there.  Probably not, but it’s something to hope for.  As they walk along the road we see the destruction, the desolation, the hellish world in which they live.  They struggle to stay warm and to find food.  They live in constant fear of what the father calls “the bad guys”.  These are the cannibals who would “eat your child in front of you”.  They talk very little; there’s just so much effort placed in simply surviving.  They don’t need to talk; they’re bound by a love that transcends words.

The father is sick.  He knows he’s dying.  He has to hang on, to give his son hope.  To protect him.  And possibly to put him out of his misery if there truly is no hope.  It’s his duty.

They continue walking, beating a path to the coast.  Along the way they run into some danger as well as some good fortune.  They finally reach the coast but it’s not any better there.  The journey ends for the father but there is a slight hint of hope for the son, and that’s what kept them going all along.

I was both incredibly inspired by this story and yet emotionally destroyed by it.  I’ve never read anything like it.  McCarthy is able to paint the most vivid landscape I’ve ever not seen with only a few, well-crafted sentences.  The desolation of the world, the direness of their situation, I was there.  I swear I was right there with them.  I’ve never read a book that created mood like this.  I worried the whole time for their safety and these aren’t even real people. Continue reading

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