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Will The Road be a masterpiece or a disaster?

September 6, 2009

So it looks like after literally years of waiting, the post-apocalyptic movie The Road, based on the Cormac McCarthy book of the same name, is going to be released on October 16, and the publicity machine is finally grinding into motion. It might be too little, too late. (trailer after the jump!)

Apple has an additional trailer,  and if that’s not enough, io9.com has five clips from the film here.

I’ve had my internet ear out for this movie ever since I first heard it had been optioned, but for some reason this is the first time I’m seeing this trailer.

The thing is, I’m not sure if I even want to see it, especially after watching that trailer. I’m not one of those THEBOOKWASBETTER!!! purists, and usually I love seeing film adaptations, but something about this film just feels…off to me. The fact that it was put on ice for almost a year certainly doesn’t help its case, but- but- Cormac McCarthy!! Viggo Mortensen!! Nick Cave!! How could it go wrong?

The thing I loved about McCarthy’s novel was how different it was from most every other post-apocalyptic novel I’ve read. (My thesis was on the apocalypse in popular literature, so I’ve read my fair share, both good and oh-so-bad, of the genre.) I felt a more genuine despair and hopelessness while reading that book than anything I’ve ever felt in real life. It was the first time I believed that there really could be an End – a permanent one, where life really doesn’t survive.

It was horribly depressing, but I stand by it both as one of my favorite books and one of the best books I’ve ever read.

The trailer, though, looks like every disaster movie ever made. Fade in – huge natural disaster – fade out. Fade in – fire – fade out. Fade in – decimated metropolis – fade out. Fade in – abandoned landscapes – fade out. (See: 2012.)  Then chaos, lots of shouting, KILL IT WITH FIRE, danger, danger, etc. etc.  It’s getting a little threadbare, this format.

I understand that the novel’s meditative and silent tendencies won’t transfer well to film, but really, there’s nothing in the plot of the novel that sets it apart from every other post-apocalyptic plot ever.  It’s a ghost-in-the-machine type of power, harder to pin down, and the filmmakers appear to have missed it.  Or at least, the trailer-makers have.

On a related note: It’s not been totally ironed out yet, but it looks like I will be writing an essay for io9.com related to post-apocalyptic novels and why we love them oh so much. If it happens, it’ll show up around The Road‘s release date, Oct. 16, so keep your eyes peeled! (I’m so excited. I love io9.)

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