Recently I watched The Road again, starring Viggo Mortensen and based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel. I’d first seen it back in 2009 when it was first released in theaters. This was the first time I’d seen it since then and to my surprise, I realized I’d missed a few things during the first viewing. I won’t spoil anything here but it occurred to me while watching the film that the cinematography is really very well done, and at times quite stunning. It is a post-apocalyptic story so the colors that we do see, as you’d imagine, are quite stark; grey and grim. Nonetheless when the camera takes the viewer to the main character’s flashbacks of an earlier time before the devastated landscape, you are struck by just how colorful our present world really is. And extremely bright! It made me really appreciate the sun and the colors it can illuminate, when so often we just take it for granted. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.
Although I’d first read McCarthy’s novel when it was first published in 2006, I’ve re-read the story a few times now and absolutely admire McCarthy’s lyrical prose. I’ve since become an avid fan and have read his earlier work. I can’t say enough about his talents as a writer and his ability sometimes to turn simple words into divine passages that you just want to share with others; “He knew only that his child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God, God never spoke.” Gulp!! That just got to me. I imagine what it must be like to be a parent and have to navigate your way through a world that no longer exists and make the best out of the world that is left. For the father and the son (‘the man’ and ‘the boy’, in the novel), this survival means trying to meet the most basic needs of finding suitable food and shelter. On a daily basis. Not easy when the entire landscape has been destroyed by a nuclear disaster (we’re never told what exactly) and all animals and vegetation have been utterly obliterated! How then can one survive?
In 2007 the novel was awarded the most prestigious prize in the land; the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. And rightly so. A word of warning; if you are like me and enjoy or need to read a story that contains proper punctuation, as in quotation marks when characters are in dialogue together, well, forget it in this novel. McCarthy has stated in an interview that as a writer, he doesn’t have time for proper punctuation, in other words, it’s a waste of time! Ha! Okay! Although it may look awkward at first and you never know when the conversation is coming in the first few pages, you quickly get accustomed to McCarthy’s lack of punctuation and can then relish the words for the meaning they convey.
This is not a feel good movie nor is it a particularly optimistic book; it is a grim, often sad, and truly a despairing story however, there are redemptive and hopeful parts to the story which makes the reader appreciate life as we know it, in this world, even more. Hopefully, more people, ie., politicians and governments, have taken note and realize that the planet we inhabit is precious, as well as the people living here. There is only one Earth; we must guard against small and/or large environmental threats because in the end this could have devastating consequences. We must also keep vigilant of any threat of possible nuclear annihilation and protest en masse when we can and force governments to realize (with our voices and petitions) that nuclear weapons are by no means an option to any war, real or imagined.
Read the novel for its lyrical prose and stark message and watch the movie to really appreciate the life we have here on Earth. Then hug the person closest to you and treasure the fact that for now, the post-apocalyptic world of The Road is all just fiction. Peace to one and all. Pay it forward when you can and please, be kind to one another!
This is the word for today (from Calgary, AB)!