The Pulitzer-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy is now faithfully
converted to the big screen. The
problem is, it’s just as successful as the book in being really depressing.
Viggo Mortenson plays the harried, haggard Dad, trudging along a bleak,
gray landscape with shoulders hunched and head down and wary eyes scanning the
horizon for any possible danger to his son.
That, and any kind of food.
There’s been a cataclysmic disaster.
Civilization as we knew it is gone.
In its place are only vestiges: hulking
wrecks of automobiles. Abandoned
houses. Cities in ruins.
Everything is in disrepair. Nothing
works. No machines function.
The animals are all gone, too. Occasionally,
there are stray humans, who are themselves scavengers.
Sometimes, the men hunt in packs like ravenous wolves.
The women, if any, usually become victims.
Same with tender children. Yes,
in this daunting apocalypse even cannibalism has become a possibility for all
the grim-faced survivors of pandemic holocaust.
Nobody is happy. There is
no functioning society. There’s
no music, no dancing, no gaity, no social graces---just desperate slogging in
the rain, always on the move, as if “The Road” itself was the only
destination. What little hope
exists is flickering into extinction, as well.
That’s what happened to Mom. She
just couldn’t take the hopeless descent into barbarism anymore, and so she
just quietly slipped away into the darkness, never to be seen or heard from
If “The Road” is supposed to be an apocalyptic warning, it’s a
stark one. If it’s supposed to
be a metaphor for an emotional journey, it’s a grim one.
If it’s supposed to be a warning about what happens if we really do
haul off and destroy each other, it’s enough to make you weep to mourn our
oblivious stubbornness. Just as
Dad wept, once, upon seeing a piano, and thinking about how lovely it was when
his wife used to play. In the
end, all he had was his haunting memories, which he encouraged his son not to
entertain, lest they become too painful to bear.
For many genteel viewers, “The Road” will be too painful to bear,
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace