“The Road”
 
            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 again.
            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, as well.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas