Saw the movie, had to read the book.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy is the story a man and his son, escaping the wintry north in a post-apocalyptic world.
The world is dying in all possible ways – the land, the animals, the people and the humanity of people. How can the man and his son survive and keep their humanity at the same time? With nothing left to eat, many people are driven to use other people to use as food stocks. It’s easy to imagine this really happening in the same circumstances.
I was interested to see how the book managed to portray the depth of the bond between the father and son and also the bleak, eerie landscape.
The film was shot with different lenses to make the world hazy, dark and desolate – which deftly shows the horrific emptiness.
In the book, the man and boy are referred to as simply that – man and boy. They could be any parent and child.
They went back up the hill and made their camp in the dry dirt under the rocks and the man sat with his arms around the boy trying to warm him. Wrapped in the blankets, watching the nameless dark come to enshroud them.
The writing lends a deceptively simple rhythm to the story – sparse but intense. There is nothing good left in the world – just destroyed forests and a smoky sky, and people who will sacrifice anything to survive another day. The dark is ‘nameless’, just as the boy and man are nameless in the story. The world has changed – has lost its names and streets and cities. The trees are ‘charred and limbless’. The shape of a city ‘stood in grayness like a charcoal drawing sketched across the waste.’
The man and boy speak little. They’re on a journey and the risks and hardships are enormous. When the father speaks in the beginning, it’s very short and to the point – ‘Yes, he said. I can’ and ‘Yes, the man said. I know.’ But at the same time, the fondness for the boy are in the words.
The father keeps going for the son. The boy is his only hope and light in the darkness. He says of the boy, ‘If he is not the word of God God never spoke.’ It’s a beautiful line that expresses how the father sees the boy.
With these images and ideas, McCarthy has described the world and story that became the bleakly atmospheric film. It’s all there in the book and the film followed it faithfully.
I loved both the film and the book – very much modern classics.