Thursday, November 12, 2009
A father and his young son walk alone through the ravaged landscape of America after it has ceased being anything but a burnt husk. Buildings, homes and cars have been destroyed or abandoned, the trees and earth are stripped of any sign of vegetation, and it is cold, terribly cold. No reason is given for the catastrophe that has transformed the world into this bleak terrain, but it's clear it has been like this for some time. The Man and the Boy have nothing but the clothes they are wearing, a pistol with two bullets and most important, each other. So begins the film, The Road.
The remaining population has been reduced to savage survivalists, the stronger will take from the weaker, possibly using them as food. The Man (Viggo Mortensen) and the Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) make their way south; although it is uncertain what they may find, it provides a purpose in their long days of bitter weather and homelessness. Occasionally, a memory flickers of life before the darkness; we see the mother (Charlize Theron) in these flashbacks, and know that there is even more missing in their lives.
There are now many titles that portray the world post-apocalypse. The sci-fi versions (28 Days Later, Terminator, Zombieland, I Am Legend) and the action versions (The Day After, Independence Day. 2012) entertain the audience with pesky zombies or robots, mutant diseases or the spectacle of a toppled Eiffel Tower or wrecked White House. The Road is a profound meditation of a future beyond all of that. After humanity has been leveled of the things that divide and separate us; wealth, possessions, status, and citizenship, what remains? We have seen time and again the principles worth dying for, but more complex, what in essence is worth living for?
The Road, directed by John Hillcoat, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy is scheduled for release November 25.