Friday, December 25, 2009

An excellent screen adaptation of a great story

When I read Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Road, I was very impressed. So when I first heard that the book was being made into a movie, I was excited. But, after further reflection, I became concerned. I wasn't sure this story would translate well as a movie. Well, tonight I got to see the movie version of The Road and I am happy to report that I was wrong.

The Road is a parable of faith and generosity. It is set several years after a some sort of cataclysm has left the earth a very inhospitable place. At the center of the tale is an unnamed father and an unnamed son trying to survive in a very dangerous world in which people literally kill for food. The father seeks to protect the son and to teach him to stay alive. But in his desperate attempt to train the boy to get by in a cruel world, the father loses something very important.

On several occasions the father and son encounter persons in a weaker position they could help. The son always wants to assist those in need. The father resists. He is always afraid the can of food they share today might be all that stands between them and starvation in a few days. He has the best of intentions, but the father doesn't see that the little chances to share, as risky as they may be, are precious opportunities to experience some light in a very dark world.

I'll stop there in describing the story. All of the performances in the film version are outstanding. Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of the father is compelling. Kobi Smit-McPhee is convincing as the son. The visuals are bleak as they should be but they are also stunning.

I haven't told you much about the movie or the novel, but maybe what I have said is enough to entice you. I am concerned that the film version of The Road will be lost in the holiday movie season. If so, that would be a shame. This is a parable that needs to be experienced today.

I should point out that The Road is rated R--this is definitely not a family movie. But its darkness has the potential to help us see how we might better let our light shine. This story strips away everything in an attempt to expose the emptiness faithless lives.

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