Reviewed by: Ethan Samuel Rodgers
ANXIETY, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer
DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer
If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer
Death in the Bible
Anger in the Bible
Eternal death in the Bible
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer
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|Producer:|| Dimension Films
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|Distributor:||Dimension Films, a division of The Weinstein Company|
“In a moment, the world changed forever.”
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, author of No Country for Old Men
It’s the Christmas season: Carolers are patrolling neighborhoods, parents are battling unruly crowds at Wal-Mart and Best Buy, and children are finding it difficult to sleep at night, thinking only about what they’ll find under the Christmas tree. With all the commercialism and tradition in the air, movies that come out during this time of year (or that are played on a 24 hour loop on some basic cable channels) tend to be uplifting and joyous, and also serve a general message of togetherness and brotherly love tied neatly with a red bow of happiness. All of these factors have surely played a part in the latest adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize Winning novel, The Road, flying under the radar over the past month.
Although fraught with all the opposite feelings that are generally associated with the Christmas season, make no mistake, “The Road” is one of the holidays most moving and outstanding films.
What has taken place on our Earth is unknown. Certainly it happened some time ago, but whatever event shapes the premise of “The Road” is not explained or delved into, suffice it to say that the Earth is dead: all creatures, plants and life, excluding humans, have died. The Earth is plagued by fire and earthquakes, and is sputtering out her last breath. The year is unknown, as time is of no concern to those who have survived.
A Man (Viggo Mortensen) has only his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) for companionship on this barren Earth. The mother (Charlize Theron) is dead, and their only hope of surviving another cold winter is to head south for the coast. Along their way, lie bands of gangs searching for food who have resorted to cannibalism to survive, along with the dangers of the dying Earth that may prevent them from reaching their destination, and hope.
“The Road” is as real an “apocalypse film” as you will ever see. From a Christian standpoint, one can obviously look at the tale as fiction, but the character and social study that takes place throughout is simply astonishing. Themes that encompass the loss of faith in humanity and human nature itself are prevalent, along with the central theme that man, at his core, without true faith in something more than himself (God), is nothing more than an intelligent animal. Stripped bare, he is violent and savage. These are also masterfully coupled with the study of good amidst pure evil: hope, integrity and differentiating between good and evil are also prevalent and a main focal point in the story, and are found mainly in the person of the boy, who is innocent and still naïve, but aware of the evils of the world.
This helped make every dialogue, every exchange and every encounter real, and, in a sense, a true look at what man really is by contrasting Mortensen’s cynic view of reality that had been shaped over years of hopelessness and watching the evil of man sharply countered with the young boy’s view of reality, whose hope is to find the good inside of all people that may still exist, even in this world.
The way McCarthy tells the story is intense, to say the least. It’s likely that you’ll grip your chair in fear in nearly every scene, praying for the safety of the two travelers. McCarthy and Director John Hillcoat find ways to let your mind wander in horror over what men are willing to do to each other and, throughout the course of the film, convince you more and more that were something like this to happen, this would most likely be the end result of our sin nature.
As you watch the film, pay attention to your feelings toward other characters; you become more wary and less trusting of human nature after only an hour and a half in McCarthy’s world, a true measure of great story telling.
The film is rated “R” for language, violence and disturbing images. Language was fairly similar to “No Country for Old Men.” Sprinkled throughout are a couple f-words, a S#@! and a couple GD’s, but this certainly was not the reason for the R Rating. The ultimate reason behind this was the theme of suicide and, more so, cannibalism, which was quite prevalent in the film, as well as the idea behind it and the suggestion of it.
The force with which some scenes grab you is engrossing. Humans in this world literally have become either hunters or cattle, and those who are cattle are savagely hunted down and murdered for the survival of the strong and corrupt. It is truly a disconcerting spectacle to see humans treated in this manner, but it is meant to drive the point home that there is no grey area in who we are: men are either essentially good or essentially evil. When the pleasures and security of our society are taken away, men are one or the other. This struck me as particularly powerful to us as Christians. There is no “lukewarm,” there is hot, and there is cold. In McCarthy’s world, the line is defined purely and simply.
No one in the film is given a name, which I found curious, but believe it has much to do with the themes of the film. I thought that perhaps this firmly established that a name does not make a person and is not required for you to connect with them as something “real.” Our actions and what we do say and define who we are, not our names. I also believed this was done to further cement that in this post-apocalyptic world names are pointless, as men are animals. Cattle have no names, they’re meat. Why name them? In one scene, a man asks Mortensen if he is a doctor, to which he responds “I’m not anything.” Truly this is a theme of the film, as well.
The cinematography and direction of the film paired excellently with the tone and feel of the book and setting, as well. Grey, endless, almost hopeless landscapes with beautiful composition and muted colors continue frame after frame, broken only by the occasional bright contrasting flashbacks, truly emphasizing the argument that in many situations, one must fight against even one’s surroundings to keep hope. I found every moment of the film to be engaging, despite the small amount of dialogue, as Director John Hillcoat weaves a tale that could only be sullied by more words.
By now, I’m certain that the Christmas movie block-busters will blow “The Road” out of theaters and out of the minds of most audience members, but the Oscars will surely be where we see this film’s reemergence. Cormac McCarthy’s ability to delve into the human psyche and examine who we are and what we think is astonishing. He also is a master of letting your mind wander and create your own mental images of the sick and twisted things that he portrays man being capable of. Supported by outstanding on-screen chemistry and what may be two of the best, if not the best, performances I have witnessed on screen this year from Mortensen and Smit-McPhee that will inspire and move many to heart wrenching, uncontrollable tears, “The Road” is as far from a Christmas film as there may be this holiday season, but one of the best I’ve seen this year.
Though deeply disturbing and shockingly realistic, “The Road” is a real look at man and what hope truly is. For those that can stomach the ride and stand the intensity, I recommend you pass up Sherlock and Watson, prepare for an eye-opening look into human and, more importantly, sin nature.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.