Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Just how near is the apocalypse?
My screenings last week consisted of 2012, a CGI version of the next Noah's Art event. And Philadelphia Film's Society's filmadelphiaIndependent presentation of The Road, a bleak, cold look at the future after an unnamed cataclysmic occurrence on the earth. Then to top it off or seal the doom, my Bible study class focused on Matthew 24:4-28, where Jesus tells his disciples of all the end time miseries and destruction to come, "But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs".
One things for sure, if life continues after these "birth pangs" and its anything like The Road, then truly woe unto us all!
John Hillcoat has directed a poetic, thought evoking, yet unrelentingly despairing film about a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-Mcphee) who have survived after some catastrophic event has destroyed most every living thing and what's left are a few standing structures, and some bands of maundering cannibals. They set out on the road, heading to the coast, because it's the last instructions told to them by the wife/mother (Charlize Theron) before she walks coat-less into the cold night.
Have you ever waited over an hour for a bus during a cold, windy down pour, in uncomfortable shoes, carrying heavy bags, needing to go to the bathroom and eventually decide to start walking in hopes that the bus will still come? The whole time you're saying to yourself, "If I could just get home, get out of these wet things, put down these bags and make a cup of tea". Okay, so picture that image, double it times ten, and take away the part of ever reaching comfort; now you know how you'll feel if you go to see this film "The Road".
I wouldn't describe the film as being dull, there are a lot of tense moments and a good deal of gore, However, I can't imagine reading the novel the movie is based on by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses). No offense to this Pulitzer Prize winning author and those who admire his talent. But just the thought of trying to get through this book, gives me flashbacks of 6th grade when I was forced to read Jack London's Call of the Wild. I remember feeling like my teacher was a sadist and that it was her plan to torture me with boredom. I cried tears of protest every time I attempted to read even a page. Funny, I can't remember if I ever got through it...
What was interesting about The Road was having the Visual Effects Supervisor, Mark Forker from Dive in attendance for the Q&A. A good portion of the film was filmed in Pennsylvania (more due to tax credits than visual landscape) Dive did much of the post-production work. Forker takes pride in the fact that primarily the visual effects of this film consist of effects the viewer shouldn't notice; photographic things like adding snow, ash, cold breath, removing any traces of sun; even filming in winter didn't make an austere enough background to capture the desolation. The visual effects were worked on for 6 months after filming wrapped. It was important that it not look like other disaster films like 2012, since the film is set post-apocalyptic, not as the event is happening.
Forker was able to speak for the absent filmmakers when an audience member commented on the depressing nature of the film. He answered, "At its core, the film is a love story between a father and a son, it's really a story of hope."
Rating Pretty Middle Toe