Saturday, December 1, 2012


There are two types of post-apocalyptic fiction: the "fight for survival" type and the "all hope is lost" type. Sometimes the two types merge but either way, you can bet it'll be as bleak as it can be.

Just look at The Road. Depicting the aftermath of an unknown cataclysm, the story chronicles the flicker of hope among the few survivors. To be honest, not many stories with post-apocalyptic themes tend to focus on that.

Cormac McCarthy's novel is possibly the bleakest piece of literature out there. What makes his writing so unsettling is that McCarthy doesn't go into grand detail when describing things. He leaves everything to the reader's imagination.

John Hillcoat's film manages to keep the spirit of McCarthy's novel intact. Its star Viggo Mortensen is ideally cast here. (I admire actors who display immense subtly.) The even bleaker backdrop makes the complete transition from page to screen.

That said, both the novel and the film are vastly different in regards with presentation. McCarthy's novel is more devoted to the vast bleakness reality has become. Hillcoat's film, which omitted a few scenes from the novel, focuses more on the sentiment between father and son, To me, it's evident as to which of the two is better. (But both are quite good.)

What's worth checking out?: The book.


  1. I agree. The sparseness of the book makes it far more harrowing and I think actually enhances the father/son relationship more because of how bleak the world is.

    I think the film does an admirable job trying to capture that spirit, but the novel is just astoundingly well-written that it's no contest.

  2. Yes, I agree too.

    I rattled through the book. Even though it is sparse and challenging and occasionally so bleak it's breathless, I found it exciting and involving and I invested in both characters.

    The film I found a bit of a chore. I think it might be the case that McCarthy's words had done such a good job of creating a vision of this new world that no imagery was ever going to match that, for me. I also think Hillcoat's pacing was out by some way. The book may be slow of plot but the movement between 'scenes' is much, much quicker in relative terms than in the film.

  3. Just came across your blog, this is a great idea for a post. I recently enoyed reading McCarthy's Blood Meridian and I quite enjoyed the film adaptation of The Road so it sounds as though I should read the book now. Speaking of which, books are usually considered better than their film adaptations but if you had the choice of reading a book or watching the film adaptation first which would you choose?


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