One of the most anticipated movies of 2009 — at least, ’round here at Opus HQ — is John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Earlier this week, Esquire ran a review of the film, calling it “the most important movie of the year.” And now, the film’s first trailer has arrived online, and I have mixed feelings.
The trailer shows that the filmmakers have certainly captured the devastation and worldwide cataclysm — I dig the huge shot of the ruined city around the 0:23 mark. But at the same time, the trailer — with its rapid editing and pounding score — makes the film look like little more than a generic survival action/adventure piece, which the book is most assuredly not.
Furthermore, the trailer conveys little of the novel’s grimly beautiful poetry, but focuses primarily on the devastation and even hints at its cause(s). (The novel never explains what caused the worldwide cataclysm that has left humanity in a lurch, which only makes the story stronger and more haunting.) So I hope these added little bits stay in the trailer, and don’t represent the film’s content.
Ultimately, I think we’re seeing a movie studio’s typical marketing approach to material that is challenging — and believe me, if Hillcoat was even remotely faithful to the novel, the movie is going to be very challenging. So if you’ve never read the book, and this trailer is your first real exposure to The Road, take it with a grain of salt and know that while the trailer gets some things right, there’s a lot there that is, shall we say, misleading. Oh, and read the book while you wait for the movie to come out October 16.