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John Hillcoat: The Road Isn't a Downer

Published November 24, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of TWC
The Road Poster The Road
The big word out of screenings of The Road is that it’s so depressing. Well, yeah, it’s about the end of the world and a dark apocalyptic wasteland, but that’s part of the fun. The film’s director John Hillcoat agrees. He wasn’t making a downer.

John Hillcoat Talks The Road

“I guess to me they’re watching the backdrop,” Hillcoat said. “It’s like someone distracted by the scenery. They’re missing the whole point. All I can say is that it’s now the most translated book in modern times. So how did such a so-called dark, doomed piece reach a global of that scale? I’m not saying the movie’s going to do that but I’m just saying that actually that’s because it’s not about that.”

Cormac McCarthy wrote The Road. Actually, people had a similar reaction to his last movie, No Country for Old Men and that did all right. “Cormac said it’s a book about human goodness. Oprah obviously responded to the love story. A father and son, if you actually look at films, I was amazed at where do you see the love stories for fathers and sons? It’s mainly tyrannical fathers or absent fathers. The boy saves the man. He’s the moral compass. He takes the leap of faith. He’s saved. It’s the most moving story about human goodness that I’ve ever come across.”

That’s what triumph over adversity is all about. You’re supposed to see the good potential in bad situations. “To me, it’s just that drama is about conflict and the greater the obstacles, the more special that is, the more revealing that is. I think that’s why I get a little bit thrown by that interpretation but I can understand because it is harrowing. It’s everyone’s worst fear as a parent and as humans. It is so real and visceral. It’s not like a fantasy so I can understand how people can find that quite confronting, but I was hoping that it’s that emotional story, the human dimension is what really it’s about.”

It could have been worse. In the book they ate babies. “We tried. We all signed on and I said, ‘Look, we’re going to shy away from nothing. We’ve got to go for everything we can in this.’ In the original screenplay, of course there’s the controversial baby scene just as an example, and that’s something I was fighting for and saying, ‘We cannot shy away from this.’ I ended up fighting to say, ‘We have to get rid of this scene.’ It worked brilliantly by itself. It’s just in the film, this is the weird thing when you physicalize. That was one example where in the words, in your head, it had a real impact. When you see it, it’s like okay, so literal that it’s too much. If you hear about it, it’s chilling. If you see it… it’s like the best horror movies, often the monsters are not just up front.”

The Road opens to theaters on November 25th.

For the trailer and more movie info, go the The Road Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of TWC

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