Posted on Saturday, November 14th, 2009 by Russ Fischer
Author Cormac McCarthy gives very few interviews. So when he does sit down and talk with someone, the result is usually worth a look. Now, as the film version of his novel The Road is rolling out, McCarthy and director John Hillcoat have done a few brief talks. It’s really McCarthy’s show, as Hillcoat just interjects a question or observation here and there. After the break, check out what the reclusive author has to say about the film version of All the Pretty Horses, the potential movie of Blood Meridian, and the end of the world.
The Wall St. Journal talked to McCarthy about his life, his work and outlook on existence. But let’s do the strictly film-related stuff first. There is a possible film adaptation of the violent and grim Blood Meridian in the offing, once with Ridley Scott directing, now with Todd Field writing and directing. That is, if a screenplay can be assembled from the novel’s collection of odd characters and incidents. With respect to Blood Meridian being an impossible adaptation, McCarthy is dismissive:
That’s all crap. The fact that’s it’s a bleak and bloody story has nothing to do with whether or not you can put it on the screen. That’s not the issue. The issue is it would be very difficult to do and would require someone with a bountiful imagination and a lot of balls. But the payoff could be extraordinary.
He also doesn’t pull punches when talking about previous adaptations of his work. Not that he seems to actively dislike Billy Bob Thornton’s adaptation of All the Pretty Horses, but he’s not in love with it, either.
It could’ve been better. As it stands today it could be cut and made into a pretty good movie. The director had the notion that he could put the entire book up on the screen. Well, you can’t do that. You have to pick out the story that you want to tell and put that on the screen. And so he made this four-hour film and then he found that if he was actually going to get it released, he would have to cut it down to two hours.
There’s a lot more in the interview, and I recommend the whole thing. In an age of would-be celebrities that fawn at the media and spew rote positive bullshit just so they don’t accidentally make anyone mad, McCarthy feels like an amazing breath of fresh air. You’ve got to love a guy who creates stories for a living who is this pessimistic about where the glut of media is taking us:
Just the appalling volume of artifacts [like movies, etc.] will erase all meaning that they could ever possibly have. But we probably won’t get that far anyway.