Trailer for movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road


Here's the trailer for the movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleakly horrific, post-apocalyptic novel The Road. It looks mighty grim. I'll be first in line to see it on November 25.

The Road trailer


  1. This is an amazing book. Can not wait for the movie, although I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be a bit of a let down. For one the man’s wife has no part in the book but according to the preview she is at least somewhat present in the story. Also the book is such a silent story with very little dialog but there is almost no way to make a movie like that styled for main stream consumption.

  2. Seconded! Very keen to see it.

    I am wondering if they’re going to be true to the book’s ending, though. I’m not sure how that’d fly with audiences. (vagueity vague! No spoilery badness here. But those who’ve read it probably know what I mean).

  3. The book made no mention of why the world had been destroyed. It seemed nuclear because there was ash everywhere.

    Also, it was only the man and the boy.

    Just saying, they didn’t need to make it any scarier.

  4. Esquire did a pretty in-depth piece on the film and the writer said it maintains the story and ending. The wife character is used sparingly, only a bit more than in the book. If anything, that’s a bit of an improvement to me, as I think it makes the father/son story all that more compelling.

    This is one of my favorite author’s best books done by an amazing director (Have you seen “The Proposal”? Because you should. Right now.) who really seems to get it. Cannot wait.

  5. Mmm, loved the book but the trailer suggests a fair amount of deviation from the plot, not just in relation to the “wife” but in relation to the need for all that killing, fighting and so forth. Sure there was some of it, but nothing like the amount the trailer indicates.

  6. I’ll go and see it for sure, as the book was stunning. But there are still far too many colours in it judging by the trailer. Everything is grey ash in the book. This helped to enhance the importance of the few things they found that were useable in the landscape….

  7. I read the book and enjoyed it. I’m a sucker for anything “post-apocalyptic”. I can’t help but evaluate my friends, possessions… even my dog about their durability and utility in a world after the breakdown of society.

  8. I read the book. It was well-written, but it was a deeply depressing experience, utterly grim, unrelieved hopelessness that will stomp on your heart. Almost every hope that is raised is crushed, to the point where I wasn’t convinced by the element of hope raised at the end (won’t say more because it would be a spoiler). I can’t imagine wanting to see a film of it.

    The wife is a real presence in the book, even though she’s no longer alive; many memories refer to her. So I would expect a film to show her.

  9. I’ll join the chorus of people who loved the book but are somewhat fearful about the movie. It also made it look as though the wife is on the road with the father and son, but the father-son dynamic is so strong in the book with just the two of them. I hope they don’t muck it up too much in some weird attempt at making it more mainstream.

    Not that I won’t see it anyway.

  10. I just hope they don’t drop the cabaret dream sequence. Although I bet Viggo can tap with the best of them.

  11. Although a McCarthy fan I admit to getting about 150 pages into this book then checking the last paragraph to make sure that there was a least a pin prick of light at the end of the tunnel. Without that knowledge I don’t think I could have completed it.

    I’m not sure how some scenes can be pulled off in a movie adaptation and get even an NC rating though? My comment from the trailer was that they all seemed to be too well-fed and well-dressed.

  12. I loved this book, and am not a big reader. I had never heard of Cormac McCarthy – other than the Coen Brothers movie. But I read the book so different than anyone here. The bleakness was just the background to a story about a father and a son. They way I put it to a friend right after finishing the book was “if you want to know what it FEELS like to be a father to a son, or a son to a father you should read this book”


    While the post-apocalyptic bleakness was essential to the book, and it was bleak, I don’t think that was what the book was “about” – thats why it ended the way it did, it had to end emotionally the way a father’s relationship with a son should end, I will say no more as to not spoil anything.

  13. Those hoping the movie might actually be true to McCarthy’s vision might want to avoid reading the website’s synopsis which is as typical Hollywood hyperbole as you could find.

    I stopped at “Star Studded Cast!”

  14. Having read the book (and loved it) I doubt I’ll see the movie. The book was so incredibly draining and bleak – I had to go for a long walk in the sunshine with my daughter after finishing it.

    If the movie is anywhere near as heavy as the book – I don’t need to go through that a second time.

  15. I liked the book, but didn’t love it. I certainly appreciate the spartan aesthetic of McCarthy, though I think with this book is even more of a challenge to translate to the big screen. And with the heavy handed environmental message and other derivations indicated by the trailer, I can only imagine I’ll be less excited about the movie than I was the book. I’ll wait for the DVD.

  16. Unfortunately this trailer is cut in the style of most-other-trailers: Super Hype Pow! It comes off as an action adventure flick…. not the slow beautiful drip that is the book. Hopefully the filmmaker has better sense than the marketing goons.

  17. @11 Joe:

    Damn you! I felt the ending was ambiguous when I finished reading it a month or so ago, but that ambiguity had faded in my memory. And now that I think about it more closely, I realize just how wide open the ending is…

    The movie doesn’t even have to do anything extra-textual at the ending to have a big lean one way or the other. A few tender shots and some warm music can point in one direction, some silhouetted figures and ominous clouds could point in another direction entirely.

  18. The Nov 25 release date was chosen by the marketing department for that FEEL GOOD holiday movie vibe. YEAH!!

    I can’t remember the last book adaptation movie I read/saw. I guess the LOTR series but it had been so long between the books and the movies that I barely remembered what the story was. Can the movie be as good as the book? I sure hope so. It can’t be as bad as Battlefield Earth (great book, god-awful movie).

    There’s not much dialogue in The Road but think Cast Away. I think the narrative will speak well on-screen. They put another year into the post-production of this (was set for Oct 08 release and then beeooooo).

    If The Proposition is any indicator of what John Hillcoat can do as a director I have high hopes indeed!

  19. One thing to say about the book, and by extension (apparently) the film: Relentless does not equal profound.

    Unfortunately a lot of people get the two confused.

  20. It’s a terrible book. Sorry. Maybe I’m some kind of crazy-person for not appreciating it, but the entire story of the book sums to: things are good, now things are bad, now things are ok again, now things are bad again, now things are good, not things are ok, now things are looking up! Now they’re not.” There’s no story arc, it’s just a sawtooth-looking thing. There’s no background to what caused the disaster. There’s one incredibly implausible event that I couldn’t overcome suspension of disbelief over.

    And what’s with the mention of Coke as the only brand? I swear Coke paid him for product placement. WTF! Everything in the book is completely generic, except Coke, which is mentioned by name several times!

  21. In a lot of ways, I found it less bleak than any of the Border Trilogy. At the very least, it supports the barest sliver of moral absolutes – don’t eat people – even in a world that may be devoid of hope.

    I was reminded of Peter Bagge’s American Nerd, wherein a nuclear apocalypse causes all of humanity to become amoral, murderous bastards. The Road was a good antidote to that pile of dung.

    Hillcoat’s Proposition was okay, but his earlier film Ghosts of the Civil Dead, about the increasing of security at a supermax prison, is phenomenal and completely terrifying. Plus he always makes room in his movies for Nick Cave, which is a big plus in my book.

  22. all the interviews i have read seem to indicate that hillcoat is sticking as close to the book as possible. and if anyone can do bleak and depressing its him. see ghosts of the civil dead and the proposition for evidence.

    the marketing for this is amazing, its like they are trying to get the action/scifi fans in who made i am legend heaps of $$$.

    if this movie is half as sad/depressing or scary as the book, a lot of people are going to be in for a surprise…

    and i’m really looking forward to cave and ellis’s soundtrack. the work they did for the proposition and the assassination of jesse james were amazing.

  23. Saw this film at the Telluride Film Festival and all I’m gonna say is that while it maintains almost everything from the book it felt that something was lost in translation. And yes, some of the stuff in the trailer isn’t even IN the movie. I thought Viggo was great, I hated the boy, and Robert Duvall in a 5-min cameo as the old man is absolutely Oscar-worthy. But again, something was lost in translation. It’s not great but it’s not bad.

  24. As far as post-apocalyptic goes, I was much more impressed with A Canticle for Leibowitz than with The Road.

  25. I get a little tired of every trailer having to be full of fades to black. I guess that’s to create the ‘tease’ effect.

  26. Anyone see the Discovery series “The Colony?” It just ended, but you can watch some episodes on and iTunes.

    Follows 10 “survivors” for two months as they hole up in a warehouse in post-apocalyptic LA.

    There were echoes of The Road throughout. All in all a wonderful series.

  27. “I’m depressed enough.”

    Why?? It’s pure fantasy. The world is not coming to an end. We are not facing a Mad Max future or variants thereof. Things will get bad but it won’t be near as horrible as the Liberals fear nor as inconsequential as the Right desires.

    Remember last year about this time?? Or did you all forget? Did the world collapse? Many people were loudly proclaiming DOOM!! DOOM!!!

    Did it happen?


    Why? Because we don’t know shit. You see, people get afraid, then they construct these fantasies based on their half-baked fears. Eventually these constructed realities, you know, like “The Free Market is self regulating”, come crashing down. Things get bad but not THAT bad.

    Actually a crisis is a good thing. It represents an opening in social reality, a chance for movement towards something better, hopefully.

    See? I can be positive.

  28. McCarthy’s work is incredibly allegorical. Take that in mind for those of you upset over the fact the story does not blatantly reveal the source of the catastrophic event. I detest most fiction published in the 21st century, except for this novel. Unlike that vast majority of wishy-washy everything is grey literature – this is one of the few authors who is willing to draw a line in the sand. This novel signifies the end of post-modernist ambivalence and hipsterism. It is a reminder to our infantilized – Peter Pan society to man up and bring some sensibility to this world. Read it and weep!

  29. I can’t believe no one else noticed that they didn’t even finish the movie! Watch the trailer again, about 30 seconds in (the scene that the screen capture was taken for the pic on the article) notice how the building is on fire. Now notice how the fire DOES NOT MOVE! They held back the release on this for A YEAR and they didn’t FIX THE FIRE! Isn’t that like the whole moral of the story, “Hold the fire,” or something… “Keep the fire?”
    Keep the fire MOVING should be the new catchphrase. That makes me a little hesitant.

  30. This movie looks like unimaginative drivel, maybe I’ll be surprised though. It’s too bad that this will probably ruin a great literary work for so many people.

    #16 got it right, the book is a touching expression of paternal love.

    Probably doesn’t speak well about my mental state, but when I read it I envisioned something much much darker than the preview makes this appear. I imagined the baddies to be much more stylized and removed from our culture than the greasy rednecks in the preview.

  31. Not expecting much from this–and I’ll probably wait to Netflix it. Despite Viggo’s appeal, he’s never shown with any consistency that he has the chops to carry a movie. And the fact that it’s been held back by the studios for a very long time doesn’t inspire confidence that it’s going to be much more than a waste of my time and (more importantly) my money.

  32. I’m sure it’s not thematically similar, though I’m so wed to Fallout 3 that I’d be consciously and unconsciously comparing the two.

  33. The developers at Bethesda Game Studios have mentioned in interviews that this novel was a major influence on them for their work on Fallout 3. I’ll probably be checking this film out to compare and contrast.

  34. Or zombie analogs at least.
    Now I want to see a movie adaption of Fallout 3, just following the main quest from start to finish.

  35. @43 Zergonapal. Google “The Book of Eli” with Denzel Washington. It’s out in January. It’s the closest to fallout we’ll get.

  36. Was it just me or did the shot of the tunnel entrance near the beginning of the trailer look _exactly_ like the one from Left 4 Dead?

  37. If they hold on to the moment where the father looks at the well-wrought ship’s compass (or telescope? whatever) onboard the wrecked boat–the part where the narrator says something like “This was the happiest he’d been since the whole thing started: a beautiful thing unruined,” yadda yadda–then I’ll be happy. Just a silent shot for 10 seconds or so, Viggo handling the thing over and over, a slight smile, cut. That will be sweet, and enough to make Charlize and the new mega-gunshots and violence version palatable.

    Still waiting for Ridley Scott’s Blood Meridian, which will undoubtedly blow this away. And a non-sucky adaptation by a single directer of the Border Trilogy would be great, especially The Crossing, which cycles effortlessly between family narrative, revenge story, and full-on Western myth: my favorite McCarthy, I’d really like to see a three-hour version of this one.

    For those complaining about the book’s structure: it’s called picaresque, from Renaissance Spanish stories about outlaws and rogue knights. One damn thing after another, low comedy, battles, escapes, etc.: McCarthy’s obviously responding to this tradition, hence the rollercoaster plot. Would you really want to read a novel with the dad and the kid snug in the food-stocked bombshelter for hundreds of pages? It’s a contrivance, sure, but one with a durable literary pedigree, and one that McCarthy adapts perfectly to the postmodern postapocalypse story.

  38. btw, not really a spoiler, but from what I understand, it’s strongly implied that the disaster that caused the end of the world is an asteroid impact.
    That would explain everything.

  39. The trailer actually looks a bit more upbeat and colorful than the book.

    The book barely touched on what caused the devastation. The beginning of the trailer looked like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow which is disappointing. Hopefully they won’t try to schmaltz it up with that too much.

  40. “Relentless does not equal profound.”

    There’s a lot more to the book than simply relentless violence.

    The Road is a walk through the park compared to Blood Meridian (which is also being adapted into a movie.)

  41. I hadn’t heard that Blood Meridian was being made…good luck with a faithful R-rated adaption on that one.

  42. I saw the movie a few weeks ago at TIFF. This trailer is a terrible representation of it.

    There are none of the “causes” of the devastation shown. No tornadoes or riot police or collapsing ice or any of that. The reason is never given in the movie. That’s pure trailer crap.

    The office building on fire? Not in the movie.

    Charlize? Only shown in flashbacks in the movie, and sparingly.

    There are other short cuts and scenes in the trailer that aren’t in the film as well, but they’re fairly minor.

    There’s also minimal action. The trailer makes it look like it’s a non-stop battle against people. Most of the film is just the man and boy trying to get to the next day, occasionally interrupted with something dreadful. And yes, there are long periods of silence.

    And the ending? Still ambiguous.

    The trailer’s terrible for two reasons – 1) It annoys those who loved the book because it looks “Hollywood action”. 2) Those who don’t know what they’re in for will be getting a VERY different film than they’d expect from the trailer.

    It’s a great film, Hillcoat did a great job, as did the actors. McCarthy was on set numerous times and likes the film. Hillcoat said at the screening that after seeing the completed project, McCarthy said he didn’t feel anything was missing. Although I’m sure there’s at least one part of the book that’s not in the movie that will annoy some readers, the movie as a whole still succeeds.

  43. @Astin I just read the book this summer and I am glad the trailer is the misleading part. As is I figured the book would be a hard sell to Hollywood with the dialogue driven nature of the book.

  44. Whoever said Viggo couldn’t carry a whole movie, have you seen A History of Violence?

    Also, this is supposedly his last film for at least a little while, so I hope it’s good. That moment where he was touching the ring made me thought of LOTR, heh.

    Also, at about 4/5 of the trailer, right before the word “Protect” pops up, Viggo pulls on a guy and he falls down, you can hear a certain scream. It’s not the Wilheim scream, but I know I’ve heard it just as much. Anybody has any idea?

  45. I’ve gotten used to being the only person in the world – and a McCarthy fan at that – who hates “The Road.”

    The idea of a novel-length allegory grates on my nerves enough as it is. Add in a huge dollop of “total logical fail at every level,” and slather in glurge. (From Cormac McCarthy! Glurge, people! What the what?) Man, that book is terrible. Inexplicably so.

    I’m so tired of getting hate mail for expressing my opinion, I’m posting this anonymously.

  46. A friend of mine and I have been exchanging post-apocalyptic and doomsday literature for a bit, and Cormac’s book was the first one he gave me (I gave him The Giver and something else…maybe Nevil Schute’s On the Beach?).

    His wife emailed me recently asking a question about Z for Zechariah, and I really had to think for a second what the defining element of post-apocalyptic literature is – because this friend and his wife disagreed on the ending; was it good, or bad?

    I really think that the heart of post-apocalyptic lit (or movies, or games), and why it fascinates us, is the central question of whether people are essentially “good” or “evil” (by a very generic standard of “cautiously benevolent” vs. “savagely selfish”). When people are struggling for survival, will they be altruistic or selfish? This is really, I think, a major theme (if not THE major theme) in McCarthy’s book – it’s really explicit, too, as the critical moment in every encounter for the man and his father is the point at which they realize / decide whether the people they meet are “good guys” or “bad guys,” and what they choose to do about it.

    I’m interested in seeing this to see the movie’s take on the book…I can’t say I “enjoyed” the book per se (as “fun”, but then I don’t think “fun” should be the deciding factor in art), but it was pretty interesting and made me think.

  47. The book was tremendously bleak but very well written. I read it over several weeks and an hour at a time when I was at lunch. I still can’t go to Panda Express without feelings of hopelessness and despair welling up (perhaps that’s more about the restaurant than the book, though). I must say the author really sucked you into that world. That said, I have no wish to revisit it. Truly the most depressing thing I think I’ve ever read.

    Also, @27 as to Coke being generic, I believe it was implied that their journey was across the southern US to get to the Gulf Coast. I can assure you “coke” in that area of the country is used as generically as soda to indicate a carbonated beverage.

  48. Anonymous: “The book made no mention of why the world had been destroyed.”

    In the book, Nuclear war was alluded to in the flashbacks:

    – Reference to multiple flashes and booms over the horizon nuclear explosions.

    – A further reference to the protagonist reacting to these booms by “Filling the bathtub with water” – A recommended emergency response in case of nukes falling.

    As for the movie: The book was depressing enough. I did not know it was possible to write words that could evoke such misery in the reader. While the author probably deserves a literary award, I definitely won’t be sitting through that nightmare again.

  49. I’m watching the trailer on youtube and… is that a product placement? The kid is really excited about a coke can it seems. I think I vaguely remember this being in the book mind you, but still… a bit bad taste perhaps.

  50. @38 In regards to the non-moving fire in the building, seen in the screenshot above…look real closely at that section in the trailer. It’s not fire itself that you see but the light from a fire deeper in the building reflecting off the floor’s ceiling.
    You can just see the flickering indicating the reflection of fire, not fire itself.

  51. What caused the world’s destruction was never explained in the book, and that missing details always bugged me.

    I don’t believe it was nuclear. There was no mention or description of any radiation sickness symptoms. No sores, teeth falling out, vomiting, etc.

    In my opinion, the extensive fires, ash, cloud-cover and weather pattern disruptions (“cold enough to crack stone”) but no explicit mention of radiation sickness points to a natural disaster such as a Yellowstone super-volcano eruption or a large meteor strike. Dumping ash over half of North America would cause that scale of destruction.

  52. @57 I think you are talking about the Not-the-Wilhelm-Scream Scream, also affectionately known Youraggh!

  53. Not to be a stickler; I know the story is allegorical (and I found it quite powerful – enjoy is hardly appropriate), but I did note one big technical flaw.

    Forget the rickets that the father was worried about when he was hunting for vitamins. If people really had no fresh veggies or raw animal (not human) meat to survive on they would have been long dead from scurvy.

    Champlain’s account doesn’t mention the nervous effects – some victims went into convulsions and died at the sound of a loud noise or gunshot. But that and having your gums swell so much they have to be cut out of your mouth is a match for any horror story as I can imagine

    And #32, funny- I thought of Liebowitz too. It has been a few decades since I read it – but if I remember it correctly, a shipload of celibate monks also seems like a bit of a dead end end to me.

  54. …actually I just double-checked Liebowitz and realized they were heading for colonies that already existed. Oops.

    I did note one mention in The Road of a bit of living vegetation, and I wondered what the creature they saw at the beginning of the book was.

    Again, I don’t want to take away from the allegorical nature of the story, but one would think at least there would be lots and lots of insects to eat, especially with their predators gone.

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