Jan 102011

Viggo Mortensen stars in The Road

There are spoilers coming. I’m sorry, but I just can’t write about this movie without discussing the end. And I should also apologize because it’s not exactly a Christmas movie. Or any other  holiday. Veterans Day, maybe. Especially since Saving Private Ryancan’t be shown anymore because it has soldiers swearing. Because, you know, that was such a shock.

Back t The Road. This has been on Showtime a bunch lately and has been on my mind ever since I first caught part of it a month ago. It took me that long to figure out what the heck it all meant. It could be that I’m just that slow, but I prefer to think that Cormac McCarthy is just that deep. And this movie has a lot going on.  It’s a post-apocalyptic story where the world has ended. It never really says how, which is a bummer. I always enjoy finding out how the world ends. This time all we know is that it’s grown cold, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. It ended. If it ended for real, that would probably be all I would care about too. A few people are still hanging on. One family, a man and a boy, is still alive in the north and they decide that they cannot survive another winter where they live. So they head down south. “The Road” is the story of their journey. 

As they travel south the man and boy encounter terrible thing after terrible thing. Most of the terrible things are done by people to other people in an effort to survive.  This includes cannabalism, which I think we will all agree is pretty gross. There are plenty of other gross things too. This is not what you would call a “happy pretty fun” movie. It is dark, it is depressing, and it is hard to watch. The only thing that is redeeming about the movie is the father’s love for his son. He does terrible things himself, all in an effort to keep his son alive.  Through all the terrible choices his motive never wavers: he will keep his son alive at all costs. The father trusts no one, helps no one, and cares for no one other than his son.  Then the father dies, and we are left to wonder how the boy will survive. It turns out that he pretty quickly meets some good, kind people who will share this journey with him. And that’s when it hit me:

Oh, crap. The dad was one of the bad guys.

 The father was willing to do anything to anyone to keep his son alive. While that is a motivation any of us would support, that can only go so far. At some point in his noble quest, he lost his moral compass. It is something which could happen to any of us as we strive for those we love. All of us can lose our way, just like this man did. All evil is rooted in good intentions. The Nazi’s really thought they were making the world a better place.  “The Road” is a wonderful story of love and a warning that how we live out our love must be guided by our morals and values or we risk becoming evil ourselves.  Like I said, not “happy pretty fun.”  But in light of our current political climate and the demonization that takes place on both sides of the political aisle, it is a warning that is very much needed.