Saturday, November 28, 2009

"The Road" -- much less traveled -- until the nuclear winter after a supervolcano

The “November month of death” season movie has a second apocalypse, “The Road”, directed by John Hillcoat, from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, adapted by Joe Penhall. The film is a joint effort of the Weinstein Company (through its Dimension Films) and of Mark Cuban’s Magnolia Pictures/2929. It’s filmed on location in Pennsylvania (there’s a critical early scene that appears to be at the old Sideling Hill Tunnel, no longer used by the Pennsylvania Turnpike [it also looks like a tunnel on the Sparta bicycle trail in hilly Southwestern Wisconsin), Louisiana, and Oregon, with some shots near Mt. St. Helens (showing the blown down, denuded trees), giving a clue as to the cause of the calamity. The movie is shot in sepia tones of mostly brown and gray; many scenes seem to be almost pure black-and-white (which is very effective, giving the “Dimension” film a zombie, “Night of the Living Dead” effect).

The opening scene of the film shows an outdoor hammock outside a family home among spring greenery. Suddenly the Man (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife (Charlize Theron) notice booms outside, and the Wife asks the first lines of the script, “What’s happening?” (a reference to M. Night Shyamalan). Then we are transported to sometime, perhaps years later, when the Man is with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who was apparently born after the apocalypse in another harrowing flashback.

The disaster is unnamed, but it seems to fit the pattern of a really big supervolcano eruption, leading to a years-long “nuclear winter” with the die-off of almost everything (a few insects and birds start coming back toward the end). But apparently really cacophonous super-earthquakes roll around the world for years – I don’t know if they really would (the magma chamber area around Yellowstone would give off quakes). Maybe the calamity was caused by a 2012-like astronomical alignment, or maybe by a passing small black hole or transiting brown dwarf. It could not be prevented. In any case, the outcome is much more realistic and less promising than that of “2012.”

The “road” journey of the Man and Boy gets desperate, with the Boy asking what makes for the “good people,” especially not engaging in cannibalism.
The official website is here. The Weinstein Company is one of the few studios that offers embed code right on its site.

The 4:20 PM show Saturday at a large auditorium in the modern National Amusements Cinema De Luxe in Fairfax Square, VA was about 2/3 full.

First picture above: Mississippi coast, Bay St. Louis, Feb. 2006 (my picture), after Katrina

Wikipedia attribution link of David Johnston p.d. photo before his death in Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980.

Update: April 17, 2015

I visited the Sideling Hill areas.

Here is the Wikipedia picture of abandoned Sideling Hill tunnel by Jgera5. public domain, link.
Here us a picture of the ridge, "down the road",  For logistical reasons, I didn't actually reach the tunnel yesterday. But the tunnel is in the ridge at the end of the road.

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