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The Road To God Knows Where
The dream team of Cormac McCarthy, Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat have re-united for a screen adaptation of McCarthy’s novel The Road.
Tara Brady, 11 Dec 2009
It hasn’t been a sterling year for Irish film, but if we need to make up the numbers, between author Cormac McCarthy, direction by John Hillcoat and a score by Nick Cave, the filmmaker insists that we’re allowed to include The Road among our tally.
“Cormac is a southern gentleman in so many respects,” says Mr. Hillcoat. “But if it wasn’t for the accent, you’d swear he was Irish. He’s a real raconteur. He’s full of ideas. He’ll go anywhere and he’ll talk to anyone. Then you have Nick Cave, another honorary Irishman – all words, language, and flamboyant character – and me. I’ve got some Irish in me. Thank God.”
The director of such sublime, thoughtful works as Ghosts of the Civil Dead and The Proposition is only half kidding. He genuinely sees the blockbuster source novel as part of a larger canon of Hibernian, albeit Diasporic literature.
“It’s all in the words,” he tells me, hours before his latest film premieres to excellent notices at the London Film Festival. “Like Russia, and Spain a little bit, Ireland is a country that suffered incredible loss. The Irish are attuned to what loss actually means. Other nationalities can’t reach those depths so easily. And like those Russian writers, there’s no fear or snobbishness attached to expression or to art. Culture is far more integrated into mainstream culture and life. People are not afraid to sing out.”
Born in Queensland, Australia, and raised in Ontario, the 48 year-old filmmaker has long posseessed a talent worth attending to. As a child, his paintings were hanging in the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Canada. In his twenties, he made various artistic debuts as the documentarian behind INXS: Swing and Other Stories, as a pop promo wunderkind and as a feature film director with 1988’s highly regarded Ghosts of the Civil Dead. He has worked with just about anyone you can think of – Depeche Mode, Gemma Hayes – but is best known for his collaborations with Nick Cave.
Predictably, Hillcoat’s magnificent, tactile screen adaptation of The Road, for which Mr. Cave (working with Warren Ellis) provided the music, does not shy away from the gloomier aspects of McCarthy’s source novel. What is it about these gentlemen and gloom, I wonder?