EXCLUSIVE! A little over a week ago Screen Rant posted the first trailer for The Road, the cinematic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. As a serious McCarthy fan, I was a very disappointed in how the trailer (I felt) misrepresented what The Road is all about; it tried to sell the film as a post-apocalyptic action thriller, instead of the poignant look at the bond between father and son it truly is.
Well my complaints struck pay dirt: A reliable source confirms that the studio producing the film (The Weinstein Company) pulled out some dirty PR tricks to sell The Road to a wide audience - even going so far as to tamper with the first trailer, splicing in stock disaster footage that doesn't even appear in the finished movie!
If you haven't yet watched the first trailer for The Road you need to do so now.
The "spliced footage" I'm referring to appears at the very start of the trailer - it's the news footage of floods, fires, tornadoes, riots, etc., which appear in conjunction with the tagline, "Ten Years From Now One Event Will Change The Face Of The Planet." Yeah, apparently none of that footage is in the film and the characters aren't even watching it on TV. It's all just clever editing.
If you've never read a page of The Road, you probably see the beginning of that trailer and think "End of the world action thriller. Cool." If you indeed had that reaction, consider yourself officially misled.
Here's a dose of the truth: The film version of The Road adheres pretty closely to the novel (with a few choice liberties taken here and there). In the novel, there is never any explanation of what event(s) turned America into a desolate wasteland. When the story begins, The Man (Viggo Mortensen) and The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) are simply walking on the road across the annihilated landscape and that's as much background as we get. There is no preachy message about the environment or nuclear war or human relations - no subversive political or religious metaphor. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic hell mainly because that setting is the most extreme contrast to the guarded and filtered reality in which most parents try and raise their kids.
Of course I understand that for a lot moviegoers (especially those who love the post-apocalyptic genre), the notion of a desolate world that's never explained could be kind of a turn-off. But splicing random stock footage into the trailer, trying to sell a story that the film doesn't tell? What's the point in that? Why not just show what the film is truly about and let it reach people on its own merit? Especially since the finished film (according to our reliable source) "is brilliant!!"
I would have loved for the trailer to highlight the things that made the book such a stunning achievement: The gorgeous imagery, the beautiful and intimate father-son moments shared between The Man and The Boy - even some of the more gruesome and frightening scenes of the book (see our gallery of cannibalized extras from The Road for an example).
From what I hear, this spin-job first trailer and the stock footage spliced in are the Weinsteins' doing. Well, I'd like to pass on a message to the Weinsteins, if I may be so bold: Cut another trailer, a REAL trailer, and get it out ASAP. Hell, if you do that and actually do it right, I'll be the first one to post it up and praise it. Remember Harv: if you want that Oscar (you delayed this film a year just to have a better shot at one) then you've got to show us up front that The Road is a contender. A cheesy disaster flick trailer doesn't do that.
Luring audiences into a movie theater thinking they're going to see one thing and showing them something entirely different just results in an annoyed audience. Even if a movie is excellent, you shouldn't "trick" people into watching it.
What do you think about this news that the Weinsteins messed with the first trailer of The Road? Are you a pissed-off Cormac McCarthy fan? Or were you cool with the post-apocalyptic thriller you were sold?
Speaking of Cormac McCarthy: If you're out there, Mr. McCarthy, we'd love for you to weigh in on all this. It is your work, after all.
The Road is slated to hit theaters on October 16, 2009.