Cormac McCarthy Thinks ‘Blood Meridian’ Can be Filmed


Last August I wrote an article headlined “Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian’ Can’t Possibly Become a Movie” in response to continued word Little Children and In the Bedroom helmer Todd Field was set to direct McCarthy’s blood-soaked 1985 breakthrough novel. Among the reasons given I wrote “there is no chance this book can be brought to the big screen and possibly keep its tone, not in the slightest.” In a new interview with McCarthy and John Hillcoat, the director of the upcoming McCarthy adaptation The Road, McCarthy says “That’s all crap.”

John Jergensen interviewing for The Wall Street Joural said to the 76-year-old author, “People have said ‘Blood Meridian’ is unfilmable because of the sheer darkness and violence of the story.” McCarthy responded:

That’s all crap. The fact that’s it’s a bleak and bloody story has nothing to do with whether or not you can put it on the screen. That’s not the issue. The issue is it would be very difficult to do and would require someone with a bountiful imagination and a lot of balls. But the payoff could be extraordinary.

Just to be clear, I don’t believe “Blood Meridian” is unfilmable, I just don’t think there is any chance any director will be granted the money necessary to bring it to the big screen. Sure, McCarthy’s right, should someone with imagination and the proper amount of courage set out to make it, the payoff could be extraordinary. However, this isn’t a story where the overwhelming violence is to satiate the audience’s prurient interest in blood and gore. It’s real world violence with real world consequences. I simply don’t believe a studio would come within ten feet of it should it be adapted with the same aggression that’s written on the page.

Unfortunately the conversation on that topic didn’t go any further, but the interview is an absolute must read. Outside of the myriad of insightful bits of commentary there are a few choice exchanges such as the following samples:

WSJ: Why don’t you sign copies of “The Road”

CM: There are signed copies of the book, but they all belong to my son John, so when he turns 18 he can sell them and go to Las Vegas or whatever. No, those are the only signed copies of the book.

WSJ: How many did you have?

CM: 250. So occasionally I get letters from book dealers or whoever that say, “I have a signed copy of the ‘The Road,'” and I say, “No. You don’t.”

WSJ: How does that ticking clock affect your work? Does it make you want to write more shorter pieces, or to cap things with a large, all-encompassing work?

CM: I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.

Hillcoat and McCarthy discuss “The Road” for a bit as well toward the end. To read the full interview click here.

The Road hits theaters on November 25, for more information on that film click here.