Author Cormac McCarthy Thinks Blood Meridian IS Filmable

November 15, 2009
Source: Wall Street Journal

Blood Meridian

Another great, supposedly "unfilmable" novel (besides Watchmen), is Cormac McCarthy's break out 1985 novel Blood Meridian. If you're not familiar with McCarthy, he's the author who wrote the novels that were turned into All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men, and now The Road. Blood Meridian is a critically acclaimed novel, set in the 1850s, about American mercenaries hunting Indians in the Mexican borderland. McCarthy recently talked with the Wall Street Journal (it's actually a fantastic interview) and was asked about why people think Blood Meridian is unfilmable. And his answer might surprise you.

WSJ: People have said "Blood Meridian" is unfilmable because of the sheer darkness and violence of the story.

CM: 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.

Mind you, this guy is 76-years-old and lives quietly in New Mexico. And that's exactly why I love seeing him saying things like "that's all crap" and that whoever decides to direct an adaptation of his book better have "a lot of balls." And he's right. However, Zack Snyder had enough balls to adapt Watchmen and even fought to keep the story true to the book (instead of letting it become a bland PG-13 studio movie). Not that Snyder should direct Blood Meridian, but that's proof that the right person can do a great job adapting a novel, even if it's bleak, bloody, violent, dark and supposedly "unfilmable." So who has enough balls to direct this?

An adaptation of Blood Meridian has actually been in the works for a while (from producer Scott Rudin). Most recently, Todd Field (of In the Bedroom and Little Children) was attached to direct, but given we haven't heard from him in a while, he's probably no longer involved. But who knows? I think Field could do a great job with this, but it'll be quite a monumental task. Can I nominate Andrew Dominik? I loved The Assassination of Jesse James and I think he could do a great job adapting this novel as well. And if you're now curious about the novel, you may as well pick up a copy via Amazon to see why it's so "unfilmable."

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Todays hollywood movies are very open to violence and gore. My guess is producers love this kind of stories this days because they understand them as part of the violent-horror genre (wich has proven profitable). But i dont know anything about this book and its story, so i guess only someone who has read it can tell us whats in its core... Is it racism with no clear sides taken? If thats so then i can see some producers getting cold feet about the whole project...

Dreckent on Nov 15, 2009


isn't andrew dominik filming the 3rd part of cormac mccarthys border trilogy??

ross on Nov 15, 2009


I happen to be reading Blood right now and if they can film the road, they can film this. The story is meandering and very episodic (the gang goes here and this happens, the gang goes there and that happens) but there are some great images that could be exploited. Could be a sexeh film.

J-Love on Nov 15, 2009


The real question is... Who would be cast as The Judge? Get the right person in that role...and then direct the character the way he appears in the book...and you will have one of the all-time best screen villains in the history of movies...

Frank N. Stein on Nov 15, 2009


yea, the judge. tough. hairless liam neeson? it's the only thing i could come up with.

egg land on Nov 15, 2009


This is the first I've heard of any of those directors being attached to Blood Meridian. I thought Ridley Scott had rather famously acquired the rights and has been struggling to work out what to do with it for many years now. Did he walk away from the project in the end? If so, that's sad. His middle names might as well be 'Bountiful Imagination,' and this is just the kind of project he needs to get himself back on track (rather than that appalling-sounding Monopoly movie)...

Mathieu on Nov 15, 2009


The Judge is one of the most memorable characters in modern literature. Whoever played him would have to be fearless and a true character actor. Someone with the acting chops of Daniel Day Lewis or Gary Oldman (though I can't really picture either in the role). I read this a few years ago after I got turned to McCarthy after reading The Road, and so far it is far and away my favorite novel of his, and I daresay one of my favorite novels of all time. Unfilmable though? Anything's filmable. The question is can it be filmed right?

Fazha on Nov 15, 2009


Not filmable? Hell it is barely readable. This book is a mess. It has no center at all. Some guys go kill people, they go over here almost die. kill some more people. repeat Ad nauseum. No Country – Brilliant! – The Road – Heartbreaking! Meridian – pointless mess. Sure you could film it. Maybe a good Director and Editor could actually make it into you know - a story?

Daniel on Nov 15, 2009


Give it to Nick Cave to adapt for the screen.

dELVIS on Nov 16, 2009


Paul W.S Anderson to direct and milla jovavich as the judge

fd on Nov 16, 2009


Just a quick thought, Director = Michael Winterbottom Judge = Brendan Gleeson Discuss.... Ad

Ad K on Nov 17, 2009


Re-animate Kubrick.

Brian McNeil on Nov 27, 2009


Some might consider Passion of the Christ to be "too bloody" yet Mel Gibson had no problem in casting this movie. I have not read this book but it doesn't matter. Like any movie, if you like it go and watch it. If you don't, don't watch it. However, I believe this movie should be allowed to be filmed. I mean if Final Destination 3 can be shown with girls boiling alive in a tanning bed or a guy's head sliced open with the fan blade of the pickup truck, why not allow it? As for who should play the judge, that sounds like something right up Burt Reynolds alley. I have faith in Burt, though I must say if he performs like he did in Dukes of Hazzard, I will not like the movie, sorry. He made the worst bad guy I've ever seen. Peace, love, and war, Jon

Jon on Feb 3, 2010


Daniel, i just wanted to let you know blood meridian is nowhere near unreadable. If it was unreadable how could so many people read it over so many times. Perhaps you should try nicholas sparks so you wont have to figure out what et en arcadia libre means. If blood meridian was a pointless mess then i am a 12 year old girl(i'm not by the way). It is an epic that not only makes me doubt my sanity at times but turns my worldview on its axis, not since i read American Psycho have i felt so skullfucked. How can you say you liked the baby's roasting in the road, not to mention the chained up pregnant women used, i can only assume, as walking food mills. And yet the violence in Blood Meridian is a mess you say. Ad Nauseum is correct the violence is used to a sickening degree, it is used to the point that is becomes the background, the characters and there violence coalescing together to the point where any kind hearted moment is miraculous. My god man when the kid calls the dead old women grandmother and tells her hes going to take her home, then realizes shes dead. How can you say that is pointless. Personally that is one of the greatest things i have ever read. I will not even go into judge holdens fantastic character, demon, god, an avatar of woe and destruction, or just a man. Just pick up a dictionary and a list of latin phrases next time you read it bud. p.s... fuck you daniel.

chris a. fagundes on Aug 17, 2010

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