James Franco is Now Set to Adapt Cormac McCarthy's 'Child of God'

September 15, 2011
Source: We Got This Covered

Child of God / James Franco

Early this year, we learned that James Franco was looking to adapt Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian as one of a few potential directing gigs to take on sometime in the future. The news was surprising considering the book has been called "unfilmmable" with directors like  Todd Field (Little Children), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon) and Ridley Scott previously being interested in tackling the material. Now We Got This Covered says Franco has also put the project on the backburner, and will instead adapt Child of God, another novel from McCarthy, the same author behind No Country for Old Men.

Being interviewed at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, here's what Franco said:

“We shot a 20 minute test of [Blood Meridian] that turned out pretty well. We were gearing up to do the feature but that for various reasons is on hold, but we are going to make a movie based on [Cormac McCarthy’s] third book 'Child Of God.'”

Set in mountainous Servier Sounty, Tennessee Child of God tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as “a child of God much like yourself perhaps.” Ballard’s life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation. That's the official synopsis of the book, and it sounds like some challenging material for any first-time director. Of course with McCarthy's writing as source material, a director only needs the passion and the right vision since a great story is already there on the page.

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It is certainly nice to see a Hollywood star so aggressively pursuing creativity, but I wonder whether or not Franco has the chops to pull off a McCarthy adaption. Because for all of McCarthy's story telling talent (and it is immense) his prose is really very sparse and contained, and his novels succeed because of his mastery of setting. Child of God (and especially Blood Meridian) strike me as hugely challenging projects for a first time director.

Lebowski on Sep 16, 2011


This film will prominently feature necrophilia.

Anon on Sep 16, 2011


You're right, Anon, it's interesting that this article neglected to mention that the novel's protagonist (if you can call him that) is a definite necrophiliac, concentrating instead on the fact of his degradation and his "disastrous attempt to live outside the social order" - as if his isolation were somehow a pre-meditated, philosophical statement of sorts. Certainly not the case. The synopsis was a bit sterilized; it makes me wonder/fear if the same approach might be taken by Franco & Co. 

John on Sep 16, 2011


They left out the incest too.

Tajamison on Sep 16, 2011


I agree with anyone who says this is challenging. COG is one of my favorite McCarthy books, and I think the best of Appalachian novels; but to be a film it would really take some talent to be meaningful. If Franco were experienced like, say, Darren Aronofsky (like Requiem for a Dream) or PT Anderson (TWBB) I'd be drooling already. But in my mind he's the guy who did well for himself after Freaks and Geeks to co-star in Spiderman, then went to film school. Ballard's ultimate fate calls for a deft hand. And I think Tajamison is confusing this with Outer Dark.

Yejudge on Sep 16, 2011


Regarding the making of CM novels into film and then of Franco's likelihood of pulling this one off, Lebowski's comment is about as tersely savvy a summing up you are likely to see.

PhDler on Sep 17, 2011

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