The Road is fiction, but the bleak scenery is real

Source: USA Today

Image Macall Polay.
© 2929/Dimension Films/MGM.
Imagining the end of the world is not easy, especially if you're not going to create one with a computer. But director John Hillcoat and filmmakers of The Road believe they discovered it in Pittsburgh.

"It's a beautiful place in fall with the colors changing," Hillcoat says. "But in winter, it can be very bleak. There are city blocks that are abandoned. The woods can be brutal. We didn't want to go the CGI world."

"We wanted the heightened reality in the book."

That book is Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winner of the same name. It's about a father and son who navigate a countryside devastated by an unnamed catastrophe.

The film, which stars Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron and 11-year-old Kodi Smit-McPhee, also was shot in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans and on Mount St. Helens in Washington state for scenes of devastation.

But most of the film was shot in and around Pittsburgh.

Hillcoat found abandoned coal fields, a deserted amusement park and an 8-mile stretch of closed freeway as locations.

"It's tangible, the misery and hopelessness and the bleakness," Mortensen says. "It gives you much more to work with if you're filming in that world instead of a green screen.

"You have to bring a story to life in a movie in a way you don't have to in a book -- even a book as powerful as that."

But Mortensen says that, like the book, the film adaptation is more than bleak imagery.

"I spoke with Cormac before we started shooting," he says. "I think what's made this story so universally loved is because it's really about protecting your child, no matter what the circumstances.

At its core, it's a love story."
Last edited: 10 August 2008 08:11:27