Whoa, how did I miss this? Blood Meridian Gets a New Director?

I am not sure how I missed this and why it seems everybody else did too, but apparently Ridley Scott is no longer directing an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s brutal western Blood Meridian. I knew production was at a standstill on it and that Scott was having a hard time with the screenplay, but according to an article Rope of Silicon ran on August 19th (as well as its IMDb page), Todd Field (Little Children, In the Bedroom) is now helming the project.

“No Country’s” Academy Award-winning producer Scott Rudin and “Little Children” filmmaker Todd Field have been developing a “Blood Meridian” movie, and Australian filmmaker Andrew Dominik wants to film “Cities of the Plain,” the last book in McCarthy’s border trilogy. Said Field in explaining McCarthy’s appeal: “His work examines our core, the two faces of violence that co-exist in every savage act – brutal strength of purpose holding hands with a desperate and cowering weakness.”

This news seemingly came out of nowhere and surprisingly not too many people have noticed, which is odd since Cormac McCarthy is the hottest thing in both modern literature and filmmaking right now, with last year’s No Country for Old Men and this year’s upcoming and high anticipated The Road.

I am still not sure how I feel about bringing Blood Meridian to the screen at all. It just seems unfilmable, at least with keeping the tone and feeling of the novel intact, let alone some of the events themselves. I’m not sure how I feel with the transition from Scott to Field either, but I guess I wouldn’t know how to feel no matter who was directing. There are many other McCarthy works that I think would work better on the big screen, including the rest of the Border trilogy.

As for Dominik wanting to film Cities of the Plain (the final novel in the Border trilogy), I wrote about that in my McCarthyism article back in April, in which Dominik said he has “a big thing for McCarthy, and it’s a beautiful story” (which it is and I honestly cannot think of a single better man than Dominik for the job), but he refuses to cast big stars in any of the roles and the studio will not greenlight it without big stars attached. Maybe, just maybe if he agreed to have Casey Affleck (who he worked with on The Assassination of Jesse James) on board for the late-20s Billy Parham of the novel, that would be a big enough star for the studio? I want to see this made, but please agree to tackle its predecessor The Crossing too, Andrew!

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rot
Guest

Jonathan, you just gave me this years biggest oh. my. fucking. god. Todd Field is just what this story needs, I am psyched now.

Andrew James
Admin

Well, I've never read this one, but I love both Ridley and Todd Field. Either way, the more McCarthy the better as far as I'm concerned.

Judging from other McCarthy works, my guess is that Field will bring a much needed reserved approach. Ridley can get a bit over the top and melodramatic (see American Gangster). Probably good news. We'll see though I guess.

murph
Guest

Todd Field? isn't that a weird choice? especially a weird choice to get excited over? i mean, he has done great stuff with Little Children and all, but the scope of Blood Meridian is huge. i think Ridley would have been a far better choice, as long as he could stay away from the melodrama. Blood Meridian had ZERO melodrama

rot
Guest

My excitement comes from the fact that I think Todd Field is an exceptional storyteller and that he may be able to inject that thin thread of narrative into the film that I think is essential. It has to be brutal, brutality in this story is what dialogue is to most other films, its there all the time and it is about a world that people inhabit more so than any kind of character arc, but if it was done with only the brutality, only a series of violent vignettes than I would think it was a failure. Todd can bring out the human in the story, as a center around which the centrifugal forces of the environment work upon. What needs to be achieved is something so subtle, so precise so as to not fall one way or the other into excess, and for me Todd Field has proven a master of this sort of precision. Little Children was a satirical melodrama, an incredibly difficult thing to pull off and I think it was masterfully done. He will add an essential layer to Blood Meridian that will give it the potent tragedy it deserves.

That said, I still have a hundred pages left of the book to read.

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rot
Guest

Finally finished Blood Meridian, and have a few things to say about this:

This is now my most anticipated film adaptation, I really think Todd Field can pull this off, but it could also hurt his career if done right. This is the one that will distinguish him as a Kubrick, a person that is allowed to do his own thing outside of the market. This is such a monstrous story, a Bosch painting come to life, it must overwhelm in its details, it is all about details (a parasol made of skin with a legbone as a handle). The book works as a cinematographers checklist, one just needs to keep to McCarthy's vision, and I hope that Field will inject the small bit of humanity within it.

The Judge is a sublime role, not sure who would fit it. David Thewlis would be awesome as the Judge.

terrence
Guest

two crazy ideas/suggestions:

1) Make it a miniseries

a la Band of Brothers, John Adams….or Kill Bill Style. The narrative begs for intermissions, and the bloodletting and travel is so relentless, viewers would need a break.

2) Make it animated.

I'm talking at a visually stunning Pixar level with animators that resist all urges and inclinations to ham it up. I know it sounds crazier than skinless bear, but it might be a worthy risk. Who knows, it might spark a movement in animation as a viable adult format.

3) Have it narrated. By Joe Frank.

Ben
Guest

Little Children was potent stuff, but I have to point out what no one else who posted seemed to remember, and that is Todd Field's accomplished previous film: In The Bedroom. The quiet terror of death's presence, something vital to McCarthy's language, could be put to a match with some of In The Bedroom's closing scenes. In other words, I'd wager this will be one helluva film. With regards to a comment posted above concerning melodramatic touches– Todd Field is 10x's less likely to pull that crap than Ridley Scott… (Gladiator, anyone?) Here's hoping Mr. Field doesn't back down from the challenge.

rot
Guest

Ben I couldn't agree more, if you thread jump you would see in the one where we are talking about best films of 2001, In the Bedroom was my #3. In many ways its a better film than Little Children, it is solidly constructed.

This is one of those projects that I long to see made, I need to live long enough to see it realized.

will
Guest

Who do you guys think should play the kid? Or John Glanton?

zap
Guest

Field is a good choice. Now pick a screen writer who will start from respect for McCarthy's prose (ie: not interjecting their own vision of how they think Cormac should be interpreted visually by an unsuspecting politically correct general public). Next find a cinematographer who can visually resonate with the lyrical vision McCarty breathed into this highly original work. Show it all the descent into depravity through the eyes of the kid's humanity. Has the potential to be the finest American Film ever made…period. Either that, or it could just be a colossal failure.

Mike Rot
Member

screenwriter, how about Nick Cave and Todd Field?

Like I said in the first comment, this is my most anticipated film, outside of Malick's Tree of Life. It has to go balls to the wall out there to work. Ebert on twitter recommended Tom Noonan as the Judge, which is pretty inspired casting.

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