Franco's Blood Meridian test footage released

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  • 21 Jul 2014 at 9:57 pm #5666 )
    The 25 minute film depicts Tobin’s recounting of the gunpowder incident.

    I was very eager to see this footage, and while I am glad to have had the chance, I must admit that I am also glad that the imagination that gave us this impression of the novel will not be the one responsible for the eventual(?) cinematic treatment. I found this to be rather flat and uninspired. I realize this is just rough test footage filmed out of Franco’s own pocket, but after seeing Child of God, I fear that the end result would have been just as small and underwhelming. I actually had a hard time focusing on this for the entire 25 minutes. In my own humble opinion, we dodged a bullet when Franco gave up the rights to Blood Meridian.

    21 Jul 2014 at 10:36 pm #5671

    Rick Wallach

    Greetins’ from Sydney, mates.

    For me the biggest weakness here is the judge. He’s too thin, too small, too unimposing – aside from being bald, he just blends in with the rest of the gang. But I loved Scott Glenn as Tobin. I may just be biased; after his turn as Alan Shepherd in The Right Stuff, I might forgive him for anything. I think he’s pretty good here, though. He does what he can with the direction, which is, I agree, uninspired.

    We’ll be screening Child of God here in Sydney on Friday night. I was impressed with Franco’s version of As I Lay Dying and Peter Josyph told me over dinner that he’s just wrapped his film of The Sound and the Fury. Of the latter, I think it took great courage to film that one after the pig’s breakfast Martin Ritt made of it (to this day, even though I ackcherley seen it, I have a hard time convincing myself that anyone in their right minds who had to answer to investors greenlighted a film with Yul Brynner in a bad toupee playing Jason Compson).

    Now somewhere back a few months is a terrific stage version of Tobin’s gunpowder story. I am ashamed to admit that I can’t remember the name of the thread or the fine young actor (compared to me, anyway) who performed it and posted it here.I am conflicted about whether to blame the jet lag or the encroaching obsolescence. Anyway, after you endure this film clip, check back and find it. That is how it should be done.

    22 Jul 2014 at 2:25 am #5672


    Blood Meridian needs the 70mm film treatment, with the talents of a great character actor, I easily picture a beefed up Michael Shannon. Jackie Earle Halley also needs a role.

    22 Jul 2014 at 3:20 am #5674

    I liked Scott Glenn’s performance too. I’ve been a fan of his ever since I saw The Keep as a teenager. I’d be very happy with him as Tobin in a real Blood Meridian film.

    The Judge was indeed terribly miscast. It takes more than a bald head and a sinister expression to be Judge Holden. This actor seemed to play Holden as a kind of half-witted wildman.

    I may be wrong, and I saw no mention of his name, but the Apache leader in Franco’s film looked a lot like the veteran Native American character actor, Ned Romero.

    JoeTaylor: Jackie Earle Halley also needs a role.

    I always said that Jackie Earle Hailey at the age he was in Bad News Bears is my ideal version of the kid. He had that genuine redneck peckerwood air that I think is essential.

    Now, perhaps he would be a great Toadvine.

    I also strongly agree that Blood Meridian needs the full 70mm all-star cast treatment. An intimate little low budget job like JF apparently had in mind would not do it justice. I was really looking forward to Ridley Scott’s interpretation a few years ago. I’d also like to see BM done in vivid technicolor like the westerns of the 60s and 70s. I don’t much care for the tired and cliched urine-like sepia filter that has stained virtually every western made since 1980.

    25 Jul 2014 at 11:51 am #5687

    Aside from flying to Sydney how can I view Child of God? I gather the flick’s been out for some time and folks have seen it. On this kind of new film thing that the avant garde get in on, like Pandarus in Troilus and Cressida, I hop always behind. But be kind; I’m in my dotage.

    Rick, are ye staying on your diabetic diet (any okra in Sydney)? Don’t look like if with all that luxurious cuisine you’re consuming. Anyway, have lots of culinary fun. You can return to dietary discipline in Miami.

    26 Jul 2014 at 10:38 pm #5694

    Candy Minx

    Bob, I don’t think CHILD OF GOD opens nationwide in the States till August. So you should be able to find it.

    I really didn’t mind the screen test. However, it was the length of one third of a movie and that didn’t bode well. It felt more like a mini-series which isn’t a bad idea.

    I really liked the effort and that there are people out there doing such screen tests and experiments heartens me.

    What I found odd about the screen test is that….here is a story with some of the most rousing action and the movement of this test was so….”literal”. And what I mean is in order to translate the literary quality and experience producing incantatory senses of the novel…it seems that has been applied as a literal “slowing” down of the action. I think that is a valid interpretation for filming something so literary…but too literal. And undersells the action within the novel.

    There were some edits and juxtapositions that read as naive…where the judge points and then the next scene is the riders coming in screen from the left….right as the judge had pointed. Again too literal and detailed. Either the point, or the riders traversing across screen from left. Not both. I believe it was that sort of decision that could read as flat.

    ….but I really liked the effort.

    Needs a more harassed editing and diverse pacing…but I don’t want to nitpick because overall I thought the casting was pretty cool. I didn’t mind Mark Pelligrino as the judge. He is a very good actor. I can imagine with a few months notice to really play the judge he could work more into the role. I suspect these guys pulled this screen test together fairly quickly. I loved David Franco as the kid.

    27 Jul 2014 at 4:34 am #5696

    Pellegrino’s performance as Judge Holden was far too rustic and homespun in his vocal intonations and mannerisms. Based on what I saw, I have my doubts he has read the novel or knows anything more about Holden’s character beyond the very basic facts that Holden is a mysterious wild west badman. Holden should be portrayed as much more urbane and sophisticated than the others in Glanton’s gang. I haven’t seen much of Pellegrino’s work, but I have my doubts he could do Holden justice regardless of the amount of preparation.

    Victor Buono, best known for his role in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, would have made an excellent Judge Holden. I watched Buono in a western called The Wrath of God several years ago, and ever since, he has been my personal image of Holden. I think he would have been even better than Marlon Brando, who would have brought too many of his own quirks to the role and probably altered the character beyond recognition. Unfortunately Buono has been dead for over 30 years, but someone of his type and persona should be chosen for Judge Holden.

    27 Jul 2014 at 7:58 am #5698

    Candy Minx

    I think there could be a lot of people who could do the Judge.

    I agree with the image of Pellegrino…for sure. He doesn’t look strong. I had a problem with the make up…lol. He had a skull cap on it seems and some weird wrinkles were occurring.

    Would his portrayal be interesting and multi-layered for a whole movie? Not played just at the level we saw in half an hour.

    I actually liked how he appeared very young and innocent in some scenes.

    I thought the tension was completely washed out in the action of making the gunpowder. Compensating by yelling piss a bunch of times didn’t help.

    I think….this is a sketch. And I think the luxury of being able to make such a sketch is a really wonderful thing due really to digital technology. It is also the potential problem with making a sketch.

    The pressure of preparing and minimalizing waste can be removed when filming digital. Film makers can become decadent with infinite materials such as time and footage.

    In a real movie budget….one has to use the medium wisely and efficiently. The budget constraints add a sense of urgency. Although the corporate aspect of film making can produce a lot of crap and kill a good project…the lack of urgency can produce an appearance of prevention and seduction with the image….too much. The image needs to be seductive. And new film makers are prone to be intoxicated with their own camera use and image-making.

    And tis is what I mean when I say some of the editing decisions…even in a sketch can appear naive. Because it’s so exciting to see ones own film work…when you’re a beginner you can become attached and unable to make the ruthless cuts one needs to make.

    Under a time frame…a written work becomes a balancing act between establishing the characters and building tension and conflict.

    That is missing in this screen est.

    However…I love it that these folks went out and spent a couple days working through the story. Short of a mini-series they could not keep that scene at half an hour. Thats a third of a movie.

    It’s not unusual for film makers to do workshopping to build a story and work out characters and such.

    I think it’s really cool we got to see this at all. I probably would have not shared it…because I know the kind of response it would get from people unfamiliar with the process.

    The screen test is like a technical manual. Much like the script for The Counselor. It’s not made for lay-people to read.

    However…I love looking at stuff in it’s different stages. So I think James Franc is pretty brave for releasing this screen test.

    I think it’s a valuable piece of film archiving and history. I think it opens up a lot of ideas for artists and new film makers. I think it opens up a dialogue for producers to consider a mini-series on a network like Showcase or HBO.

    27 Jul 2014 at 8:02 am #5699

    Candy Minx

    p.s. I’ve been watching THE COUNSELOR on dvr on HBO this week. I really think it’s much better than I originally thought.

    And a friend of mine watched it a couple weeks ago on hbo when it was premiered and she said “I found it very disturbing”.

    I thought that was a great comment. When I first saw it…and we left the theatre…I had an overwhelming sense of dread. I felt like everyone was a little scary in the world and bad things could happen and they would be right beside me. My husband reminded me that when we left the theatre…we overheard a group of gangsters talking about guns and drugs. It just fit. And we live a walking distance from the heroin shipping lz of north america. Heavy shit.

    (goddammit the autocorrect here is a mother…had to edit over and over lol)

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Candy Minx.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Candy Minx.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Candy Minx.
    27 Jul 2014 at 1:48 pm #5703

    Candy Minx: I think it opens up a dialogue for producers to consider a mini-series on a network like Showcase or HBO.

    If that happens due to this footage, it will certainly have served a very important function. An HBO series is what I am hoping for now. I’ve been watching A Game of Thrones, and the HBO format is ideal for literary adaptions. I’d say they could do a complete and faithful Blood Meridian adaption in one ten-episode season.

    I’m just not sure that Blood Meridian has the mass appeal that a big fat fantasy series like GoT has in order for HBO to gamble on it. With GoT, the selling points have been gratuitous sex and nudity, violence and depravity. Blood Meridian has plenty of the latter two, but not very much of the former. I’d worry that they would try to “spice it up” in that regard, (not out of a dislike of gratuitous sex and nudity, just a desire for them to retain the integrity of BM). I never watched Deadwood, which is closer in tone to BM, but I understand one of the popular aspects was over-the-top profanity.

    Hope I haven’t gone too far off the topic of Franco’s footage! Looking forward to finally watching The Counselor. I’m not sure why I have waited so long.

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