Franco's Blood Meridian test footage released

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  • 27 Jul 2014 at 4:18 pm #5704

    Candy Minx

    Yes…I think that the best adaptation format would be miniseries for BM. I think it also doesn’t have the appeal of popularity as GoT….

    But wait….GoT is several seasons.

    It is more appropriate to compare the mini-series concept to other smaller HBO movie projects. Why do we have to restrict it’s labeling?

    Movies like Phil Spector story, Behind the Candelabra, Temple Grandin, Sunset Limited…all found homes through HBO-like productions. I think there is room for a movie-like production more compared to TRUE DETECTIVE. Produced as 8 episodes. Yes, there are future seasons…but the format of a short mini movie is played out week in comparing THE NEWSROOM and TRUE DETECTIVE to a potential BLOOD MERIDIAN.

    I don’t know the specs on selling a series, versus selling “just” a long segmented movie. It would be so interesting to see what someone at HBO would say about something like that. LonesomeDove-ish. Why not, right?

    I also think….BLOOD MERIDIAN has a much bigger audience than people might imagine.

    28 Jul 2014 at 1:28 am #5706


    I recall reading an interview where McCarthy said the idea of the novel being unfilmable was nonsense.

    I watched a few min of the test footage and like the visuals, like Glen, but didn’t care for the judge. I imagine a Barton Fink era John Goodman…. it would be a hard cast. Or better yet an unknown. Michael Shannon would be good but they’d have to film it with special effects ala hobbit.

    The counselor looked gorgeous, but it was a letdown from the script (which was questionable). They also should have switched Cameron and Penelope and not stunt cast John Leguizamo. —-Interestingly….a fan of the movie is talk show host Michael Savage. He praised the film and particularly the philosophical exchange between Fassbender and the Cartel boss at the end.

    I’ve only seen one Franco directed film and it was more Goddard than Peckinpah. It worked for what he was doing but can’t see it working with this material. I could see him playing a part (after his Homefront look) but not directing it.

    Ridley Scott, Michael Mann, new guy Scott Cooper, Soderbergh (who’s supposedly looking at Sot Weed Factor )….there are lots of interesting directors out there.

    28 Jul 2014 at 9:26 am #5708

    Candy Minx

    I watched The Counselor again last night.

    It’s a strong combination of Michael Mann meets Jim Thompson.

    I really really like this movie.

    I like how it goes directly to the fall.

    I made a mistake at first with this story about the protagonist. For some reason I thought he was somewhat sympathetic. And he still is sympathetic by the end of the movie for me…but it is quite a tough philosophy I feel about the story now.

    I feel that we don’t see why he falls, or fails.

    The story indicts the human who does not understand the price of moral decisions.

    The real criminal in the movie is The Counselor. Everyone else knows exactly the life they lead and the price it costs to live that life due to the moral choices they live.

    And in a way it doesn’t seem to matter if they are conscious, environmental choices, from childhood nature versus nurture. It doesn’t matter….it’s how hard and powerful one plays the life out.

    Life is a grind. Life is one energy consuming another energy.

    I love how the movie portrays one food group devouring another food group incessantly. The Counselor does not see this chain. His crime is not seeing that when you understand this chain of events…and you decide to participate willingly…there is a cost. His crime is that he thinks he can intellectualize this energy. Westray, Reiner, Malkina don’t think they are smarter or immune to the struggle….they know if one decides to make a game of it, then you better win.

    I don’t really agree with trading Diaz and Cruz for the others role.

    I think Cruz is very good at portraying when she realizes who The Counselor is…When they are at a horse race or table outside and a former client named Tony comes to them. How he sees The Counselor is so interesting. He is confrontational, bitter and snide. Tony’s girlfriend is actually afraid they will get into a fight.

    The scene suggests a nasty side of The Counselor. Tony says the lawyer is not to be trusted. Tony seems to be the character that lets the audience know…this lawyer is not so loyal to his clients. I thought it touching that the character who lets us know who Fassbinders character is named Tony. ( made me think of late Tony Scott).

    That Cruz’s character is so nervous and emotional during this scene is interesting. The camera shows us as she reaches for The Counselors hand to hold him back from getting into fight. Then as Tony leaves….the camera closes on the couples hands and we see Fassbinder isn’t actually holding Cruz’s hand…he has his own hand grasped…for punching Tony? Or to reject her involvement and intimacy?

    I thought it was a great choice to film that.

    I think Cameron diaz is better to be played by an icy tone. She appears so superficial and fluffy in many ways. Diaz isn’t bringing us inside her character. She tells us a lot about herself…yet it is with a kind of removed attitude so very different than dissociative. She isn’t dissociative…she is beyond the pain of existence. She doesn’t need to block out pain. She seems to have accepted the lack of community intimacy most people crave and cultivate.

    Her intimacy in life is within the structures of game and winning. I don’t think Cruz would be able to portray that better than Diaz.

    I believe Diaz has been undervalued in this part because it’s so difficult to imagine a real life person who is so much game. Her role is more like a pimp or a madame for the sexual trade. If she was playing that literal part/career I think she’d be more understood. Natalie Dormers character does not understand Diaz…at first, but Diaz’s power is made clear to Dormer. And Dormer has to run away.

    I love when The Counselor is resisting the truth of his life…and when he hears that anecdote about the fried and the poet who loses his love. The Counselor says “But I’m not a poet”.

    It’s as if we might learn the crime of life is when you aren’t a poet.

    01 Aug 2014 at 4:28 pm #5720


    Ugh. This was hard to watch. I could elaborate, but I will only mention that this film reinforced the “Blood Meridian is a cowboy book” notion. In this case, it could have been the cast of one of the ’60’s westerns thrown in with the judge. I had always imagined the scalp hunters appearance more akin to troopers under Old Hickory than cowboys, because it’s closer in time. This hurts wicked bad.

    02 Aug 2014 at 12:30 pm #5724

    Workserker: I had always imagined the scalp hunters appearance more akin to troopers under Old Hickory than cowboys

    In the book when they are out in the field, they wore rugged, hide clothing:

    “…bearded, barbarous, clad in the skins of animals stitched up with thews and armed with weapons of every description, revolvers of enormous weight and bowieknives the size of claymores and short twobarreled rifles with bores you could fit your thumbs in and the trappings of their horses fashioned out of human skin and their bridles woven up from human hair and decorated with human teeth and the riders wearing scapulars or necklaces of dried and blackened human ears…”

    When the gang was in Chihuahua they bought fancier clothing from the merchants when they were paid for the scalps. I’d picture foppish “dandy” clothes and military officer’s jackets for those scenes.

    The clothes seen in the film clip were not appropriate to the gang at all. Granted, they were not exactly Hollywood cowboy duds. either. I’ve seen many period tintypes of 49er prospectors and Franco’s gang looked much like them. Those clothes would be fine for the travelers at the ferry and maybe Captain White’s outfit but when they were out traveling in the wilderness and fighting they should have looked more like evil dirty, filthy mountain men but with teeth, scalps and ears for decoration instead of beads and quillwork. I think I did see at least one ear-necklace in the clip.

    While I would dress the gang members in this way, I think I would have Holden looking a little neater and cleaner throughout. I’d give him a plain black “gambler style” frock coat and trousers and a white shirt and high black boots topped off with his panama hat for the wilderness scenes, just to give him that visual separation from the gang. Again, I thought Holden in the clip was presented as an inarticulate yokel in both looks and dialogue. I did like the trousers he wore, albeit not for Holden. Maybe I’d give them to Glanton.

    Franco probably didn’t have enough in his budget to really dress them up the way they should have been. He did have to pay for this himself.

    Here are a couple of links to illustrations by Samuel Chamberlain, who actually rode with the gang and likely served as inspiration for the Chambers character. The link I provided also contains a very interesting article on the firearms used in Blood Meridian. You can actually see what the Wesson rifle used by Capt. White’s lieutenant looked like, among other firearms.

    A long-haired Judge Holden presents a geological lecture to the scalphunters
    Judge Holden presents a geological lecture to the scalphunters.

    The gang approaches a wagon destroyed by Indians
    The gang approaches a wagon destroyed by Indians

    04 Aug 2014 at 2:53 pm #5739


    Rick – thanks for the very kind words.

    The Forum thread to my staged Tobin monologue is here:

    And the direct link to the performance is here:

    I was a little surprised that Franco took on the exact same sequence from start to finish, although of course it makes sense since it is one of the most compelling extended passages in the novel. But it’s also deceivingly complex. As was mentioned in the other thread, it is the only section of the book that is from the first person perspective of a character. Therefore, the power of the narrative and the images are in the telling, and not to be confused with the direct cinematic accessibility of say the burning tree or some of the more horrendous and psychedelic action sequences. The confusion easily arising is in the nature of the so-called fourth wall and the process by which we visualize for ourselves the telling of otherwise external and extraordinary events. I am convinced that with this particular sequence, the power of the images is in the telling and not in the images themselves, which is exactly why McCarthy couched them in a RE-TELLING, and the only such one in the novel.

    I won’t comment on Franco’s attempt. I admire his ambition and some of his previous work. But in my experience with having taken on this difficult passage, suffice it to say that the gunpowder sequences (as with much of the novel) require an absolutely committed and channeled telling (or a getting out of the way of this freight train and letting the language serve as its own cinematic device) and/or the most masterful filmmaking this century or the previous has yet seen – and I’m not yet convinced that they’re compatible. Or to put it another way – and I think this somehow goes without saying in this Forum – a cinematic telling of the Blood Meridian MUST imbue the sense and quality of primeval alchemy that is the very fabric of the novel. It is not enough to merely chart out the unfolding of events and the representation of characterizations…

    But I won’t fault anyone for taking it on and I can’t say I wouldn’t want to be involved. Such is the power of the work.


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