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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Road

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The theological ambiguity underlying "The Road" (Dimension) is highlighted by a scene set in a ruined church.

As the two main characters in this moving but relentlessly grim post-apocalyptic drama take shelter in the abandoned sanctuary, alert viewers will note that, although its artwork is in shreds and its altar has been displaced, a cross-shaped window shines above the wayfarers with a light virtually absent from every other environment they—and we with them—have encountered.

That's about as much hope as this dystopian tale holds out in chronicling the desperate journey through a devastated America of a father, identified only as The Man (a mesmerizing Viggo Mortensen) and his son, called only The Boy (fine newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Traveling on foot along what's left of the interstate highway system, some years after the unspecified cataclysm that destroyed both the ecology and civilization, the pair encounter marauding cannibals, crafty thieves and a few shell-shocked survivors—most notably The Old Man (Robert Duvall), an aged, nearly blind prophet figure pondering the meaning or unmeaning of it all—on their way to what they hope will be a marginally better life along the coast.

Occupying the pitted no-man's-land between a Samuel Beckett play and "The Road Warrior," director John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a stark examination of one man's efforts to preserve, and pass on, humane values—to "carry the fire," as Joe Penhall's script terms it—a labor in which he is refreshed only by the instinctive goodness of his youthful companion.

Yet, in the excess of his love, the father indulges in a quasi-idolatrous exultation of the boy that, like the borderline-blasphemous sentiments expressed by other characters, would be completely unacceptable in a less extreme context.

The film contains complex moral and theological issues, grisly images, cannibalism and suicide themes, rear and brief partial nudity, a few uses of profanity and occasional rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

******
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother, the instructions of Ambrose and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Pope Francis said, “The Church gives us the life of faith in Baptism: that is the moment in which she gives birth to us as children of God, the moment she gives us the life of God, she engenders us as a mother would.”

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