John Hillcoat, known for directing films such as “The Road,” “Lawless,” and “Triple 9,” is set to adapt Cormac McCarthy’s renowned and brutal western novel, “Blood Meridian.” The exciting news comes with the revelation that McCarthy himself is writing the screenplay, marking their second collaboration following the film adaptation of “The Road.”
Considered by many as one of the greatest American novels ever written, “Blood Meridian” delves into the harrowing world of the human scalping trade in the Southwest during the 1850s. Over the years, this film project has proven challenging to bring to fruition, but Hillcoat has managed to breathe life into it. When discussing how he made the project progress, Hillcoat explained the close relationship he shares with McCarthy: “[Cormac McCarthy] has become a dear, dear close friend. And over the years, we discussed how he had lost control of Blood Meridian, and it was a mutual task to get it back because he knew how to crack it. A lot of people have tried without his input.”
Hillcoat emphasized the necessity of giving a project like this ample time to transition from novel to screenplay. He noted, “It has really been having the space to discuss it over a decade or more. Actually, I think it’s fifteen years we’ve been discussing it. That allowed it to come forth, and I wouldn’t let go.”
Regarding McCarthy’s involvement, Hillcoat acknowledged the distinction between a book and a film, but stressed the importance of capturing the essence of each medium. McCarthy had started an adaptation himself, and together, they discussed how to tackle the ambitious task of translating the story to the screen.
Set in the mid-19th century along the Texas-Mexico border, “Blood Meridian” follows the treacherous journey of a young runaway referred to as “the Kid,” who joins a ruthless gang of scalp hunters led by the sadistic Judge Holden. The narrative unfolds amidst the Glanton gang’s merciless pursuit of scalps and riches as they rampage through the unforgiving landscapes of the American Southwest. Initially hired by the Mexican government to exterminate Native Americans, the gang’s bloodlust and greed soon transcend their original mission.
The novel explores themes of violence, the nature of evil, and the delicate boundary between civilization and savagery. McCarthy’s stark prose and visceral descriptions paint a vivid picture of war’s gruesome realities and human cruelty. Through his haunting imagery, he captures the raw and gritty essence of the American frontier while delving into the darkest facets of human nature.
Over the years, notable filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, Tommy Lee Jones, Todd Field, Michael Haneke, and James Franco have been associated with the project. However, many believe that Hillcoat and McCarthy form the perfect creative team to bring this challenging adaptation to life.