Based on what he calls his favorite novel, James Franco shot a 25-minute test reel for an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s (“The Road,” “No Country for Old Men”) “Blood Meridian” a couple of years ago, releasing it now on Vice to correspond with the release of “Child of God,” another McCarthy adaptation by Franco. He is coming off of a successful run of “Palo Alto,” for which he stars and wrote the source material. Franco made this “Blood Meridian” piece just as any other student filmmaker, which he was at the time, might have. It employs only natural light, as in the flicker of a campfire in early scenes, and he even had to cast his brother (Dave Franco, “Now You See Me”). He accompanied the video release with a statement. The full video is below.
In honor of “Child of God’s” release on August 1st, I’m posting a 25-minute test I did for the film version of Blood Meridian. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is my favorite novel. It marks the midpoint of his career, between the Southern Gothic stories of his Tennessee days (he grew up in Tennessee and went to the high school with painter Josh Smith) and his later border-based stories (The Border Trilogy, No Country for Old Men, The Road) after he moved to Texas and then to New Mexico.
In some ways Blood seems un-filmable. It is almost Biblical in its lapidary. His terse prose utilizes vocabulary only found in the crannies of annals of the Old West and the specialized spheres of working men. He captures the slang of forgotten peoples so deftly, it’s as if they were his barroom friends.
I made my test for Blood Meridian three or four years ago. It stars Scott Glen, Luke Perry, Mark Pellegrino (Lost), and my brother, Dave. We shot it in three days in some place near Yosemite that is the Mule Capital of the world. If you know the book, you’ll recognize that this is the sequence where Tobin recounts how the Glanton gang met the Judge, a Satan-like character and Glanton’s right-hand man. The gang was out of gunpowder and about to be caught by Apache warriors, whereupon they would be killed for lack of working weaponry. Enjoy.
“Child of God” opens in select theaters August 1 and hits VOD October 28.