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Apocalypse-Cinema2012 and Other Ends of the World$
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Peter Szendy

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264803

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264803.001.0001

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The Road, or The Language of a Drowned Era

The Road, or The Language of a Drowned Era

(p.101) Chapter 12 The Road, or The Language of a Drowned Era

Peter Szendy

Fordham University Press

This chapter focuses on the ability of music to step across the apocalypse. Thanks to its power of anamnesis, music can cross over the abyss of the interworlds to transfer and reinstall us with all our footing in what was annihilated or lost. Music is the postapocalyptic marker par excellence; it can grow unbearable with nostalgia and pain, as it is, for example, to the ears of the father in the gray screen adaptation of The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009), based on the eponymous novel by Cormac McCarthy. The film invents a scene over the course of which the father (Viggo Mortensen) discovers a grand piano in the house he's just entered with his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) on their search for food. The father crouches down, caresses the wood frame covered in gray dust. He cries and then falls to his knees, visibly overtaken by intolerable heartbreak. He hits his forehead against this cursed piano that, were one to caress only one or two of its keys, threatens to resuscitate a lost world that they are making such efforts to forget, a world that it is so difficult to grieve.

Keywords:   The Road, John Hillcoat, music, apocalypse-cinema, apocalyptic film, apocalyptic genre

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