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NC-17? Hell, Ridley Scott Says His 'Blood Meridian' Adaptation Would Have Been "Double X" Horrific

by Charlie Schmidlin
October 25, 2013 9:15 AM
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While this weekend's two notable releases--“Blue is the Warmest Color” and Ridley Scott's “The Counselor”--had us contemplating the explicit and aberrant examples in film from years past, it should be noted that the “Gladiator” director could've brought both to the big screen in a big way--if only a studio would touch it. He's still made history by making Cormac McCarthy's first original screenplay into a chatty and not entirely successful oddity, but in a recent interview, Scott touched briefly on his quashed adaptation of the author's best known and most grisly work.

Before McCarthy sold his first spec script for Scott eventual film, the director was heavily involved in developing an adaptation of the author's 1985 novel “Blood Meridian” with screenwriter Bill Monahan (“The Departed”). But as Scott said in a Time Out interview, “[Studios] didn't want to make it. The book is so uncompromising, which is what's great about it.” Described as an “anti-western,” the novel follows a teenager's terrifying and often brutally violent run-ins with a gang of scalp hunters roaming the U.S.-Mexico border, and the pale, hairless man named Judge Holden that rides with them. But as compelling as that sounds, Scott says the film's content would put it over the edge of decency for most. The novel is more of a horror story than anything else.

“It would have been rated double-X”, he said. “It's Hieronymus Bosch, the way McCarthy describes the first time you see several hundred horses with bones and feathers on them, and you can't see a rider until you're staring at the Comanche. It's horrific. He writes in visual images which are spectacular, so it suits me down to the ground.”

Indeed, even with the success of “No Country For Old Men,” the reception and general burying of “The Counselor” suggests that studios are still wary of fully getting behind McCarthy's output. But Scott makes a habit of always finding himself attached to a excess of projects at any one time, and next he hinted at his long-gestating sci-fi tale “The Forever War” saying it's “written and sitting right here.” Scripted by D.W. Parker (“Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”), the Joe Haldeman adaptation focuses on the human race's shaky grasp on time as they return to Earth after an alien war, and Scott described his influences for wanting to tackle the film.

Stanley Kubrick's “2001” was the door that opened up the possibility of science fiction for me,” he said. “Everything else up to then was fine, but didn't quite work for me. Then George Lucas did the one and only 'Star Wars,' which absolutely blew me away because it was also romantic and a fairy story. The elegance of 'The Forever War' fits in with that. I don't want it to slip sideways into being a “spacey” movie. I'll go back to the reality of '2001' and let normality be a part of the story."

When that story is finally seen remains tentative, but for now you can catch “The Counselor” in all its gonzo glory in theaters now.

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  • James | July 13, 2014 5:24 PMReply

    A ferocious and bleak work of prose that will find it's audience ,though making it an effective work will require a cast of actors that will take some finding .
    The player of the judge will be the make or break of this movie and I concur with the choice of Day lewis or perhaps Russell Crowe ,maybe michael
    Shannon too ,I don't see many out there with the gravitas and intensity of performance .

  • Scott | July 1, 2014 2:36 AMReply

    It may fail, but I would love to see people try to make it over and over again.

  • Davo | June 23, 2014 9:24 PMReply

    They said that 'The Road' could never be a film.

    They were wrong.

    I would love to see Blood Meridian in the hands of capable director.

  • Cam | June 10, 2014 2:47 AMReply

    Anyone who attempts to make this book into a movie is setting themselves up to fail. It positively cannot be done. Period. Plain and simple. No one will EVER be able to convey the themes from the page into an image, because everyone will only concentrate on the violence. Because that is how people are. Even the most attuned cinephiles will not understand the meaning of the violence. They won't understand it. All they will "see" are dead babies hanging from a tree... This movie is just one of those rareities that truly cannot be done. By anyone.

  • Deep purple | February 16, 2014 1:56 PMReply

    Hollywood is making Blood Meridian with Adam Sandler as The Judge and Chris Rock as a new character, for comedic value, and Kate Upton as a love interest and a happy, decisive ending, and George Cloony will gain 100 lbs to play Tobin and Matt Damon will lose 100 lbs to play the kid and they will all co-produce and give themselves Academy Awards and don't forget the Blood Meridian Happy Meal ...

  • bob | November 24, 2013 6:50 AMReply

    Good, because I will do this movie.

  • kyle t. | October 26, 2013 11:52 AMReply

    I whole-heartedly believe Blood Meridian should be John Carpenter's first, truly "traditional" western.

  • Rhandull | May 23, 2014 3:10 AM

    No...hole hard Ed Lee.

  • Kyle T. | October 26, 2013 11:52 AM


  • Mass | October 26, 2013 3:39 AMReply

    Scott already managed to somehow mess up McCarthy's first written for the screen narrative, so yeah, best not to let him also mess up McCarthy's best novel. Scott is always all style and no substance, so when I heard he was directing it I knew from the start it was doomed to fail.

    One of these guys below I wouldn't mind directing the BM adaptation:

  • mass | October 26, 2013 5:05 PM


    I love how you conveniently leave out any examples of filmmakers who's filmographies are littered with sloppy work. The Duelists, Alien, and Blade Runner were fantastic films. Great concepts with brilliant executions. In regards to Alien and Blade Runner, style and substance. Then we had to wait a few films later for Thelma&Louise. Also really good. Then the plethora of crap till 2012's Prometheus. Films like Kingdom of Heaven, Robin Hood, Body of Lies, American Gangster, Black Hawk Down... total snoozefests. I mean the style is there with most of those films. Wonderful costumes, sets, cinematography, great actors.... but there's just nothing to it in regards to raw substance.

    You using some ridiculous ad hominem that I'm either dumb or blind because I hold a different and common opinion about Scott is just typical for rabid fans who can't possibly defend said subject. Can't win me over with his work, so you slander me with your ad hominem's. Congratulations.

    Masterpiece. Dear lord. I would love to see your face after watching a film like Apocalypse Now.

  • macatae | October 26, 2013 11:45 AM

    Absolute crap, Ridley Scott has had to put up with your lazy and incorrect assessment of his films since The Duellists. Your either too dumb or blind to really see his films, compare to all the other directors many of their films are littered with sloppy work yet pass unmentioned. I guess some people can look at a masterpiece and see a blank canvas, you seem to be in that group.

  • Mass | October 26, 2013 3:38 AMReply

    John Hillcoat
    Mel Gibson
    Andrew Dominik
    Steve McQueen
    Derek Cianfrance
    Coen brothers

  • mass | October 26, 2013 5:07 PM


    Or better yet: Benicio Del Toro as THE JUDGE

    I can see it.

  • Kyle Harris | October 26, 2013 1:07 PM

    I think Danny Huston would play a perfect Judge Holden. He is a british actor and tall. 30 days of night, the proposition. I like James Badge Dale and Scoot Mcnairy cast along with maybe Ben Mendolsohn and maybe even Joaquin Phoenix if he could straighten out his shadiness.

  • Kyle Harris | October 26, 2013 1:02 PM

    John Hillcoat or Andrew Dominik would be perfect

  • Mass | October 26, 2013 3:39 AM

    JUDGE: Mark Pellegrino
    THE KID: an undiscovered talent
    LOUIS: James Badge Dale
    CAPT'N WHITE: Jason Clarke
    JOHN: Scott McNairy

  • DANIEL PLAINVIEW | October 25, 2013 8:16 PMReply

    who could play the judge ?

    philip seymour hoffman

    daniel day lewis

    roger ebert saw tom noonan in the role

  • George | October 25, 2013 11:21 AMReply

    D.W. Parker wrote Edge of Tomorrow. Hansel & Gretel was scripted by Tommy Wirkola.

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