The 1930s-era Depression was not the only thematic setting that made the cinematography of Road to Perdition stand out in stark contrast to its 2002 contemporaries. Directed by the legendary Sam Mendes, this early 2000s Tom Hanks film is one of the few movies that is truly cinematic in its visual storytelling. The afterthought left behind decades after the film’s release almost elevates it to the likes of a Monet oil on canvas – hazy in the details yet striking enough to imprint with tangible clarity on the viewer’s mind. The tragedy then lies in the fact that not enough people remember the film, let alone appreciate its artful cinematography.
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Tom Hanks Grieves His Forgotten Classic: Road to Perdition
Adapted from a graphic novel of the same name, 2002’s Road to Perdition was a starter pack of Hollywood greatness. Featuring for the last time the works of two extraordinary artists of their time, Paul Newman and Conrad Hall, the movie was set to be a definitive hit upon release. But history has recorded a rare few projects with the potential of becoming an instant classic that instead attracted highly divisive criticism from the audience of the time. Road to Perdition was one of them.
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Equipped with a cast that would now be considered a cherry-picked roster of delectable Hollywood A-listers, the adaptation remains a tragedy for Tom Hanks due to its forgotten status. The actor recently claimed:
“For one reason or another, no one references Road to Perdition, and that was an incredibly important movie for me to go through. It was shot by Conrad Hall, okay? It has Paul Newman. And you have me in it, Don Moustache with a hat on it, but you also have two guys who turned out to be two of the biggest motion picture presences in the history of the industry with Jude Law and Danny Craig. And I killed both of them.”
The film won two Academy Award nominations upon release – the last one for Paul Newman (in the Best Supporting Actor category) and a posthumous win for Conrad Hall (cinematography) who passed away a short while prior to the 75th Oscars in 2003.
Road to Perdition Deserves a Revisit By the Modern Audience
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To begin with, the film reads like a passion project from one of the greatest directors of our time, Sam Mendes, the individual whose visionary mind also produced the inimitable Skyfall. But beyond the talents behind the lens, the 2002 crime thriller carries heavy symbolism – something that would haunt and train the modern viewer’s mind with quickly executed violence, paradoxical human relationships, and overall lawlessness. In the words of Roger Ebert, “Road to Perdition is like a Greek tragedy, dealing out remorseless fates for all the characters.”
Not only will the pithy brutality of the plot linger on the fringes of the audience’s conscience, but deliver a peak into an era that was one of the scariest in American history – the Great Depression coupled with some of the brashest mob regimes in the Midwest. Besides, the presence of Jude Law, Daniel Craig, and Stanley Tucci should be reason enough to draw one’s undivided attention toward the forgotten masterpiece.
Road to Perdition is available for streaming on Paramount+.
Source: ReelBlend Podcast