James Franco loves his literature. After adapting — and, at the hands of a publisher, briefly co-optingFaulkner, he quickly moved on to another grizzled, tough-as-leather voice of the American outback: Cormac McCarthy, whose Child of God served as the source material for a soon-to-be-released writing-directing endeavor. (One which, for the record, we found much to admire in.) For years, he’s also had the ambitious hope of adapting Blood Meridian — both the No Country author’s greatest work and, more broadly, one of the most-lauded of post-war novels.

If you’d ever wondered what Franco‘s version might look like, consider this your lucky day: over at his blogging haven, Vice, he’s posted a 32-minute screen test composed some three years back. This, possibly the closest we’ll ever get to Blood Meridian in cinematic form, stars Scott Glenn, Dave Franco, Luke Perry, and Mark Pellegrino as the novel’s notorious Judge, and proves a rough-hewn piece of work — the sound is awfully sparse (and not in the sense one would typically describe McCarthy as “sparse”), while certain cinematographic elements (e.g. an over-abundance of shaky-cam) distract — but one with stirring moments and effective turns all the same. To call it good for a test reel is a back-handed compliment, so I’ll elevate it a notch and say that real, genuine promise is to be found herein; considering the material at hand, that’s a real achievement.

What do you think of Franco’s experiment? Could Blood Meridian be given proper cinematic treatment, and does this point toward as much?

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