On The Road is a novel adapted from his diary by Jack Kerouac. It is the story of two men escaping the city to travel across the United States, from New York to California and a lot of places in-between. Kerouac adapted it into the On The Road novel, with Sal Paradise created as his alter ego. For Walter Salles, the film shouldn't be a problem, after he directed the story of Che Guevara and his friend, Alberto Granado, travelling across South America in The Motorcycle Diaries.
Walter Salles and The Motorcycle Diaries
For many fans of Jack Kerouac and the On The Road book, a proven track record and prior experience on a similar film would be the least expected for a director hired to create a film version. It seems that Francis Ford Coppola, who bought the rights to the book in 1979, has chosen the right man in Walter Salles, as there are a lot of similarities between On The Road and The Motorcycle Diaries, and Salles did an excellent job with the latter.
The two motorcyclists travelled high into the Andes, and Salles did an excellent job in capturing the beauty, majesty and cold isolation of the great mountain range. Salles also captured the humanity of the main character well, as Che learnt about humanity and society; switching between emotions of awe, humour, sadness and awakening.
Che Guevara and Jack Kerouac Similarities
Salles's work on The Motorcycle Diaries should have provided a useful rehearsal for his directing of On The Road; without implying that the latter is a more important role.
As with Salles's depiction of Che in The Motorcyle Diaries, Kerouac's Sal Paradise is also a larger than life character searching for meaning in humanity and the world while escaping from his regular life.
Kerouac, through the Sal Paradise character, also professed a great appreciation for the nature he saw passing from his transport. And, of course, both films are derived from diaries.
First Images of the On The Road Film
2011 began with the exciting news that the filming of On The Road had been completed. This was news that fans of the book had been waiting for; some for decades. Of course, not just any film version, but one that does the book and Kerouac justice.
The first images from the On The Road film, seem to suggest that Salles is on the right lines. While they are not much to go on just by themselves, combining them with Salles's work on Motorcycle Diaries makes you think that it is certainly promising.