This Civil War saga addresses romance, friendship, and the ravages of war--both in the field and on the home front. Captures the horrors of war for both those fighting it, and for those left behind. This is a tale of hope, longing, redemption, second chances, and faith. Written by
An insert of a "crow" is shown, sitting on a fencepost. It's a grey-and-black Hooded Crow (Corvus corone corvix), common in Eastern Europe (where the film was shot), but unheard of in the southern US (where the story is set). See more »
Dear Mr. Inman, I began by counting the days, then the months. I don't count on anything anymore except the hope that you will return, and the silent fear that in the years since we saw each other, this war, this awful war, will have changed us both beyond all reckoning.
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Anthony Minghela's (writer/director) Cold Mountain is a carefully
constructed, sensitive, and intelligent drama set in the social context
of the confederacy during the civil war. It deals with the politics of
the war in a very subtle and realistic manner. While it accurately
depicts the brutality and inhumanity of that war, it also does
something that many films related to this period do not handle
effectively - Cold Mountain studies the southern context from the
inside out, and portrays changes among the non-slave owning common
people wrought by the war. Almost uniquely, Cold Mountain does not
over-generalize southerners, northerners or anybody else.
The film surfs through genres as needed - never presenting a dull
moment. It is a romance, a war story, an action-adventure and
historical fiction, all nicely woven into one.
The story centers on Inman (Jude Law) and Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman),
who are smitten with each other for very simple reasons. As this young
romance begins to bud, Inman enlists in the confederate army, taking
with him a book Ada has given him and a photograph of her. Ada's
character is one of the most brilliant aspects of the film, which is
important because the audience experiences this film from a third
person perspective, but the story is clearly hers from the beginning to
the end. Ada is an intelligent southern belle and daughter of a liberal
minister. She begins the film as a daddy's girl skilled in many of the
arts that southern women who have been surrounded by servants most of
their lives were expected to learn. In other words, as she admits to
Ruby Thewes (Renee Zellweger), she is a master of everything useless.
Ada's father passes on, and she is left to manage his modest estate by
herself. With no experience of this sort, she struggles, and survives
by holding the memory of Inman close to her heart. Ruby enters the
picture as a tough young woman who has been raised by a drunk and
negligent father. Ruby has all the skills and abilities Ada lacks, and
as they become inseparable business partners, they grow to love one
another as best friends. Inman's experience is radically different, but
something of a mirror image. During his participation in the war, he
sees many friends killed for causes they don't really believe in, and
decides to desert. Nobody he meets comes to his rescue as he begins the
thousand mile walk back to Cold Mountain and Ada, and most of those he
The bulk of the film takes place during Inman's long walk, following
both of the protagonists as they live, learn, grow and change. An
on-going act of will borne of desperation preserves their intense
passionate love. For Inman, it is his only source of hope in a world of
pure desperation. For Ada, it is very much the same thing, but also a
symbol and remnant of the old south - a world which is rapidly passing.
The cinematography is powerful and breathtaking. There are beautiful
shots of Appalachian landscapes which give the film a strong sense of
history. The script and editing are also extremely strong - emphasizing
the broad class and educational differences reflected in the ante
bellum southern dialects of the middle and lower classes. With the cast
of this film, nothing short of perfection should be expected. And the
cast, mostly, rises to the occasion. My one criticism, however, relates
to the accents adopted by Kidman and Law's characters. An Australian
and a Brit probably should not be expected to accurately reproduce
southern American speech, but there are a few occasions where these two
exceptionally gifted actors produce distracting vocal slips. I admit my
oversensitivity to this, and can say with some confidence that it won't
bother most people. Zellweger's performance is outstanding and she
creates a character I will remember into my senescence.
Very highly recommended.
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