Set in the south of the United States just after the Civil War, Laurel Sommersby is just managing to work the farm without her husband Jack, believed killed in the Civil War. By all accounts, Jack Sommersby was not a pleasant man, thus when he returns, Laurel has mixed emotions. It appears that Jack has changed a great deal, leading some people to believe that this is not actually Jack but an impostor. Laurel herself is unsure, but willing to take the man into her home, and perhaps later into her heart...Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
The origins of Sommersby began when, Richard Gere and his production company partner Maggie Wilde, began searching for projects which he could be involved in from the beginning and retain some control over. One of the scripts he found was Nicholas Meyer's Sommersby which had recast the sixteenth-century French legend into the era of the American Civil War. Gere discovered that the script was controlled by the co-producers of Pretty Woman, Arnon Milchan and Steven Reuther. He contacted them and it was not long before the production was underway. Gere was to star in the film himself and they chose Jodie Foster as the leading lady. Foster had recently won an Oscar for her role in The Silence Of The Lambs. Bill Pullman and James Earl Jones were also cast as the love interest and courtroom judge respectively. See more »
African American men held important positions, such as the judge portrayed by James Earl Jones, during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. See more »
Underrated Civil War drama with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster
Released in 1993 and directed by Jon Amiel, "Sommersby" stars Richard Gere as a Confederate soldier returning to his rundown estate in Tennessee and his wife, Laurel (Jodie Foster), after a long six years absence. Curiously, Laurel discovers that the war has changed Jack for the better. Bill Pullman plays his rival for Laurel's affections while James Earl Jones appears as a judge in the final act.
This is such a well-done Civil War drama, taking place just after the war in 1866-1867. The story is contrived, but executed believably with convincing performances. Contrived or not, something like this COULD happen, if you reflect on it. I can't say more because it's best that you go into the movie without knowing the revelations of the final act. The first half is low-key, but it's just a foundation for the realistic thrills of the mid-point and the suspenseful drama of the closing act.
The film runs 114 minutes and was shot in Virginia with the opening winter scene filmed at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort, West Virginia.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY ***SPOILER ALERT***
A clueless reviewer criticized the film on the grounds that "this story fell a bit flat for me when Jack, for some reason, doesn't tell the same (true) story (that clarifies the identity confusion) to the court, that he does to his wife in the final jail scene."
This is incredible because the movie plainly reveals several reasons why Jack didn't want to tell the truth that he wasn't really Jack Sommersby: (1.) The freed blacks and others who bought & farmed parts of his land would lose it; (2.) his wife & daughter would be condemned as an adulteress and a bastard child respectively; (3.) he "buried" Horace Townsend forever when he buried the real Jack Sommersby; he wasn't willing to "resurrect" that wicked loser, even at the cost of his life.
And (4.) If jack was proved to be Horace, and was released, another court would have arrested him on the grounds that he was a liar, an impostor and a thief. That court would NOT have released him on the grounds that he had found love and done charitable things while impersonating a dead man. He would have gone to prison and possibly even died for his actual crimes.
So dying for a cause he believed in, for people who respected him, made more sense than dying without any honor or legacy whatsoever.
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