Movie Review: 'Cold Mountain'

by Rich Brooks

5 July 2004

"Cold Mountain" first made its appearance in theaters last Christmas and this Civil War film was favorably reviewed on VNN by William Spencer. It was nominated for several Oscars, and in fact Renee Zellweger won this year's award for best actress. Having missed the theatrical run, I eagerly rented the DVD when it was first released on video last week.

I must say that I was disappointed in the film. I share Spencer's sentiments about the War Between the States -- or the War of Northern Aggression as he prefers to call it - but "Cold Mountain" is not a pro-South film by any stretch of the imagination. Its protagonist, known only by the single name "Inman," is a confederate soldier who is a deserter, for Christ's sake! Director Anthony Minghella claims that the inspiration for this saga comes from Homer's Odyssey, but the only similarity to the Greek epic that I could see was that both are stories of a soldier making a long journey home from battle and encountering obstacles along the way. Odysseus was a war hero and his men had just been victorious; the stoic Inman, as woodenly played by Jude Law, is anything but heroic. He places his attraction (you can't really call it "love") for a woman above his love for his country and so quits the fight before it is finished.

In the first place, Inman never really believes in the Southern cause and reluctantly goes to war only because all of the able-bodied young men in Cold Mountain, North Carolina, are expected to do so. Inman is a man of few words, but somehow the very ladylike Ada Moore (Nicole Kidman) becomes instantly infatuated with this strong, silent type. Ada is a sheltered preacher's daughter who has just moved with her father (Donald Sutherland) from a privileged environment in Charleston, South Carolina to this remote hamlet in the Smoky Mountains. Sutherland is an actor who now plays older character parts, and he is a strong presence in the early part of the film. Unfortunately, he dies off very early, and things seem to drag for some time afterward. The action throughout the movie alternates between Inman's adventures after going off to war and the women and older men left behind on the home front.

Fortunately, Renee Zellweger makes an appearance as the down-to-earth tomboy Ruby Thewes, and breathes new life into the film. She richly deserves the Academy Award she received for her performance. The lower-class Ruby takes over the management of Ada's now rundown farm, and the two women manage to make it prosperous again. This is one of several scenes which seem inspired by "Gone With the Wind." Another is the initial enthusiasm of the young Cold Mountain boys to go off to war.

There is a subtext to this story I found very disturbing, and I'm surprised Spencer didn't pick up on it in his otherwise excellent review. The War Between the States is purported in this film to be fought over the issue of slavery, and the Confederate soldiers - mostly poor farmers who don't own slaves - are painted as dupes for greedy cotton kings who just want to keep their slaves. This is simply bad history, because we now know that greedy Northern industrialists had much more to do with instigating that war. The Southern home guard is likewise portrayed as villainous in attempting to track down and shoot deserters, and there is only one scene showing any brutality against civilians by invading Union forces. Clearly we get a very different take on that tragic war than in Ted Turner's excellent and pro-South "Gods and Generals."

Apart from ideological considerations, I thought "Cold Mountain" was far too long and moved much too slowly. It drags on for more than 2 12 hours and there simply isn't enough interesting material to fill that space. On the DVD there are an additional 20 or so deleted scenes, so it could have been even worse. Director Minghella is best known for "The English Patient," another long, and to my mind boring, story about an injured soldier. I think my problem with both of these films is that they are essentially "chick flicks," in spite of being movies about war. There are also feminist overtones in the Zellweger's depiction of the strong, capable woman in contrast to the weak, venal old men left at home during the war.

This ideological slant should not be surprising, considering that "Cold Mountain" is a thoroughly jewish production in spite of its Italian director. Producers are William Horberg, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, and Sydney Pollack and it was released by the Weinstein brothers' Miramax Studios. It is true that it has an essentially all-White cast, but the message conveyed is anything but pro-White.

Movie Notes: I am happy to report that the Al Pacino film "People I Know" will finally be released on video July 20. Even though it has an all-star cast, it was abruptly taken out of its limited distribution after receiving positive reviews from White Nationalists. Even though it was jew-made, it apparently hit too close to home for comfort in depicting corrupt jewish power. I look forward to seeing it, and hope it hasn't been re-cut too badly.



Visit Mr. Brooks's White Alert here.

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