Civil War In The Movie Cold Mountain

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For this assignment, I chose to review the movie Cold Mountain (2004), which is based on the bestselling novel (1997). Set during the Civil War in Cold Mountain, North Carolina, this historical drama/romance follows the love story of a Confederate soldier, W.P. Inman (Jude Law), and a Southern belle, Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman).

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Just as the two fall in love, Inman is drafted and must leave Ada to tend her familys farm with her ill father. On the battlefield, Inman carries his letters and picture of Ada everywhere he goes; she is his only source of hope in all the horror. During the Battle of the Crater, Inman is injured and decides to desert the war in an attempt to make it home to Ada.

On the home front, Adas father passes away, leaving her to take care of the farm. Much like many of the poised and sophisticated wealthy young women during the time, Ada soon learns that she knows nothing about survival; she can speak Latin and play piano, yet she cannot grow her own food or take care of herself. Fortunately, a kind neighbor sends her Ruby, a poor farming woman who is well-versed in taking care of herself. With Rubys help, Ada not only learns how to survive and tend the farm, but she gains confidence in herself and her ability to be useful. Though Ada learns to do it on her own, she does not want to; she still longs for Inmans return home.

After a long, arduous trek and many brushes with death, Inman finally makes it back to Cold Mountain. The couple are overjoyed to see one another and a passionate night together, but it is short lived. Inman is shot and killed the next day by a Union guard on their journey back to the farm. He dies in Adas arms and she is devastated. The ending scene reveals that Ada has given birth to Inmans child, who lives with her, Ruby, Rubys husband, and their daughter on the farm.

I would consider Cold Mountain to be historically accurate. It depicts the Civil War in the way I picture it in my head: violent, devastating, and depressing. Both the scenes from the film and the lines that are said are filled with insight into the war. One quote from Ada particularly sums up the devastation caused by the fighting, What we have lost will never be returned to us. The land will not heal too much blood. All we can do is learn from the past and make peace with it (Minghella, 2004). Adas description of ?too much blood seems fitting to when you consider all the fatalities of the war. According to American Battlefield Trust, These achievements came at the cost of 625,000 lives–nearly as many American soldiers died in all the other wars in which this country has fought combined. The American Civil War was the largest and most destructive conflict in the Western world between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the onset of World War I in 1914 (McPherson, 2018, paragraph 2).

Something that stuck out to me was the lack of slavery in the film. It is well known that one of the major causes of the American Civil War was the issue of slavery. History explains, The Civil War in the United States began in 1861, after decades of simmering tensions between northern and southern states over slavery, states rights and westward expansion (2018, paragraph 1). However, there is little mention of the issue in the movie. Before he passed, Adas father had had some slaves tending the farm, but she had to send them away during the war when she ran out of money. If one thinks about it, though, it does make sense that slavery did not play a key role in Cold Mountain due to the geography. Yes, North Carolina is part of the South, but the film was set in a mountainous region where plantations likely would not have been successful. There are no plantations shown in the movie, only small family farms. I think the movie is more so a depiction of life for the characters in the town of Cold Mountain, rather than a depiction of life in the American South in general.

I am not quite sure whether I would recommend this film or not. I know that I personally cannot see myself sitting down to watch it again anytime soon. The only reason I might watch it again is to see my favorite character, Ruby, who is played by Renee Zellweger. She gives a truly one-of-a-kind performance, for which she won an Oscar for best supporting actress. While this movie does have wonderful performances by award-winning actors, I found it left me feeling disappointed.

As I was watching the film, I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster. It was both gruesome and depressing, tender and intriguing. The film was slow-moving, and I am not really into historical movies, so I probably would have turned it off had I not been writing a review. Though Cold Mountain may not have been my favorite movie, I appreciate its historical accuracy and the attention to detail that went into making it. I know of a few history buffs would love this movie, but Im too used to always getting a happy ending at the end of a movie.

References

  1. History.com Editors. (2018, September 13). Civil War. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/american-civil-war-history
  2. McPherson, J., Dr. (2018, October 16). A Brief Overview of the American Civil War. Retrieved from https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/brief-overview-american-civil-war
  3. Minghella, A. (Director). (2004). Cold Mountain [Motion picture on DVD]. USA: Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

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