The film is a coming home drama that utilizes the synergy of love and war. On the surface it’s about a Confederate soldier named Inman (Jude Law) and the gentle preacher’s daughter Ada (Nicole Kidman). The fires of their love barely kindled, they are ripped apart by the Civil War and spend the entire film finding their way back to each other. But on a much deeper level, it’s about the life journey of every man and woman, their struggles for survival and their dedication to a path that brings them full circle to a place they call Cold Mountain, home.
Those who have read the novel will notice that much is left out of the film and there are some things in the film not in the novel. But there is always some give and take between the two genres and Minghella holds true to the essence of the book. In fact he even achieves more of a balance between the masculine and feminine journey. In the film we see as much of Ada’s struggles as we do of Inman’s.
Like Earnest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell To Arms, both man and woman say farewell to the arms of war, but unlike Hemingway, they don’t say farewell to the arms of love. While the characters’ journeys do share some existential qualities with Hemingway’s characters, the selfless love of another is the paramount energy that keeps the characters on the path to home in Cold Mountain.
While Minghella edited out some of the book’s comic relief, he kept enough of it to balance a serious story with much needed laughter, and Renee Zellweger as Ruby provides much of that comedy in a down home way. She’s one of those characters you can laugh at and love at the same time.
So why not take that life and death journey through a civil war and not so civil peace beginning and ending at a snow covered Cold Mountain.
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