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adaptation cold mountain
As filming began, Minghella was impressed with Law's strength of will. "Jude understood that in the course of making the film he was going to have to endure nearly as much as Inman does," Minghella says. "We see him buried alive and emerging from the muck not once but twice. He's hunted, burned, shot at, wounded, tortured, dragged along in chains, drugged, doped, and faces both death and temptation, all while enduring every possible kind of privation." Scoring Cold Mountain - The Music
"I was prepared for the rigors of the role and happy to do anything it took," Law comments. "Ultimately this is a film about people in desperate situations in a time of great hardship and spiritual turmoil. But I also came to understand that it's a story about life, about finding a reason to live, and about how love is the ultimate goal."
finding cold mountain - the locations
One of the most urgent tasks for Anthony Minghella still lay at hand: finding locations where he could capture the lost American world of Cold Mountain, a place as awesomely beautiful as it was forbidding and savage, made up of dense forests, mossy swamps and hard-scrabble farms where nature and the weather were constant fores with which to be reckoned. Cold Mountain is set not only in a time of a war but in a time of untamed wilderness in America . In the 1860s, much of the terrain in the Southern U.S. was chillingly raw and remote - and survival both on and off the battlefield meant having an intimate relationship with the land. Only through revealing the majesty and fearsomeness of this real and metaphorical wilderness in which both Ada and Inman find themselves would the film be able to evoke the full power of Cold Mountain 's epic tale.
Minghella set out on a quest to match his vision of 19th century North Carolina with the utmost authenticity and realism. As the director explains: "Part of what intrigues me as a director is not only to capture the truth of a story, and the truth of an actor, but to support that truth in the most visceral and pungent way that I can in terms of environment and the most perfectly inflected vision of the characters' world I can find."
Thus, for nearly a year, Minghella and production designer Dante Ferretti searched for the right place to shoot the film. In the beginning, they went straight to Charles Frazier's home terrain, the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina . But, to the filmmakers' great disappointment, the area had changed too dramatically to work. The very trees themselves had been withered by heavy logging, and signs of modern life had encroached almost everywhere. " Asheville , and its surrounding country, are magnificent but there are very few period buildings and none had the characteristics we needed."
Minghella and the producers had to search anew for a locale - anywhere in the world -- that had somehow retained the untamed essence of Civil War America 's virgin forests. First, Minghella and Ferretti traveled to Canada but, to their dismay, they found Canadian forests were just as denatured as those in the US and were not an accurate match for North Carolina in the 1860s. It was then that luck stepped in when executive producer Iain Smith went on a walking vacation in Romania , travelling through the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania . To his amazement, Smith noticed that the landscape there seemed to resemble North Carolina - an untouched North Carolina -- and he immediately dispatched snapshots to Minghella and Ferretti to show off his find.
Minghella was impressed with the pictures, but he needed to take a look for himself, so he and Ferretti made their own personal trek to Romania . It was a revelation. Minghella says the landscape in Romania corresponded more closely to what the Cold Mountain area looked like in the 19th century than anything they had seen in America - or anywhere else in the world. "What struck us particularly was the incredible number and wonderful density of the forests," Minhgella says. "And it was full of snow and beautiful," Ferretti adds. "We made a second trip during the spring and found out that it was perfect for each of the seasons we hoped to capture in all their majesty on film."
What also impressed the filmmakers was a sense of travelling back in time to a more simple, primal, land-based way of life. In rural Romania , the world was rough-hewn, handmade, subject to the constantly shifting vagaries of weather and nature - just as North Carolina would have been when Inman, Ada and Ruby lived there. Sums up producer Sydney Pollack: "Ironically, by going to Romania we were able to make a far more authentic film than if we had tried to do it in the U.S. "
The filmmakers were pleased to learn there is even a Transylvania county in North Carolina , not far from the actual Cold Mountain , a fact that underscores the similarity between the two regions.
Minghella took this as yet another sign that they had found the best possible location. "We were disappointed, of course, by having to abandon North Carolina but at the same time, we were very excited by the opportunities Romania held out for us," he comments.
In the end the production shot not only in Romania but also on numerous locations in the Southern United States, including South Carolina and Virginia -using authentic pre-Civil War era buildings to add further authentic touches to the film's evocative landscapes, and using verdant, murky Botany Bay for the film's haunting swamp scenes.
recreating cold mountain - the design
In collaborating with the artists who designed the costumes, sets and visuals for COLD MOUNTAIN , Anthony Minghella had one priority: bringing Inman's and Ada 's separated worlds fully to life right down to the last haunting details. Minghella wanted to immerse the audience in life at the end of the Civil War, creating a picture of a starkly different American reality that nevertheless speaks eloquently to our own times.
No one felt this imperative more strongly than production designer and six-time Academy Award nominee Dante Ferretti, who has worked with many of the most visionary filmmakers of his generation, from Fellini to Scorsese. In the forested mountains and rural farmlands of Romania, Ferretti found a kind of ultimate easel on which to forge his own magnificent creations, literally building full-fledged American towns, Civil War encampments, traditional Southern farms, and even erecting 32 structures from the ground up to create the town of Cold Mountain. He also built Ada 's Black Cove Farm from scratch, transforming it from a tranquil home to its downtrodden state during wartime before becoming Ada and Ruby's hard-won triumph. Says Ferretti: "For me, the thrill was in capturing a wilder, richer, more primitive world than the one we live in now, to recreate an authentic sense of 19th century America ."
Comments Anthony Minghella on Ferretti's work: "What he has done for the film cannot be overestimated. The work is so authentic and so true to the time period that people may think we just went out and found some old farms. But the reality is that every single building on screen, with the exception of a few found in Charleston , was built and designed by Dante. He was absolutely extraordinary not only in terms of his vision for the film's design but in his extremely positive energy. He never had any creative boundaries and he really opened my mind to what was possible."
Academy Award winning cinematographer John Seale also did extensive research into the period, poring through historical "tin-type" photographs to get a sense of how the world was captured on film in Inman's day. But Seale wanted to avoid any artifice. Instead, the director of photography wanted an unvarnished sense of realism, so he took his approach to Cold Mountain scene by scene, using different filters and techniques to best capture each particular season and mood as they shift throughout the film.
"We didn't want to push too hard in the stylised direction," he explains. "We decided to go fairly clean. I chose to use two different negative stocks: one has a little more contrast for the scenes in which Inman is travelling so the hardships he endures are depicted very clearly. Then, we used a softer negative stock for some scenes at the end of the film and for those scenes with Ada and Ruby on Black Cove Farm. Throughout, we decided to use only sources of light as they were in the 1860's: from daylight, sunlight, clouds, moonlight, ambient night light, candles, oil lams and fires."
The one photographic sequence in which Seale took the visuals a little further was the spine-tingling Battle of Petersburg - a battle so fierce and deadly it seemed almost impossible to portray it expressionistically enough. "Paintings of the battle depict how smoke from the massive explosion permeated the atmosphere, so I went a little wild in the scene with tobacco reds and colored filters to get the look of burnt sienna, and the feeling that the place was thick with burnt gunpowder, blood and dirt," Seale explains. "It resembles what witnesses have described experiencing on that fateful day."
Having collaborated with Anthony Minghella on "The English Patient," for which he won the Oscar, and "The Talented Mr. Ripley," for which he received a BAFTA nomination, Seale says this is by far their most complex work together. Adding to the complexity was the constant question mark of the weather in Romania , which could turn from nice to hellacious, from streaming sun to torrential storms, on a dime. These challenges brought Seale's talents even more to the fore. Says Minghella: "John not only was capable of creating beautiful light and imagery, but he fought the elements just like a soldier. We had every permutation of weather in a single day and he consistently delivered great stuff."
Still, Seale has only one overriding hope for his work on the film. He says: "I truly hope the photography is good enough to capture the extraordinary emotions that were there in each scene."
coming to cold mountain - the production
Anthony Minghella began filming Cold Mountain on July 15, 2002 , near the village of Potigrafu , just outside Bucharest , on a huge tract of farmland that had been transformed into the battlefield at Petersburg , Virginia . Production literally began with a bang, as the filmmakers re-enacted the famous Civil War battle known as the Battle of the Crater, which took place July 30, 1864 , resulting in an estimated 6,300 deaths on both sides and disaster for the Union . Frustrated by a stalemate in the Siege of Petersburg, Union attackers exploded a massive mine beneath the Confederate fortifications, blowing a gap in the Confederate defenses. Once the fuse was lit, 15,000 Union soldiers rushed in, only for thousands to be slaughtered in the resulting confusion. For hour upon hour, men fought one another in what became known as "the horrid pit." Expected to end the Civil War, instead the battle began another eight months of relentless trench warfare.
The Battle of the Crater is not depicted in Frazier's novel but becomes a key scene in the film, and a crucial turning point for Inman. The brutality, carnage and sheer waste of human life Inman witnesses during the fighting helps him decide to turn his back on the war, renounce bloodshed, and start homewards towards Ada , who has pleaded for his return.
Taking nearly three weeks to film, the battle is one of the most powerful sequences that Minghella has ever shot, a key element of which was Dante Ferretti's painstaking set, a remarkable recreation that brought to life the battlefield in all its horrifying detail. "I went to Petersburg for inspiration because I wanted to get an exact feeling for what it was like there, for all the details," Ferretti says. "I wanted to see the quality of the light, to get a sense of the position of the sun at the start of the battle, where shadows were cast, and what the sky looked like later in the day, too, so we could recreate that as much as possible."
In Potigrafu, Ferretti and his crew dug trenches, laid railroad tracks, built fortifications and embankments, and even constructed a makeshift army hospital. Most notably, Ferretti and his crew recreated the battle's huge crater, a replica of the original measuring from 30 to 50 deep feet deep in different places, and approximately 170 feet long by 60 to 80 feet wide. A smaller crater was also dug for footage that was to be shot closer in. The blast, which signals the start of the battle (and killed some 350 soldiers instantaneously), was engineered by the film's special effects technician Trevor Wood. Wood used 4,000 liters of petrol, 100 kilograms of high explosive, and a quantity of pyrotechnics positioned on steel plates on the ground in a mixture that also included sand, dirt, wood chippings and bits of bark. Minghella and Seale used four cameras to film the blast, and resultant fireball, and got it in one take.
To further achieve heightened realism, rather than hire extras, the production obtained the services of the Romanian Armed Forces, employing over a thousand Romanian servicemen, divided into Federal and Confederate troops. Three military and historical experts, Brian Pohanka, John Bert and Michael Kraus, were on hand to serve as technical advisers.
The production's Civil War historians and reenactment specialists paid close attention to detail to assure that the fighting styles depicted in all the battle scenes were all true to the times. "The way Civil War soldiers held their weapons is very different from the way soldiers do it today, because the weapons were heavier, longer and far more unwieldy," says adviser John Bert. "Each move was set down in a manual called Hardee's Light Infantry Tactics. They involved the shoulder arms, the right shoulder shift, and the bayonet charge. These elaborate drills were one reason for the military disaster of the battle. The technology of weaponry had evolved more quickly than tactics, and the Federals, screaming and charging aggressively into the pit, bayonets thrust forward, weren't prepared for the onslaught of the Confederates on top of them."
The Romanian soldiers responded with great enthusiasm to their training and, even though the weapons were new to them, they executed the moves with precision and exactitude. What's more, they looked remarkably right. "Romanian soldiers are much younger and thinner than their American counterparts," Pohanka says. "And in that respect they really resemble what soldiers looked like in the Civil War, when Americans were much more gaunt than today."
After the battlefield sequences, the unit packed up and departed Bucharest , traveling more than a hundred miles north to the town of Poiana Brasov in Transylvania , in what is known as the Transylvanian Alps , where all of the other location filming in Romania took place. Here, near the town of Rasnov , Dante Ferretti constructed from scratch Black Cove Farm, a traditional 19th century American farmhouse surrounded by fertile fields, stables, barns, out houses, slave quarters, a corn crib and flower gardens. Scenes of the Reverend and Ada taking Inman on a tour of their farm were shot here, as well as those depicting the death of Reverend Monroe (Donald Sutherland), and Ada alone in the house in the period after her father's demise. … MORE
Cold Mountain and the Civil War Civil war overview
Anthony Minghella - writer/ director