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When Charles Frazier's debut novel "Cold Mountain" was first published in 1997, his story of a soldier's search for home and love in the last days of the Civil War quickly received rhapsodic acclaim. The book was based on family stories passed down by the author's great-great-grandfather.

For director Anthony Minghella, the book's mythic story of a 300-mile, life-changing journey was filled with emotion and revelation: "It appears to be a story about the American Civil War, and I don't necessarily have an interest in war stories. But then I realized that war was the not the issue. It's more about a man's return from war, the after effects of war, and the effects of war on the world away from the battlefield."

There was no doubt in Minghella's mind that he wanted to film "Cold Mountain," but it was essential to him to have the blessing of Charles Frazier. "Charles Frazier read the script and expressed a lot of contentment," says producer Sydney Pollack, "and everyone else who read it felt the same."

Progress began on several fronts simultaneously. The first order of the day for Minghella was to reunite his Academy Award winning production team from "The English Patient," without whom he wouldn't consider making a movie. Minghella said: "I felt very lucky to be able to have this team on board for this film. These are essential people for me, a kitchen cabinet of collaborators who are very demanding and expect a lot of me."

One of the most vital tasks remained before filming could get underway: The choosing of locations to capture the starkly rugged landscapes of "Cold Mountain." Deciding where to film "Cold Mountain" took on a particular urgency, and in fact Minghella says that he and Dante Ferretti spent the better part of a year looking for the right place to shoot.

Minghella and the producers began a search for a location that somehow had retained the untamed essence of 19th Century America in the 21st Century. The filmmakers were uncertain about the next step. But as luck would have it, "Cold Mountain's" executive (line) producer Iain Smith had been in Romania on a walking tour of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania. To his amazement, he noticed that the landscape there seemed to resemble North Carolina and he immediately dispatched pictures to Minghella and Ferretti. "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 in which we had to film."


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