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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