Cold Mountain

Let me begin by saying that I would certainly not qualify as a "movie buff." To prove the point, the last movie I saw in a movie theatre before seeing Cold Mountain was Bull Durham. I can't remember exactly when that movie came out, but it must have been the mid eighties.

I had not heard much about Cold Mountain before it began its run in theatres on Christmas Day even though it had enjoyed a good run on the New York Times best seller list. I guess my interest began when I saw the pre-showing advertisements which alerted me to the fact that the movie was about the Civil War. I then went to the internet and learned that there were scenes in the movie depicting the battle of the Crater in Petersburg which I had just visited. The more I read about the movie, the more interested I became.

The biggest surprise I had while researching the movie and book was that Charles Frazier, the author, is a UNC grad. He is originally from Asheville and the General Alumni Association informs me that he graduated in 1973. He received his Masters Degree from Appalachian State and his PhD. from the other Carolina, the University of South Carolina.

For those not familiar with the story line of Cold Mountain, let's just say it's an account of a Confederate soldier who deserts after the battle of the Crater and walks home to his love who has remained on Cold Mountain. He encounters numerous exciting situations on his Odyssey and finally reaches Cold Mountain. I won't divulge the ending because some of you may want to see the movie and that would spoil it for you.

I saw the movie, then read the book and then saw the movie a second time. I thoroughly enjoyed all three. The movie has been well received by the critics and has been nominated for eight Golden Globe Awards. Some of the critics have commented that the movie appears to have been made with a burning desire to win awards rather than making a good movie, but what do critics know. I can't think of another profession (?) that is so unnecessary as a movie critic. I can't think of one reason why I need someone to tell me when a movie is good or not. One reviewer In Salon Magazine began his critique with the statement that the white Southerners in the Civil War sure did have it tough. He was being sarcastic and then followed up with a statement that there weren't enough blacks in the movie. To make the Southerner comment after seeing the movie would be akin to reading Genesis in the Bible and commenting on the story of creation by commenting on what type of apple Eve ate. Was it Golden Delicious or Granny Smith? Who cares? To comment on something like this puts on display for the world to see that the writer has missed the point of the story.

I tried to track Inman (conf. soldier) as he walked back to Cold Mountain and the best I can do is the following: He deserted from a hospital in Richmond after suffering a bad wound in the Battle of the Crater, went south until he hit the Cape Fear River which I believe does not go further north than Fayetteville, turned west and proceeded to Salisbury and then on to Cold Mountain. Cold Mountain is south of the highway that runs from Asheville to Waynesville and I think is now a part of the Pisgah National Forest. Cold Mountain was named by the Indians who inhabited the area before the white man came. for obvious reasons.

I may write later on my trip to the Crater. It was a weird feeling standing on the very ground where over 500 Confederate soldiers were blown to pieces and even more Yankee soldiers picked off after they marched into the Crater and couldn't get out. I could swear that I was told in Professor Klingberg's history class that the Crater was a Northern victory, but it was not. I could be wrong about Prof. Klingberg because I am very sensitive about the South and I could have misinterpreted his comments while he was trying to joke with us. Oh well. I'll tell the real story at a later date.

Addendum: One point has occurred to me after I sent this article to the web master. It is important enough to me, at least, that I would like to add it to the article.

Listen carefully, if you have not seen the movie and, try to recall if you have seen it, to the church congregation that was singing when the news of the war reached Cold Mountain. The harmonies in that singing was unlike any I have ever heard, but I have learned since seeing the movie that it is a form of gospel music unique to mountain folk. Most of us know that much of the mountain music which some call bluegrass had its origins in Scotland and Ireland. The connection between all of this is that bagpipes, the 5 string banjo and the singing are similar in that, in all three instances, there is a drone note which gives the music a mournful sound. Could anything sound any more mournful than "Amazing Grace on the bagpipes at a funeral? One other musical note. Nicole Kidman actually played the piano solos in the movie, and didn't Allison Krause's voice in the song she sung in the background at the Battle of the Crater resemble Kidman's which was exactly what was intended.

I going to close for real this time. It's pretty plain to see that I am enamored with both the book and the movie. I may have to get me a DVD player so I can watch it again when I feel the urge. Thank you, Mr. Frazier.