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Book vs Movie: Cold Mountain

Updated on November 11, 2014

How Good the Adaptation?

I read anything and everything. Books have taken me to fantastic places and shown me different cultures and made me think in different ways. Therefore, I have grown fond of these rectangular vessels of treasure.

When one of my treasures is selected to be made into a movie, my first reaction is a cringe and a groan: they will ruin it, I just know it!

However, that isn't always the case. And while the novel is usually the winner in my book (groan!), Cold Mountain was one adaptation that did justice to its roots.

Photo is from the cover image of the movie from


What's My Criteria, You Ask?

...and it's fair question. How is it that I judge myself worthy of judging the work of others?

Well, I don't. This is an opinion and that's all. I am not an expert on books nor am I an expert on movies. I know what I like and I like to talk about it. That's it. An opinion.

What I do like are opinions that are fair and balanced and can be articulated well enough for others to understand. You don't have to agree with me, just understand where I'm coming from.

In my opinion, movies should enhance the experience of the book. When you read Gone with the Wind then see the movie, if you look at that long-shot of Tara and find yourself nodding and muttering "That's exactly how I pictured it," then that's an enhancement. When you see Robby Coltrane as Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, do you shout "Yes! That's him!"? That's an enhancement. When you've just seen Dead Man Walking and walk out of a movie theater with the same sinking feeling you had after reading the book, that's an enhancement.

I don't care if the screenwriter got the dialogue of the book perfectly (I think that only happens in A Christmas Carol) or if the movie ending is given a different twist (as in The Horse Whisperer, which I thought was actually an improvement from the book), I want it to FEEL right. Did the moviemakers make me believe that their film represents all that is good from the book?

All That Was Good From The Book

Charles Frazier's Civil War drama is masterfully written. According to the author, he wanted the reader to feel as if they were truly in that time period: homespun clothes, stilted manners, and colloquialisms of the time. This he has done well in a stark tale of the realities of a war that left a nation divided even at its conclusion, shredding the social fabric of the South and battering two lovers in its wake.

Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain

It is tender and brutal in turn. A realistic depiction of how America of the 1860s was and how its people endured one of the most horrible wars in our history.


All That Was Good From The Movie

They got it right. The fear, the longing, the hardships and pain are all brutally and lovingly exposed. At a time when survival was hard enough, Ada (Nicole Kidman) must learn to survive a war that rages at her doorstep, turns neighbor against neighbor, and strips her world of any comfort it had while her beloved Inman (Jude Law) must endure the stark realities and horrors of a war that can never really be won, far from his home and far from Ada.

Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain

The performances are raw and believable (although too much make-up on the beautiful Kidman is distracting - a woman of that time would not have looked like that, even one with station). Renee Zellweger is fantastic - the best she has ever been.


The Cold Realities of War

What Is Your Opinion?


Since this is an opinion piece, please give me yours!

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    • dbitterman profile image

      dbitterman 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Me too. I've only found one movie I thought was actually better than the book and that was "The Horse Whisperer." Still, I like the exploration.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      More of a book reader than a movie watcher to begin with. I am biased...