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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: "Cold Mountain" Wash. Post Style Review

Hey Tony,

Your Mom sounds very wise. And, while I fully agree that no-one should rely on the movies for their information about what is true, your very own (fascinating) story supports the importance of presenting as much historical truth as possible in the movies. You were very lucky to have a mother like yours, who broadened your horizons so that you could become the truth seeker you are today. But a lot of folks don't have mothers like yours, and a lot of folks never are taught that the media is anything less than the gospel truth about reality. So every time a film maker choses to re-enforce public ignorance of history by repeating the same small version of reality that most of us were taught in school, they miss a really important opportunity to broaden horizons for people who didn't have mothers like yours.

All of which means nothing if a filmmaker chooses not to broaden horizons. I'm just disappointed in someone like Minghella, who is smart and sensitive and makes more interesting films than most people do. I would have expected more from him - but obviously I was wrong. But its really not a question of spitting on anyone's sacrifice to boycott movies that are less than we would like them to be. Since movies, like most things in this world, are about business and making money, boycotting a film and talking publicly about why is an excellent way of addressing an issue and creating the possibility for change. Many of my friends are filmmakers, and the emails that I forwarded to them about boycotting Cold Mountain probably made them think about issues that they might not be thinking about otherwise. That dialogue will then carry on into their work life and may in the long run have some effect, for instance if any of them ever get to make a film that has the potential to be more honest about history or less honest. So the dialogue and the concept of using our film going ticket buying dollars to speak our minds seems to me to be quite important. Its really not about blaming, which is fruitless, but about changing things and taking responsibility for speaking up against the evasions and lies that our culture is often built on.

And, as I said, I don't even advocate not seeing films because I don't like their content. I actually think it is important to see them eventually, so that I know what I am talking about. I just won't see them in a first run theatre situation, when my money is a vote of approval for them.

My memory of Unforgiven was that Morgan Freeman's character was a rancher of some sort, with his own farm or ranch, while it was Clint Eastwoods character who was in the gunman business. While ranching may not technically be counted as a cowboy, for most easterners with little knowledge of cowboys, that is how his character would read. And again, I think that what we present in movies is far more important for those whose sole information comes from the movies, than for those, like your children, who are encouraged to glean it from elsewhere. But a lot of people are not very interested in cowboys and wouldn't bother to read much about the old west, but they would go to see an academy award winning film, just as they would go to see a love story with pretty people in it. And if in the course of seeing that film they see a black cowboy, or black rancher, when in no other place in their life have they encountered that image, it has served an excellent function of opening their eyes. Cold Mountain could have done the same service and seems to have chosen not to. Thats too bad. Thats all. And its important to say out loud that that is too bad, which is all that we are doing by discussing and boycotting.



18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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