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‘Cold Mountain's’ Minghella is no romantic

Drawn to the idea that the characters are fated for each other
/ Source: Reuters

Filmmaker Anthony Minghella has made one of the year’s most anticipated love stories, but he says he is not a romantic.

The director of “Cold Mountain,” the U.S. Civil War epic starring Jude Law and Nicole Kidman, which opened nationally on Christmas Day, chose the project because it is the story of a journey and based on Homer’s “Odyssey,” the Greek tale written more than 2,500 years ago.

“I find myself in film after film after film being asked about love, and yet that is not something I feel preoccupied with,” Minghella, who also wrote the screenplay, said in a recent interview. “I’m not a romantic.”

His previous work includes “The English Patient,” another love story, and “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” a darker tale of getting away with murder and deception.

Lovers like ‘dormant volcanoes’
“Cold Mountain,” based on the novel by Charles Frazier, is set in the 1860s and stars Law as Inman, a Confederate army deserter during the Civil war who is sickened by the carnage of battle and heads home to the town of Cold Mountain, North Carolina, and his sweetheart, Ada, played by Kidman.

Before the war, the two fall deeply in love during a few brief meetings, and that spark of passion sustains them -- and the audience -- for most of the movie.

Audiences may yearn for a moment when the handsome couple fall into each others arms, but Minghella says he was more interested in what happens while Inman is on the road.

In fact, he said he was looking for a story about walking, pilgrimage and atonement when he was handed a copy of the popular 1997 novel based on the Greek epic.

When that happened, he took it as a sign. Minghella, a playwright, put aside his plan to pen his next project from scratch and started out instead to adapt the story based in the two journeys of Ada and Inman.

“She’s the place I’m headed and I hardly know her,” Minghella said, quoting Inman speaking about Ada. It is also a line which illustrates the appeal of the story to him.

Minghella said the two characters sense hidden depths in each other. “They are like dormant volcanoes,” he said.

Difficult journeysBut before they can erupt, each must overcome obstacles. Inman spurns offers by comely mountain maidens and proves his courage in challenges that could have been lifted straight out of “The Odyssey.”

Highly educated Ada, born in a town and now abandoned in a mountain village, takes her own spiritual journey and learns to know the land that she works with Ruby, the rough-edged, straight-talking woman played by Renee Zellweger, who comes to stay with her.

The path to love and the path home intertwine for Minghella in a sense of belonging.

“What constitutes home? What constitutes return?” he asked, musing on his own journey to make the movie as well.

He answered: “It is as much a spiritual destination as it is a romantic destination. It is about an idea of home, an idea of belonging.”