Cold Mountain is the story of a man named Inman (Jude Law) and his journey back to Cold Mountain, North Carolina during the latter days of the Civil War (around 1864). The movie begins in 1864 with the Siege of Petersburg. Inman is shot and put up in the infirmary. The remainder of the movie switches back and forth between the present (from the time Inman is shot and decides to leave the war and head back home) and the past (when Inman is first introduced to Ada (Nicole Kidman)).
When Inman and Ada first meet (1861), Ada has just arrived in Cold Mountain with her father, Reverend Monroe. Ada and Inman fall for each other right away and for three years they write each other waiting for the end of the war.
While Inman journeys back home after being shot, Ada’s father eventually dies which leaves her to tend to the house alone. She struggles at first but a lady named Sally and her husband start to look after Ada. Ruby Thewes (Renee Zellweger) eventually shows up to help Ada care for the farm. Meanwhile, a man named Teague and his gang of bullies become the “law” of the town. He declares that a soldier who deserts the war or a civilian who hides a deserter is treason. Teague eventually kills Sally’s husband and two sons for hiding their sons who left the war. Inman finally reachs Ada in the end and after a reunion he is shot trying to defend Ruby and Ada. The story ends with Ada’s daughter from Inman, Ada, and her friends enjoying the peace the end of the war has brought.
The movie Cold Mountain was made in 2003 and based off the novel by Charles Frazier. The movie focuses on interesting aspects of the war outside of the warzone. The majority of it revolves around one woman’s struggle to regain some sense of normality after most of her world has crumbled apart due to the Civil War. The story also relates the tales of a soldier’s struggle to return home after fleeing, how civilians struggled to stay alive during the war in the South, and how soldiers who fled the war and those who took them in were treated by the law. I think this movie creates a perspective that is too often left out of Civil War memory. McPherson and Cooper discuss how, in the 1980s, the social aspects of the war began to be part of the discussion of the Civil War and how the war is remembered (McPherson and Cooper 2000, 6). This movie tells the rare stories of women’s experiences during the war, how they coped with the loss of their men, how they managed their homes and families, and their opinions about the war. The movie also discusses the price to pay for deserting the war and the consequences for hiding a deserter. I think it’s important that people view sources, movies, literature etc. such as this because these stories were integral components of the war experience for soldiers and civilians, particularly women. Audiences are able to broaden their understanding and knowledge of the war through a source such as this that expands beyond just military tactics or solely the experiences of soldiers fighting in the war.