An epic movie hits Aspen in Minghella’s ‘Cold Mountain’ |

An epic movie hits Aspen in Minghella’s ‘Cold Mountain’

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen Times Staff Writer

It is an epic time for epics.

Hollywood recovered from the likes of “Heaven’s Gate” with “Braveheart” and “Gladiator.” But those films came one at a time, with a few years in between for audiences to catch their breath.

Now, not only have the epics returned en masse, they have become must-see cinema.

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” all 200 minutes of it, is being touted as the first fantasy film with a shot at the best-picture Oscar. “The Last Samurai” is earning good reviews and big box office.

And here comes “Cold Mountain.” The adaptation of Charles Frazier’s 1998 Civil War novel opens this coming weekend. Aspen Filmfest’s Academy Screenings program will present “Cold Mountain” today at 5:30 p.m. at Harris Hall.

“Cold Mountain” has a pedigree to die for. Directing is Anthony Minghella, the British filmmaker who earned awards for “The English Patient” and further kudos for “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” The cast can only be described as epic: Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renee Zellweger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Natalie Portman, Brendan Gleason, Ray Winstone and more.

Like “The Return of the King” and “The Last Samurai” ” and most every other epic worth its salt ” “Cold Mountain” is centered around the battlefield. Set toward the end of the War between the States, the Confederate soldier Inman (Law) is heading home ” to Cold Mountain, N.C., and to Ada (Kidman), the woman whom he had just started to love before war interrupted. Before he gets back, Inman encounters a series of colorful characters in episodic fashion.

The 155-minute “Cold Mountain” opens with scenes from the war ” the bloody Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, Va. But much of the film follows Inman on his road home, as well as examining the relationship between Ada and Ruby (Zellweger), a spirited, can-do drifter who helps Ada run her deceased father’s farm.

In a shining review, Newsweek’s David Ansen calls “Cold Mountain” “a stunning, stately” film. Ansen praises it for being “the one film that addresses the psychological impact of war. With vivid precision it shows what war can do to a person, a community, a country.” Ansen makes special mention of Law, the 30-year-old London native whose remarkable performances have also enlivened such films as “Road to Perdition,” “Artificial Intelligence: A.I.,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Gattaca.”

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