WHAT AMERICANS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT “COLD MOUNTAIN”
"Cold Mountain," the highly-promoted movie based on the best-selling novel, opens Christmas Day. Americans need to know that this film, set in Virginia and North Carolina against the background of the Civil War, the most wrenching period in our history and a time whose impact is still felt today, was shot almost entirely in Romania.
In a recent interview on the ABC newsmagazine show "20/20," Anthony Minghella, director of "Cold Mountain" and partner (with Sydney Pollack) in Mirage Enterprises, one of the film's producers, told Barbara Walters he shot the film in Romania because he had looked at locations all over the American South and could not find any large expanses which "had not been touched by the twentieth and twenty-first centuries." Anyone familiar with Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia knows that is completely untrue. What is true is that wages for workers in Romania are considerably less than wages anywhere in America. Interestingly enough, the producers of "The Patriot," the Mel Gibson movie set during the Revolutionary War, were able to find plenty of places in South Carolina which were apparently untouched by the nineteenth century as well as modern times.
There is currently a great deal of discussion about outsourcing and its impact on our economy. We are outraged that many companies have exported their customer service and technical support jobs to English-speaking foreign countries or that American furniture manufacturers now send American hardwoods to China to be made into furniture for the American market instead of making it domestically.
"Cold Mountain" is no different. This movie represents many hundreds of jobs, not just in Hollywood, but in the well-established communities of film workers throughout the Southeast and in the cities and towns in the region whose stores, restaurants, hotels and countless other small businesses would have benefited had it been shot in the part of our country where it is supposed to take place.
When such an American story is taken away from its roots it loses its soul. Those who have already seen the film and know the South say that Romania does not really look like the Blue Ridge Mountains, and have found other discrepancies as well. Daily Variety's December 8, 2003 review of "Cold Mountain" says it best: ". . . there is an intangible something missing . . . . It's impossible to say whether this stems from the fact that the film was mostly shot in Romania, from its being made mostly by foreigners, or from the variability of the accents by a significantly Anglo-Aussie cast, but there's something of a void at the bottom of things where bedrock ought to be."
You can send a message that these economic losses and artistic choices compromised in the name of saving money are not acceptable to Americans. Do not contribute to "Cold Mountain" profiting literally at your expense by buying a ticket (or buying the DVD or renting the cassette when they become available.) Because of its ripple effect throughout the economy, even if you are not directly employed in the film industry your job could still be ultimately impacted.
You can also send a message directly to the people responsible for the decision to take the production of this most American story and the many jobs it generated to a completely foreign country by writing the producers of "Cold Mountain:"
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013-2338
233 South Beverly Drive,
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
8899 Beverly Blvd., Suite 804
Los Angeles, CA 90048