Cold Mountain Balderdash: Being Propagandized While Entertained
During the Christmas holidays my wife and I, being empty nesters, took in more than our usual quota of movies. One such undertaking was seeing Hollywood’s version of Charles Frazier’s number one best selling book of 1997, Cold Mountain, starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Rene Zellweger. The acting and cinematography were superb. I expect the movie will get at least one academy award based on the performance of Rene Zellweger. It was also very entertaining. Cold Mountain is historical fiction based loosely on the experiences of one of Frazier’s Confederate ancestors during the “Civil War.” The movie follows the book fairly closely and is about a wounded Confederate soldier, who deserts late in the war and his odyssey in returning home to his sweetheart in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
My wife and I had a special interest in the movie because the 6000 foot Cold Mountain in the Pisgah Wilderness is only about 25 miles (as the crow flies) from one of our favorite places in the world, Hendersonville, North Carolina. The scenery in much of Western North Carolina is often breathtakingly beautiful, but much to the chagrin of North Carolinians, most of the movie was filmed in Romania. But the historically knowledgeable North Carolinians and other Southerners have reason not to be altogether pleased with either the book or the film. It is a good story, more of a love story than anything. In fact, more than one of my friends has called it a “chick flick.” But this cinematic love story is a piece of historical fiction thoroughly if subtly saturated with the Yankee version of history, that is to say, the false and politically correct version,
I find no fault that the principal character is a Confederate deserter. Everybody knows there was plenty of that on both sides, and especially near the end of the war. However, the movie does get in few good dialogue pitches implying that the war was mostly about slavery, that Confederate soldiers were fighting a rich man’s war, and other balderdash. Yet that is by no means the worst of it.
In our Confederate deserter’s adventurous odyssey, he encounters a number of sexual temptations. I am sure that many authors and movie producers now think it necessary to present the most salacious and puerile details of such encounters in order to sell books and movie tickets. Literary and cinematic art fall to a new level of cultural degeneracy each year. Both the book and the movie are fully modern in this respect. An aspect many Southerners may resent is that many Southern country folk are depicted as astonishingly morally depraved. This fits nicely into a cherished Hollywood and publishing establishment stereotype of poor, white Southerners. The book and movie also do not fail to present yet another example of degenerate hypocrisy among the Southern clergy, another cherished stereotype of the enemies of the South and Christianity.
Frazier, a native of Western North Carolina, based part of his story on four graves found on Cold Mountain. Two of these were of a fiddler and a retarded boy said to have been killed by the local North Carolina Home Guard. While this may be true, Frazier’s novel and the movie, by centering on that incident, enormously distort the numerically prevailing reality of the historical situation. The North Carolina Home Guard consisted primarily of young boys under sixteen, men over 55, and disabled veterans. Their leaders were hand picked by Governor Zebulon Vance, a native of Western North Carolina. Contrary to the movie, the Home Guard did not go around shooting Confederate deserters. They did try to round up deserters and send them back to the Confederate Army. Most of their time was spent desperately defending their home counties from Kirk’s Raiders, a Union Army band of guerillas famed for their ruthless killing, robbing, burning, pillaging and destroying. Kirk, originally a Confederate deserter, had a commission as a Union Colonel. His murderous band consisted of both Union regulars and Confederate deserters from East Tennessee. They were basically a regiment of common criminals employed by the Union Army to harass the civilian population of Western North Carolina. Cold Mountain turns the preponderant facts of history upside down and makes the rather heroic Home Guard the villains. Such is the nature of Union history in the form of entertainment. It must fit the PC agenda of the conquerors and modern liberals.
The Reconstruction has not ended. By a corrupted version of history, and of literary and cinematic art, we are constantly inundated with demeaning propaganda about the War and the South. The problem is that so few modern Southerners know the truth; we cannot discern truth from lie, or history from propaganda. Let us resolve to know the truth and make it known to our posterity and the world. Honor and duty deserve nothing less.
January 20, 2004
Mike Scruggs lives in Birmingham, Alabama. He may be reached for comment here.