Sunday, December 28, 2003

Does Cold Mountain go to easily on slavery? 

A friend of mine forwarded me the following email from a person who identifies himself as "a Black man, a professional actor and a semiotician and film lover." Fair enough.

"...I am calling all people that truly care about honest representations of American History in Hollywood to standup and boycott the heavily promoted film, Cold Mountain. At a cost of $80+ million dollars and sporting a stellar cast and crew, this adaptation of Charles Fraizier's acclaimed bestseller opens Christmas Day everywhere and is being touted as the film to beat at the Academy Awards. It has generated glowing reviews for Disney, Miramax and all involved. It is also a sham; a slap in the face of African Americans everywhere, whose ancestors gave their lives in the Civil War, fighting for true freedom (sorry, President Bush!) from the most heinous slavery system known to modern man: the American Slavery System. How could a 3 hour film depict life in the heart of Virginia and North Carolina during the Civil War use 30 seconds of Black people picking cotton as its total reality of slavery during this period? In an article in the Washington Post, the film makers have said that slavery and racism were simply 'too raw' an emotional issue to present in their film. In other words, who would want to see a love story with the beautiful Jude Law and Nicole Kidman set in the reality of the Southern monstrosity of slavery.

"The film depicts one of the more important battle decisions in the Civil War; a battle in which the Union trained Black soldiers to tunnel under Confederate lines; a battle in which Blacks suffered their highest rate of casualties of any Union division in the fight! This is the great battle that opens Cold Mountain. You tell me if you spot ANY Black actors in the film fighting. It plays like Saving Private Ryan another film in which Black contributions to history -- namely the Battle at Normandy -- are completely excised from a major film. Shame on you, Hollywood. Shame on you!"

The author goes on at some length comparing Hollywood's documentation of the Hollocaust with the many fewer movies that realistically depict slavery, which is a diversion that weakens his argument. His basic point is very well taken, however. I'm not big on boycotts (although I did convert my alcoholic beverage intake entirely "coalition of the willing" products last winter), and I will probably see the movie, but I gladly help along his argument by posting it here.


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