root - Posted on 09 June 2004

The movie Cold Mountain excises all the struggles of African-Americans in the Civil War


My name is ErikTodd Dellums. I am a Black man, a professional actor and a semiotician and film lover. I am therefore underemployed, under-appreciated and an afterthought in Hollywood.
I am also a man who rarely sees an accurate depiction of Black people and American History in film and on television. It's something I've grown used to, but now I'M MAD AS HELL AND NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

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 decision 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 Weinstein Brothers (owners of Miramax, the distributors of "Cold Mountain" are smart, astute business men with keen cinematic sensibilities. They should know better. I ask, could you imagine "The Pianist" or "Schlinder's List" ever being made with but 30 seconds of the reality of The Holocaust? Of course not. A film with such a gross misrepresentation would never make it past page one of a screenplay! And in reality, isn't The Holocaust, which occurred a mere two generations or so ago, "rawer" emotionally than slavery?

Every year, the Academy Awards give a documentary about "The Holocaust" it's award and every year Hollywood releases sumptuous, hauntingly beautiful films about "The Holocaust." And every year I go. Why? Because I love film. And I love the truth. But there must be some reciprocity somewhere. I have attempted to sell stories to Hollywood -- true stories -- from our history as Black people during the years of slavery. The response from Hollywood, "I saw something like that already in "Roots". What an insult! Why are we as a people always an afterthought? We must let Hollywood know that we deserve respect. How do we? By not giving them the pleasure of our dollars.

Let a boycott of "Cold Mountain" begin our response to Hollywood: tell our stories; tell the truth and we will come. And if Hollywood has a problem with that, simply say, "I'm not going, because I saw a film like that already!"

Erik Todd Dellums

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