Cover to Cover: Cold Mountain

Elizabeth Bell

Main Differences

In Cold Mountain, the most common differences between the book and the movie come in the portrayal of characters.
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Birch’s portrayal

In the book, Birch was seen as a naive innocent character. In the movie, though, he was confident almost to the point of cockiness. It is understandable for Birch to be naive or timid, after the violence that he witnesses, but confusion comes when he is portrayed as cocky in the movie. This gives audiences a different view on Birch and therefore the story as a whole.
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Ruby’s portrayal

Ruby’s portrayal in the movie and book was different. The book made Ruby to be very down to earth and someone whose common sense went to good use. Frazier makes it a point that Ruby’s poverty ends up rewarding her in the end. On the other hand, the movie focuses more on Ruby’s troubled life than it does on her good times. The lack of description, which happens between many book to movie combinations, leaves audiences with a skewed view of an important character.

Teague’s portrayal

Teague was another character that was portrayed differently in the book and movie. In the book, Teague was understood as a violent character because he killed Pangle and a few other men. On the contrary, Teague in the movie was seen as a stalker of Ada - especially when he makes a move on her at church. The producers did this because audiences like movies more when an antagonist such as Teague gets defeated by a protagonist such as Ada. Because Teague has such risky behavior, it gives audiences more of a reason to hate him.

Inman’s portrayal

In the movie, Inman was viewed as a hero. He defeats Teague’s crew handily, to Ada’s delight. In the book, though, his character was left for readers to decide. Readers struggle with the conflicting idea that Inman is haunted by nightmares of violence from the war but also ends up killing people at the end. The heroic nature of Inman seen in the movie gives characters an opportunity to fall in love with him.
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The Fight Scene

The fight scene at the end of Cold Mountain is the biggest plot difference between the movie and the book. In the movie, the scene is intricate and intense and serves as the climax of the story. In the book, it takes barely any time at all to explain the scene. The focus on the fight scene in the movie makes for a more dramatic ending for audiences.