Accents in Cold Mountain (the movie)

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Fri Apr 8 04:44:13 UTC 2005

The Cardozo Insider
Issue: 2/8/04

"A more serious flaw is shared by almost all the actors: although they are supposed to be from North
Carolina, not a single one is able to pull off the accent. Geography may be to blame, as the
combination of Australia's Kidman, England's Law and Winstone, Canada's Donald Sutherland (as
Kidman's father), and Harvard's Portman make for a linguistic goulash.

Listen to a John Edwards stump speech. Turn on Charlie Rose or Bill Moyers on Channel 13. That's
what North Carolinans sound like. There is a natural musicality in the cadence of their speech.
Kidman forces it, and the others don't really even come close. Worse, Zellweger (who mastered
Britspeak in Bridget Jones' Diary) sounds like she spent too much time watching Dukes of Hazzard
reruns. Remember Daaayzee Duke? The usually wonderful Philip Seymour Hoffman, as a defrocked
preacher, takes us into Blanche DuBois territory. Maybe this is all a bit nitpicky. It is a movie,
not real-life, after all. But the garbled dialects in this film take us out of the Civil War-era
South and transport us into 21st century Hollywood. I think it's time to read Charles Frazier's novel. "

Paul Frank
Chinese-English translator
paulfrank at

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