Eastwood’s directorial talent shines in ‘Bridges of Madison County’ | News, Sports, Jobs


NEW ULM – For the past four months, the New Ulm Film Society has explored the directorial career of Clint Eastwood, and this Tuesday will take a scenic detour with a screening of “Madison County Bridges.”

The screening will take place on Tuesday, August 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the New Ulm Public Library.

“Madison County Bridges” is a romantic drama based on a book written by Robert James Waller.

Set in 1965 Iowa, the film tells the story of an Italian war bride, Francesca, played by Meryl Streep, who is alone on the farm for several days after her husband takes their children to the Iowa State Fair. A photojournalist named Robert Kincaid, played by Eastwood, tries to make his way to a covered bridge he’s been commissioned to photograph for National Geographic.

The two soon fall in love and have a passionate affair, but the relationship is destined to be short-lived.

“Madison County Bridges” is a departure from Eastwood’s previous work. He was known for his westerns and crime dramas, not his romantic dramas. Although Eastwood had already won the Academy Award for Best Director, he was far from the first-choice director.

Several screenwriters and directors have been brought in to adapt the book into a film. The novel was hugely popular and many names were considered for the director. Steven Spielberg originally purchased the film rights to the book, but planned to produce the film and have someone else direct.

But finding a director proved difficult.

Eastwood first became attached to the film as an actor. Spielberg had wanted Eastwood to play Kincaid, and Eastwood liked the script written by Richard LaGravenese. However, the first director preferred a different script, causing a creative difference.

Rather than delay filming further, it was decided to let Eastwood direct and star. It was also Eastwood’s idea to cast Meryl Streep as Francesca.

By this time, Eastwood was already known as an effective director. His films usually arrived under budget and on schedule. “Madison County Bridges” turned out to be no exception.

Eastwood managed to save money by filming in Iowa using real covered bridges, reducing the cost of sets. The film also ended 10 days ahead of schedule.

The film was a success after its release, with a respectable box office take, but also critical praise for the direction. Several critics felt that Eastwood’s direct directing approach kept the story on track. The film was shot in chronological order, allowing Eastwood and Streep to slowly build chemistry as a couple, making the ending even more heartbreaking.

Streep also praised Eastwood’s management. During one scene, Eastwood’s character cries, but as an actor he turns away from the camera.

Streep questioned why he was filming this way, as it took away his chance to shine as an actor. Eastwood felt the scene worked best without seeing him cry directly. Streep was impressed with his ability to put the film’s direction ahead of his acting performance.

Tuesday’s film screening is free to the public.



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