Winter's Bone (2010)

R | 100 mins | Drama, Melodrama | 2010

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HISTORY

According to onscreen credits, Winter’s Bone was filmed entirely on location within the Christian and Taney counties of the Ozark region in Southwest Missouri. A 30 Apr 2010 NYT article about director Debra Granik, who started her career studying documentary filmmaking and based her first feature, Down to the Bone (2004), on a woman she knew, describes the significance of authenticity and neo-realism in her work. Granik’s adaptation of the novel Winter’s Bone , with writing partner Anne Rosellini, stayed so close the its source that author Daniel Woodrell, as cited in the same NYT article, reported feeling “overwhelmed by how faithful the film is to the novel.” Woodrell, a Missouri native, was inspired to write the story after observing a young woman try to feed herself and two children with $7 at a convenience store, as described in a 10 Jun 2010 LAT article.
       The importance of local culture in the story, along with Granik’s admittedly limited “connection to that region,” compelled the crew to set up a base of operations in the town of Branson, Missouri before production, mining the area for cast members, locations, instruction in native customs, music, dialect and props, according to a 11 Jun 2010 NYT review. The production team spent two years immersed in the area, casting the role of “Ashlee Dolly” with the daughter of the Thompson family, who lived at the location used for Ree’s contested homestead, and even keeping her real name for the character. In a 4 Feb 2011 HR interview, Granik mentions that the novel ... More Less

According to onscreen credits, Winter’s Bone was filmed entirely on location within the Christian and Taney counties of the Ozark region in Southwest Missouri. A 30 Apr 2010 NYT article about director Debra Granik, who started her career studying documentary filmmaking and based her first feature, Down to the Bone (2004), on a woman she knew, describes the significance of authenticity and neo-realism in her work. Granik’s adaptation of the novel Winter’s Bone , with writing partner Anne Rosellini, stayed so close the its source that author Daniel Woodrell, as cited in the same NYT article, reported feeling “overwhelmed by how faithful the film is to the novel.” Woodrell, a Missouri native, was inspired to write the story after observing a young woman try to feed herself and two children with $7 at a convenience store, as described in a 10 Jun 2010 LAT article.
       The importance of local culture in the story, along with Granik’s admittedly limited “connection to that region,” compelled the crew to set up a base of operations in the town of Branson, Missouri before production, mining the area for cast members, locations, instruction in native customs, music, dialect and props, according to a 11 Jun 2010 NYT review. The production team spent two years immersed in the area, casting the role of “Ashlee Dolly” with the daughter of the Thompson family, who lived at the location used for Ree’s contested homestead, and even keeping her real name for the character. In a 4 Feb 2011 HR interview, Granik mentions that the novel and script had been written with two brothers for Ree, but after noticing Ashlee reappear in rehearsal footage, they changed the character to a sister so she could be cast in the role.
       Audio commentary by Granik and cinematographer Michael McDonough on the DVD release of Winter’s Bone adds other non-professional actors and members of the community to the list of individuals who played significant roles in the film, including Isaiah Stone as “Sonny Dolly,” Billy White as “Blond Milton,” Sgt. Russell Schalk, an active army recruiter based in Missouri and Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, whose personal experience as a local contributed to his lines as “Thump Milton.” Schalk, Hall and many other cast members received onscreen credits for additional dialogue due to their intimate knowledge of the area and its vernacular. Professional actors in leading roles, including Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes and Dale Dickey also hail from the Midwestern and bordering states, bringing their own familiarity of custom and dialect to their characters.
       Utilizing local and non-professional resources was also necessary to produce the film with limited funding. According to an 8 Dec 2010 Var news item, an unnamed production company that had committed to financing Winter’s Bone with a larger budget pulled out just before shooting began, but Granik was able to complete the picture within a budget of $2 million. Granilk, in her audio commentary, emphasizes that she got the film to work only through the generosity of the community. The burned house used as the location for the rumored scene of Jessup’s death, for example, was provided by a local family despite the stigma attached to burned-out houses that identify them as meth labs. Granik and McDonough describe how the art department and costume designer borrowed and traded props and clothing from members of the community. Many sets were minimally dressed and shot as they were really lived in, including details such as fingerprints and refrigerator magnets evident in Teardrop’s kitchen. In a 25 Jan 2010 LAT article, Granik notes that the production was not warmly welcomed at the onset, but her research of the families she worked with helped to build trust and openness. Onscreen credits list special thanks to families and individuals in Missouri who helped integrate the production team of Winter’s Bone into their traditions and culture.
       Granik’s commitment to filming in Missouri and hiring the services of locals took precedence over shooting during winter, according to McDonough in his commentary, and although the title of the film indicates this season, the film was actually shot in twenty-four and a half days, from Feb to Mar 2009 despite the changes in weather. The tight schedule did not allow for selectivity about time and dates to shoot, and many days were extremely warm, presenting cast and crew with the challenge to convey a freezing climate. This effect was later enhanced during post-production, according to McDonough. For example, the climactic lake scene, which appears to take place at night, was shot primarily at midday in seventy-degree heat. McDonough explains that the lighting required for shooting the entire scene at night was not within the means of the budget. The end product was created by manipulating exposure time using digital film on a Red One camera, breaking the scene down into different camera angles shot at various times of day and interspersing close-ups that were shot at night. Granik mentions in her 4 Feb 2011 HR interview that the first version of the script was filled with references to snow, but upon realizing how difficult it was to manufacture, the word “snow” was universally removed from the text and extricated from the conditions of the production.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
25 Jan 2010
p. 9.
Daily Variety
8 Dec 2010
p. 1, 4.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 2010.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 2010
p. 4, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 2011.
---
Los Angeles Times
25 Jan 2010.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Jun 2010
p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jun 2010
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
11 Jun 2010
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
9 Nov 2010.
---
New York
14-21 Jun 2010.
---
New York Times
30 Apr 2010.
---
New York Times
11 Jun 2010
p. 1.
Variety
8 Feb 2010
p. 43.
Variety
8 Dec 2010.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
Addl dial
Addl dial
Addl dial
Addl dial
Addl dial
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
2nd unit dir of photog
Super 8 photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Red cam tech
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Cam intern
Cam intern
Cam intern
Dailies
Still photog
Filmed on the
Cam and lenses
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
1st asst ed
2d asst ed
Media tech
Addl ed
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
Addl ed, Edit Center
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Carpenter
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
Art prod asst
Props master
Props asst
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Ward prod asst
Ward prod asst
MUSIC
Mus research and prod
Mus research and prod
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Addl sd rec
Addl sd rec
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dial ed & ADR ed
Foley supv
Foley artist
Foley eng
Re-rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Smoke artist
Data mgr
Imaging and rec
Imaging and rec
Title des
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Key hair artist
Prosthetic FX
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Loc principals & extras casting
Casting asst & extras casting coord
Line prod
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Loc scout and community liason
Key prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set prod asst
Set intern
Set intern
Prod accountant
Prod office coord
Asst to the prods
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
Prod office intern
On-set tutor
Honeywagon driver
G/E driver
Insert car driver
Catering
at Abby Road Foods
Catering
at Da Barefoot Chef
Catering
at Golden Coral
Craft service
at Abby Road Foods
Craft service
Post prod consultant
Accounting services
Payroll services
Insurance provided by
Legal affairs, Winter's Bone Productions
Telecine services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Key stand-in
Key stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Digital intermediate by
DI colorist
DI prod
DI asst
Exec prod DI
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell (New York, 2006).
SONGS
"The Missouri Waltz" (1914), a.k.a. "Hush-a'bye, Ma Baby," words by J. R. Shannon, music by John Valentine Eppel, performed a capella by Marideth Sisco
"High on a Mountain" (1970), written by Ola Belle Reed, performed by Marideth Sisco with Dennis Crider, Kim & Jim Lansford, DJ Shumate and Billy Ward, courtesy of Midstream Music Publishers
"Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies," traditional, performed by Marideth Sisco with Dennis Crider, Kim & Jim Lansford, DJ Shumate and Billy Ward
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SONGS
"The Missouri Waltz" (1914), a.k.a. "Hush-a'bye, Ma Baby," words by J. R. Shannon, music by John Valentine Eppel, performed a capella by Marideth Sisco
"High on a Mountain" (1970), written by Ola Belle Reed, performed by Marideth Sisco with Dennis Crider, Kim & Jim Lansford, DJ Shumate and Billy Ward, courtesy of Midstream Music Publishers
"Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies," traditional, performed by Marideth Sisco with Dennis Crider, Kim & Jim Lansford, DJ Shumate and Billy Ward
"Farther Along" (1911), traditional, music & lyrics by J. R. Baxter and W. B. Stevens, performed by Marideth Sisco with Bo Brown, Van Colbert, Jessica Collins, Dennis Crider and Linda Stoffel
"On a Hill Lone and Grey" (1884), written by Beverly Francis Caradine, performed by Van Colbert with Bo Brown, Jessica Collins, Dennis Crider and Linda Stoffel
"In the Palm of His Hand," written by Daniel Parkin, performed by Dirt Road Delight, courtesy of Your Place or Mine Digital Music, LLC.
"Out of Sight," music & lyrics by Rick Reding, performed by Ralph Dienno, Mark Moling, Gary Moore, Rick Reding, Billy Ward and Steve Youngblood, courtesy of White River Music Company
"Missing You," music & lyrics by Rick Reding, performed by Ralph Dienno, Mark Moling, Gary Moore, Rick Reding, Billy Ward and Steve Youngblood, courtesy of White River Music Company
"I Saw Your Cross," written & performed by Backhoe Butchery, courtesy of Backhoe Butchery
"Blueline Murders," performed by Silence Free Style Free, composed by James Vincent Tassillo (BMI), published by Phoenix Cloak Sounds (BMI), courtesy of ACM Records
"In Memory of the Four Winds" (2000), performed by Steve Peters, courtesy of Steve Peters
"Frere Jacques," traditional, performed by the Bradleyville Lower School Band
"Wrong," written by Katherine Miller, performed by Lumatic, courtesy of Lumatic.
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PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
2010
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 11 June 2010
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Digital in selected theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Fujifilm
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a rural community of the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, two children, Sonny and Ashlee Dolly, jump on a trampoline and play in front of a small, homespun cabin while their older sister, Ree, hangs laundry. In the morning, Ree prepares a meager breakfast for her siblings and combs the hair of her vacuous mother, Connie. Walking the kids to school, she quizzes them in spelling and math. As she passes through the school hallways, Ree observes a parenting class and a group of Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) kids marching with rifles. Later, Ree brings her horse to her neighbor, Sonya, and, after admitting that she does not have the money to feed it, Sonya agrees to take it in. As Ree chops wood, Sherriff Baskin arrives at the Dolly home. Realizing Connie is nearly catatonic, Baskin informs Ree that her father, Jessup, placed their home as collateral for a bond when he was arrested for cooking methamphetamines. Learning that his failure to appear in court in one week will cause the family to lose their home, Ree assures Baskin that she will find Jessup. Sonny suggests that they ask their neighbors for some of the deer they recently skinned, but Ree tells him to “never ask for what oughta be offered.” Later, Sonya brings the Dolly family a box of food and inquires about Baskin’s visit, making sure Ree did not give any information on Jessup’s whereabouts. Ree begins her quest for Jessup by visiting her friend and teenage mother, Gail, but her request to borrow her husband’s truck is denied. She then goes to her ... +


In a rural community of the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, two children, Sonny and Ashlee Dolly, jump on a trampoline and play in front of a small, homespun cabin while their older sister, Ree, hangs laundry. In the morning, Ree prepares a meager breakfast for her siblings and combs the hair of her vacuous mother, Connie. Walking the kids to school, she quizzes them in spelling and math. As she passes through the school hallways, Ree observes a parenting class and a group of Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) kids marching with rifles. Later, Ree brings her horse to her neighbor, Sonya, and, after admitting that she does not have the money to feed it, Sonya agrees to take it in. As Ree chops wood, Sherriff Baskin arrives at the Dolly home. Realizing Connie is nearly catatonic, Baskin informs Ree that her father, Jessup, placed their home as collateral for a bond when he was arrested for cooking methamphetamines. Learning that his failure to appear in court in one week will cause the family to lose their home, Ree assures Baskin that she will find Jessup. Sonny suggests that they ask their neighbors for some of the deer they recently skinned, but Ree tells him to “never ask for what oughta be offered.” Later, Sonya brings the Dolly family a box of food and inquires about Baskin’s visit, making sure Ree did not give any information on Jessup’s whereabouts. Ree begins her quest for Jessup by visiting her friend and teenage mother, Gail, but her request to borrow her husband’s truck is denied. She then goes to her uncle, Teardrop, who tells her it’s Jessup’s choice whether or not he shows up in court. While menacingly loading a handgun cartridge, Teardrop cautions Ree against looking further or inquiring among his associates in the Meth-cooking trade. When she reminds him Jessup is his brother, Teardrop lashes out and grabs Ree’s throat. He then disappears, but his wife, Victoria, procures a small stash of cash for Ree before she leaves. Despite the warning, Ree proceeds to the home of Little Arthur, who tells her he hasn’t seen Jessup. Megan, another member of the Meth-cooking lineage, takes pity on Ree and advises her to see her grandfather, Thump Milton, who is the patriarch of the tribe. Ree continues despite her admission that Thump scares her most of all. Outside the Milton house, Ree encounters Thump’s wife, Merab, who tells her she’s come to the wrong place, but then motions her forward when Ree appeals that she’s Jessup’s daughter and they have the same blood. Merab inquires if Ree has men who can take on this task and when she says she doesn’t, she instructs Ree to wait. Upon returning, Merab tells Ree that Thump won’t speak to her because he doesn’t want witnesses and becomes enraged by Ree’s persistence. Back at home Ree is abducted by her neighbor, and distant cousin, Blond Milton, who takes her to a burned out Meth lab, claiming Jessup was killed there in the blow out. Knowing her father was famous for accuracy, Ree remains unconvinced. When Blond brazenly suggests he and Sonya adopt Sonny, Ree becomes furious, telling him the tall weeds growing at the site where Jessup was purportedly killed recently proves the story is a lie. Later, as Ree instructs Sonny and Ashlee to shoot, Gail shows up with keys to the truck. When Ree and Gail arrive at the home of April, Jessup’s former lover, the living room is bustling with a folk band and card games. April relates the last time she saw Jessup he was with three strangers and he looked through her, indicating something was terribly wrong. Back at home, Ree hunts squirrels with her siblings and teaches them how to skin them. As she loads a wood splitter, Teardrop arrives unannounced and says Jessup’s car was discovered, empty and burned out by a lake. Ree concludes her father is gone for good. Giving her money, Teardrop advises Ree to sell the homestead before the bondsmen claim it because Jessup failed to show up in court. When she refuses, Teardrop snorts meth and becomes angry when she shows no interest in taking drugs. On a walk in the woods, Ree begs her mother for advice, but is left without response. When the bondsman arrives, she tells him Jessup is dead. She learns the property value was not enough for the bond and a man paid the balance for Jessup’s release in cash. The bondsman gives her a week to prove Jessup is dead. Prompted by this new information, Ree tracks Thump down at a livestock auction and follows him home, where Merab throws coffee in her face and a gang of women beat her in the barn. When she comes to, Merab questions why she didn’t listen to her warning and Megan asks what they should do with her. Ree suggests they kill her, but Megan says that it has already been considered. Ree then proposes that they help her, but Megan says that they already tried by giving her warning. Thump grants Ree a chance to speak her mind, and she says that she can’t continue supporting the family, particularly if they become homeless. Teardrop appears as the barn door rises, announcing Ree is not responsible for her father’s sins and that he is taking her home. He vows to stand for her and make sure that she keeps quiet. On the ride home, Teardrop explains that Jessup didn’t want to go back to jail so he became an informant to Baskin, and this resulted in his murder. He elusively warns Ree to never tell him who killed Jessup. Back at home, Gail tends to Ree’s wounds and Sonya brings her painkillers. As Ree falls asleep, she asks Gail to make sure the kids have done their homework. The next day, Ree meets with an Army recruiter, inquiring about the $40,000 compensation for signing up, but after hearing her story he encourages her to stay home. In the middle of the night, Teardrop wakes Ree and takes her to a bar, anxious to resolve what happened to Jessup. A group of men threaten him, but Teardrop smashes their truck’s windshield with an axe. On the way home, Ree and Teardrop unsuccessfully search a cemetery for a fresh grave, and then get pulled over by Baskin. Refusing to get out of the truck while ominously cradling a rifle, Teardrop commands Baskin to divulge why he exposed Jessup and got him killed, causing Baskin to retreat. Some time later, Ree defensively greets a visit from Merab, who tells her she has come to “take you to your Daddy’s bones” in order to prevent further talk about their clan in the community. With a burlap sack over her head, Ree is taken at twilight to a location she’s told to forget. After paddling a boat across a murky lake, Merab tells Ree to reach down into the water to grab her father’s body. Merab instructs her to use a chainsaw and cut off her father’s hand, but despite her assurance that Jessup would want this Ree is incapable. Merab then saws the hand off herself as Ree holds on, sobbing. When she releases Jessup’s body after the hand is removed, Merab scolds her, saying that they need both hands, and Ree reaches back down in the water to repeat the procedure. Merab covers Ree’s shoulders with her coat when they are done. The next day, Ree delivers the hands to Baskin, telling him they were thrown on the porch the night before. Before she leaves, Baskin mentions that the only reason he didn’t shoot Teardrop during their face off was because she was there, and he does not want stories spread to the contrary about him backing away. Ree coldly assures Baskin that she does not talk about him. Later, as Teardrop presents Sonny and Ashlee with two baby chicks, the bondsman shows up at the Dolly home. He hands Ree the cash deposited for Jessup’s bail, convinced that it would not be reclaimed due to the circumstances of his murder. Sonny and Ashlee give Teardrop Jessup’s banjo, and he plays it despite his claim that he is not as good as his brother. He then turns to Ree and admits to his knowledge of Jessup’s killer, saying simply “I know who.” She offers the banjo to Teardrop as he leaves, but he tells her to keep it for him. Ree sits on the porch with her siblings, saying that she would be lost without them and promising never to leave.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.