‘Mudbound’ Director Dee Rees on Her Adaptation Process & Changing the Ending

     November 16, 2017

There’s a lyrical, almost dreamlike quality to Mudbound’s aesthetic – some might say Terrence Malick-like (i.e. drifting narration over stark yet beautiful farmland vistas). This imagery stands out especially when paired with the sad and ugly content Mudbound delves into – namely the racist conditions of the Jim Crow South. Two families – one white, the other black – struggle to make a living in the farmlands of 1940s Mississippi, each contending with the erratic conditions and prejudicial views of the time/area.


Image via Steve Dietl / Netflix

Filmmaker Dee Rees, adapting Hillary Jordan’s novel and rewriting Virgil Williams previous draft, crafts a timely look at how people under the same conditions can be driven apart by their own base, misguided views. The McAllan (Jason Clarke & Carey Mulligan) & Jackson (Rob Morgan & Mary J. Blige) families both have far more in common than differences and yet, because of their racial make up, the McAllans treat the Jacksons as ‘lesser-than’. When the Jackson’s son (Jason Mitchell) and McAllan’s younger brother (Garrett Hedlund) strike up a friendship, the tension between the families threatens to boil over into outright tragedy.

In the following interview with Dee Rees, she discusses adapting & rewriting Mudbound, changing the book’s ending, coming up with the look of the film and the timeliness of the film. For the full interview, watch above [Of note – there are some spoilers in the above interview]. Click here to read Adam’s review.

Here’s a list of what was discussed:

  • How much of the script changed when Dee Rees joined the project?
  • How many different drafts did she go through?
  • Did the script change after Rees cast Mary j Blige & Carey Mulligan?
  • What was the balance between fidelity to the novel vs. adaptation to the screen?
  • What prompted Mudbound’s ending change from the source material?
  • How timely does Rees feel the film is today?
  • How did Rees come up with the visual look for Mudbound?

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