Dear John

Dear John


Dear John

Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried
Director: Lasse Hallström
Genre: Romance, Drama.
Rated: M
Running Time: 109 minutes

"Wonderfully filmed romance that will have even the toughest of guys dabbing away at the tears" RADIO TIMES.. Based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe) DEAR JOHN tells the story of John Tyree (CHANNING TATUM), a young solider home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (AMANDA SEYFRIEND), the idealistic college student he falls in love with during her spring vacation.

It was two weeks that would change their lives forever. Soon after John (Channing Tatum - Public Enemies, G.I. Joe) and Savannah (Amanda Seyfried - Mamma Mia, TV's "Big Love") fall madly in love, their relationship is put on hold. With one leaving to complete his service, and the other to complete her college education, they pass the time by exchanging a continuous stream of love letters, until they can be reunited permanently a year later.

But when war breaks out, their separation is extended indefinitely. Will their relationship survive the greatest test of all: the test of time?

Directed by award-winning Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules, What's Eating Gilbert Grape)

SPECIAL FEATURES
- A Conversation with Channing, Amanda and Lasse Featurette
- Transforming Charleston Featurette
- Military in Movies: Dear John's Military Advisors Featurette
- Mr. Tyree , The Mule and Benny Dietz Featurette
- The Story of Breden Reed Featurette
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes
- Alternate Scenes
- Outtakes
- Alternate Endings
- A Conversation with Channing, Amanda and Lasse Featurette
- Transforming Charleston Featurette
- Military in Movies: Dear John's Military Advisors Featurette
- Mr. Tyree , The Mule and Benny Dietz Featurette
- The Story of Breden Reed Featurette

Dear John
DVD RRP $39.95
BLURAY RRP: $49.95



"What does it mean to truly love another?" The complexities of love are explored as the strength of a young couple's relationship and their devotion to one another is tested by forces beyond their control in the dramatic romance DEAR JOHN, directed by three-time Oscar® nominee Lasse Hallström (Best Director, The Cider House Rules, 1999 and Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, My Life as a Dog, 1985) and based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks.

John Tyree (Channing Tatum) is a handsome, soft-spoken Special Forces soldier visiting his father in South Carolina while on leave. Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried) is a beautiful, idealistic college student from a wealthy Southern family, home for spring break. John and Savannah are from different worlds, but through a chance encounter at the beach, the two meet and are immediately attracted to each other. Their meeting turns into a whirlwind two-week courtship, and their feelings quickly deepen into an all-consuming, passionate love. Each finds in the other something they'd never known they were missing. When John is forced to return to his deployment and Savannah heads back to college, the couple promises to write one another. Through a continuous stream of letters, their love continues to blossom and a deeply romantic love story unfolds.

As time passes, John and Savannah are only able to see one another sporadically. John's deployment overseas is extended, and Savannah's life back home continues on. As the world becomes a more complicated place, Savannah is constantly worried about John's safety, and John is torn between his dedication to his work and his desire for a life at home with Savannah. Against steadily increasing tension between their desires and their responsibilities, the couple struggles to keep their commitment firm. But when unexpected tragedy strikes back home, John's return provokes an emotional confrontation, and the couple is forced to discover whether their love can truly survive.

Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) and Amanda Seyfriend (Mamma Mia, TV's Big Love) star in DEAR JOHN, directed by Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Chocolat). With a screenplay by Jamie Linden (We Are Marshall) based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle), DEAR JOHN co-stars Henry Thomas (E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Legends of the Fall) as Tim, Savannah's protective family friend determined to see Savannah isn't hurt; Scott Porter (TV's Friday Night Lights); and Academy Award®-nominee Richard Jenkins (Best Actor, The Visitor, 2007, TV's Six Feet Under) as John's father.

DEAR JOHN was produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, and Ryan Kavanaugh, with executive producers Jeremiah Samuels, Toby Emmerich, Michele Weiss, and Tucker Tooley. Kenneth Halsband and Linden co-produced, with Michael Disco as associate producer.

The talented behind-the-scenes crew includes director of photography Terry Stacey, ASC, production designer Kara Lindstrom, editor Kristina Boden, composer Deborah Lurie, music supervisors Happy Walters and Season Kent, and costume designer Dana Campbell.

ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

The screen version of Dear John found its "spark" when producer Marty Bowen was given the manuscript of bestselling author Nicholas Sparks' novel before it was even published. "I found myself completely touched by it," says Bowen. "Sparks has a way of writing that allows you to get lost in this world, these characters, and the beautiful Carolina environment he paints. And there were certain twists in the story that I just wasn't expecting.

"When I finished the book," Bowen says, "my biggest concern was I just didn't feel like there was anybody actor-wise who'd really be able to pull off this 'perfect guy.' Part masculine soldier, willing to do whatever he has to do for his country, and then also this softer somebody who can fall in love with a girl completely and possibly be heartbroken by the experience."

Then Bowen thought of Channing Tatum. "I had seen Channing in several films, including A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints and Step Up," he says. "In thinking about it, I was amazed to see he had both of these characteristics. I thought, 'If Channing would want me to develop this, then it would be a project that would really excite me.' We gave the book to his representatives and Channing loved it. It was perfect for him." The film had found its dear John.With Tatum on board, Bowen and producing partner Wyck Godfrey (the duo also shepherded the blockbuster Twilight film franchise to the big screen) knew they'd found their next project. As the book Dear John became another in an incredible string of publishing hits for Sparks, the film began to gain momentum and take shape.

The producers turned to screenwriter Jamie Linden to adapt the novel for the big screen. They'd admired Linden's We Are Marshall and thought he'd bring great perspective to the adaptation. Interestingly, however, Linden actually initially passed on the project, not having had the experience of (and not being entirely comfortable with) writing a love story. "But I kept thinking about it," Linden says, "and couldn't get it out of my head." The film is by and large a romance, but what ultimately captivated Linden and became the way into the story for him was the relationship between John and his father, Mr. Tyree. Linden thought of a different way to handle the climactic father/son scene from the book, and that made him want to tackle the entire screenplay."In the book, [that scene between father and son] had been done in a very straightforward manner, where they're very open about their feelings," says Linden. Instead, he came up with the idea of furthering the story's use of letter writing by having John write a letter to his father; he then reads the letter to his father in their most emotional encounter. "I really wanted to see that scene get put on film," Linden says. "So to get that done, I had to do the entire movie." Linden's participation in the film was a go.

"Dear John is a love story between John and Savannah," Linden continues, "but it's also a love story between John and his dad. In that respect, I think it's got some depth, scope, and character that make it resonate."


DEAR DIRECTOR...

With a screenplay in place, the project took another great leap forward when the producers were able to sign veteran helmer Lasse Hallström to direct. Hallström's celebrated films are known for their rich look and feel as well as their characters' pervasive embrace of life's wonders, surprises and disappointments. Dear John's John and Savannah share some of the characteristics and resilience of such Hallström characters as the boy Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius) in Hallström's first international success, My Life as a Dog; Gilbert (Johnny Depp) in What's Eating Gilbert Grape; Homer (Tobey Maguire) in The Cider House Rules; and Vianne (Juliette Binoche) in Chocolat - all films that skirt easy sentimentality while still bringing great emotion to the screen. Says Bowen, "If you have a script that has a strong emotional arc and you want the film to be powerful and moving, yet not fall into the world of melodrama, then there's one director you want to get: Lasse Hallström. He's uniquely untroubled with the notion of trying to make things overly intellectualized, overly self-important, or overly melodramatic. Being in touch with emotions and being able to deliver that in an honest fashion - as opposed to trying to arc it for film - are what make him really, really special."

Describing what attracted him to the project, Hallström says, "Mostly my interest in Dear John was in the people, the story of these two kids who fall in love." He also says it was "to be able to tell an epic love story on a grand canvas, to portray the scope of it all.

"I'm always interested in character-driven stories," Hallström continues. "I'm interested in strong emotion and interested in trying to stay away from sentimentality, but I do like strong sentiment. It's a fine line, and I love to walk that line and see if I can handle it. I want to root it in reality and have it stay as real and as honest as I possibly can."

The entire cast sings Hallstrom's praises. Channing Tatum describes how he was "thrilled when Lasse came in and loved the script. He's so sensitive and gentle in this brilliant way."

"He's so focused," says Amanda Seyfried. "He listens to and sees everything that happens. And he's European," she laughs. "There's something about those Swedish people."

Richard Jenkins says, "Lasse wants to explore and find things that are not obviously there. He's a generous man who collaborates and is interested in performances that are really alive and real. That's what you always hope for when you begin a project."

"The main reason I wanted to work on this film," says Henry Thomas, "was because Lasse Hallström was involved in it. In my experience, when you work with big directors the mood is generally heightened, but this set was very relaxed."

And Hallström's collaborative spirit extended through every level of the production. For co-producer/writer Linden, Hallström was the "perfect person for this type of story because he has such naturally good instincts. He went through the script removing every moment he was afraid would veer into overt sentimentality. He wanted to allow the characters to speak in their silence and not talk about every little thing that happens."

Production designer Kara Lindstrom admires how "Lasse's curiosity created an extra layer of meaning to the whole filmmaking process, which is the basis for real collaboration. Of course he wanted good sets, but the important thing, for me, is that he wanted to know why they were appropriate or why I thought they would work. Once you start discussing at this level, work becomes a real pleasure." A faded sign in the Eastern European streetscape that reads "Chocolat" and the Swedish flag flying among others over the Afghan base camp are Lindstrom's homages to the director.


DEAR JOHN...

When thinking about his acting career, Channing Tatum hadn't pictured himself starring in many romantic films. "When you're growing up, you imagine yourself running around shooting and jumping from buildings," he says. "There aren't that many amazing love stories seen through the guy's point of view, so I thought this was a really interesting opportunity.

"Nicholas Sparks' work is very beautiful," Tatum continues, "but this story also had an edge to it that some of the other books didn't have. I figured it would be a lot of fun to do something a little softer, a little more quiet - just sitting and acting for once," he laughs.

In speaking about why John develops such a deep, quick connection with Savannah once they meet, Tatum says, "For the first time, he found someone that made him open up. I've met people in my life that have made me happy all the time, and I think that's what Savannah is for him. They're the people you can't stop thinking about - you want to be around them all the time."

Tatum did a lot of character preparation to take on his role. In exploring the film's characters and explaining why the taciturn John and vivacious Savannah are the way they are, Tatum points out that the defining differences between them are extensions of their different social and economic backgrounds. "Because his dad is [undiagnosed] autistic and anti-social, I don't think John learned a lot of social skills," says Tatum. "He's always been a sort of loner. In a way, he joined the Army to get away from everything he knew growing up - maybe even to get away from his father. I had the unique opportunity to work on an earlier army movie, G.I. Joe, and I got to know many soldiers. So many of them are just normal guys. They have a sort of quietness about them - there's always some stillness in their eyes." Tatum let his experiences with these soldiers inform his portrayal of John onscreen.

In addition to his military and character training, Tatum discovered a new love in his preparations for the role: surfing. John is surfing when the film opens, and Tatum wanted to do the surfing himself. "I'm from Florida," he says, "but I've just never been a surfer. It was amazing to go out for the first time with Mark, my coach. He said, 'There's not very much I can teach you other than just time - time in the water.' We would get up every day at five o'clock, be at the beach by five-thirty, and surf 'til nine. It was freezing. It was a real treat, though, to just watch myself get better. There's no rhyme or reason, you just start to feel it out. I'm totally addicted. I've got two boards of my own now and went out on the weekends while shooting."

For Hallström, who previously guided Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Tobey Maguire in early starring roles, Tatum brings to John "the qualities of being very smart and innovative and having a wonderful sense of humor and charm. He's able to capture a layer of improvisation that isn't in the script; his sense of humor is quite subtle."

In the film, "Channing was allowed to show his chops as an actor," Hallström continues. "He hasn't always had those kinds of parts where he could show his range, and he really has an amazing range."


DEAR SAVANNAH...

Savannah is the female lead in the film, and, as mentioned by Tatum, her background is more privileged than John's. She attends college and has a loving family affluent enough to own an old plantation with a horse farm and a beach house. But she is also idealistic and unspoiled, someone who volunteers her time - she is, in fact, working to help build houses during her Spring Break.

It's a richly-drawn, complicated role, and finding the right Savannah was a challenge for the producers. In addition to being emotionally demanding, they needed to find an actress who could play both the young and, as the story moves to the present, a more mature Savannah. Ultimately, they found their Savannah in acclaimed young star Amanda Seyfried.

As Linden explains, "Given the story, we worked hard in the script process to make Savannah as likeable as possible. Amanda is perfect casting in that regard because there's nothing sanctimonious about her at all. Her instinct is to fight the melodramatic moments that could develop in her character, and that's the right instinct.

"It needs to be emotional without being sentimental," Linden adds, "and Amanda knew exactly how to do that."

Describing her character, Seyfriend says, "Savannah's a good girl, a smart, open-minded young woman who doesn't take life too seriously. And she's a romantic, which is why she and John click so well. She falls in love pretty hard right away - it's a big deal.

"I don't think she's ever been in love before she meets this guy," Seyfried continues, "and she immediately begins to feel like she completely knows him, which is really beautiful. Unfortunately, she has to then deal with the transition from seeing him every day for two weeks to not seeing him at all, feeling completely alone without him and dealing with the fact that he's a soldier in danger."

Tatum echoes Seyfried's thoughts in describing their characters' attraction. "When John comes home and meets Savannah," he says, "I think he found for the first time someone who made him open up. She's someone he can't stop thinking about and wants to be around all the time. Savannah's quirky, and lovable self signifies to John what he loves about the world but doesn't know all that much about. She is pure and good, and he's never felt so accepted."

Of working with his co-star, Tatum says, "I just think Amanda's amazing and beautiful and brilliant. She came in and performed the audition differently - her work almost threw me because she brought in a sense of irony and humor that no one else did.

"And she's nuts," Tatum continues. "She's absolutely out of her mind, which I love," he laughs.Of his lead actress, Hallström says, "Amanda did a really great job adding her personality to the character. Her unpredictability was also very rewarding. She just has a way of avoiding clichés and obvious choices."

The filmmaker was thrilled with the performances of his romantic leads and their chemistry together. "It's been great to be able to work with fresh new actors," says Hallström. "To work with Channing and Amanda is inspiring and" - he begins to laugh - "rejuvenating for an old man."

Hallström also appreciated that the duo were open to improvisation, something he likes to explore when directing his films. "They enjoyed improvising a little bit throughout the material," he says, "so we always tried to do an improvised version of each scene. There are bits and pieces of their own words, their own impulses in the moment that have ended up on screen. They're both really honest in their performances, and absolutely real.

"I really want to feel that actors are involved on all levels," Hallström continues, "that they're free to share ideas and come up with ideas for the script and to improvise if they want to. Whatever it takes to keep a scene alive and fresh - that's my #1 rule."

Producer Bowen says, "Sparks' characters are lovers, but they also seem to be friends. There's a real connection between Channing and Amanda, not only as actors but as people. They're so playful, and when the camera starts to roll that connection is quite touching and very real."

"Channing and Amanda both have such a naturalism about them," adds Linden. "Nothing ever feels forced with them, and they really like each other. Chemistry is such an organic thing. You can't intellectualize it - and they've got it. There's something about seeing them together that fits and feels right."


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