Two young lovers with polarized passions and conflicting ideals come across an elderly man, whose memories of his own decades-long romance with his beloved wife deeply inspire them.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., “The Longest Ride” centers on the star-crossed love affair between Luke (played by Scott Eastwood), a former champion bull-rider looking to make a comeback, and Sophia (Britt Robertson), a college student who is about to embark upon her dream job in New York City’s art world.
Their world is shaken when they both rescue an elderly widower named Ira (Jack Huston), who has been seriously injured in a crash. They befriend the old man and discover the details about his fascinating life and long marriage.
“The Longest Ride” is based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks.
Neither project prepared the author for the preparation required for “The Longest Ride” book-to-film journey.
“‘The Longest Ride’ is something I’ve never done in film before,” Sparks said. “It’s really two stories in one. [The novel] has an epic quality that applies to both love stories. The love story between Ruth and Ira, which starts before World War II, is contrasted with the entirely different world of professional bull-riding.”
He said that what differentiated this film from the other adaptations of his work was its epic quality and the dual love story, of two stories coming together.
“When you meet the person with whom you fall in love, the feeling’s the same, whether you’re in the 1930s or in the present day,” he said. “Everybody goes through the same emotions. There’s universality to the way we feel, and that’s what I wanted to show. I think the fun of the film is trying to figure out how on earth these two stories are going to come together in the end.”
Sparks did more research for “The Longest Ride” than he had for any of his other novels.
“My explorations covered many areas I didn’t know anything about,” he explains. “I needed to find out what the art world was like in the ’30s and ’40s; what life was like for Jewish people in North Carolina in the 1930s; and the many facets of the Professional Bull Rider’s tour and its riders.”
Black Mountain College
Sparks research for the novel led him to Black Mountain College, which was the center of the modern art movement in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Black Mountain College was founded in the ’30s as an experimental college, and came to define the Modern Art movement.
“Everyone from De Kooning to Rauschenberg was there,” Sparks said. “Robert De Niro’s father, another noted artist, attended Black Mountain College. There were very famous artists there, and if you look at the American modern art movement in the 1940s and 1950s, there were important intersections there with the great works of this century.”
“The Longest Ride” opens April 15 in cinemas nationwide, from 20th Century Fox, to be distributed by Warner Bros.