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Literature / The Bridges of Madison County

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The Bridges of Madison County is a 1992 best-selling novel by Robert James Waller.

The novel follows Francesca Johnson, a married but lonely Italian woman, living in 1960s Madison County, Iowa, who engages in an affair with Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer from Bellingham, Washington who is visiting Madison County in order to create a photographic essay on the covered bridges in the area.

The Bridges of Madison County was adapted into a film in 1995. It was produced by Amblin Entertainment and Malpaso Productions, and distributed by Warner Bros. The film was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood with Kathleen Kennedy as co-producer and the screenplay was adapted by Richard LaGravenese. Eastwood starred as Robert Kincaid, with Meryl Streep as Francesca Johnson.

It was also adapted into a stage musical with a book by Marsha Norman and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown.


This film provides examples of:

  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: Francesca's will states she doesn't want to be buried with her husband; instead, she wants her ashes to be scattered off one of the eponymous bridges, the same where Robert's ashes were scattered.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Francesca wears her hair up in a dowdy bun, but literally lets it down more and more often around Robert, particularly in one sequence when they go out for a drive and to a jazz club. It's back up into the frumpy bun after she decides not to leave with Robert and her family returns home.
  • Flyover Country: Takes place and was filmed in Madison County, Iowa
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: An odd case given that the affair is not set up by an abusive husband and the like, it's simply done and the implications of it being wrong are never explored.
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  • Men Don't Cry: A ridiculous amount of coaxing was required to get Clint Eastwood to cry for a scene.

Alternative Title(s): The Bridges Of Madison County