Thursday, August 30, 2007

A film for every state

This article is a work in progress. I'm trying to narrow it down to one film that best exemplifies the spirit of the state (possibly in a positive way):

Alabama-To Kill a Mockingbird or The Color Purple

I think one has a more realistic portrayal while the other (Mockingbird) is a successful adaptation of one of the quintessential American novels, and personifies the racial conflict that has marked the state's history.

Alaska-The Gold Rush
Also considering: Road to Utopia or Mystery Alaska

The Gold Rush was a defining period of which the most romanticized literature has been produced in the history of the state of Alaska.


There have been many films marking the gunfight at the O.K. Corrall. I think My Darling Clementine might be too romanticized, however. Gunfight at the O.K. Corrall I've never seen

Arkansas-Primary Colors or Walk the Line

Also considered: Flower Drum Song and Sunset Boulevard
Flower Drum Song represents the immigrant experience and the infusion of Asian immigrants that have been defining to the state's history. Sunset Boulevard and Chinatown both focus on Hollywood and the Southern half of the state and get to the core of the conflicts that have taken place there, but I felt like Chinatown with its ideas of developers' fantasies, droughts and irrigation, greed that can be said to run rampant, and events based in real life history take the cake.

Colorado-Aspen Extreme

Connecticut-Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mystic Pizza, Stepford Wives

Deleware-Dead Poets' Society
Deleware is the first colony so symbolically it's kind of representative of Old World mores that Robin Williams fights against in this film.

Florida-Sunshine State
Florida is a state with such rich diversity that one film can't really capture the culture and history of the state, but Sunshine State reminds me a lot about the spirit of Florida and Florida is probably the state that I'm more familiar with than any other state, except Virginia where I was born and raised. Sunshine State deals with people who are reacting to their dreams of a piece of the beach shattered and geography writer Joel Gerreau says this about Florida and Andrew Flagler (the guy who originally developed Miami when he built a railroad): "The only hitch was that Paul Beach was that it still was not relatively Carribean enough tp guarantee the rich a permanent haven from the cold. It's important to note Flagler's dream because it was the first of the many that have washed over south Florida in waves, each different, each ultimately receding, but each leaving its mark at the high-water line. Every one of those dreams continues to exist here intact captured by the promise of the sun. Because they are dreams - visions of a kind of perfection leaving old problems behind - they do everything they can to ignore each other. The yachted aristocrats, in their dream, had not envisioned an invasion of pensioners wishing to leave cheap where the slush does not grow. The white-haried from a homogeneously Anglo-German Great Plains, menwhile were rather taken aback that large numbers of blacks and some crackers, as they are still locally called, considered Florida an extension of the South. The crackers and blacks were amazed that the Mafia considered South Florida a vacation spa.

Georgia-Ray (it's a biopic but also a story about the State Song), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Hawaii-Blue Hawaii

Idaho-Sun Valley Serenade (NOT NAPOLEON DYNAMITE)

Illinois-Young Mr. Lincoln, Chicago, Road to Perdition, Blues Brothers

Aside from the obvious basketball connection, Indiana is known as being a peaceful haven on the breadbasket and the film has those iconic shots of wheat fields.

Iowa-Music Man
I don't know if any other film could possibly romanticize a place more than the Music Man does for small-town Iowa life.

Kansas-Splendor in the Grass, Wizard of Oz, Kansas City
Haven't seen Robert Altman's Kansas City. If it's more Kansas City, Kansas than Kansas City, Missourri than I'll take it.

Kentucky-Seabiscuit, Riverboat Rhythm (story of Colonel Saunders), Elizabethtown

Louisiana-Big Easy, When the Levees Broke, Cincinatti Kidd, Streetcar Named Desire

Maine-Cider House Rules
Those shots of the rocky shorelines are easily identifiable with Maine and that line "Good night, you princes of Maine, you Kings of New England" easily puts that picture in your head.

Barry Levinson writes pretty much everything from the standpoint of a Baltimore-native.

Massetchussetts-Fever Pitch
Bostontonians are noted for being obsessed with their sports teams.

Michigan-Roger and Me

Minnesota-Mighty Ducks
Coen Brothers and Terry Gilliam can't make a Minnesota tribute as good as the Mighty Ducks. Love of hockey, communal activism (the hockey team has the strong support of the community, the state is #1 in civic engagement or something like that) a sense of community, and shots of the winter carnival where Coach Bombay goes on that date with the single mom do much to promote St. Paul's greatest attraction. Also, tons of people skate on ponds in Minnesota.

Mississippi-Oh Brother Where Art Thou (Mississipi Burning has Mississippi in the title but presents a less flattering view)

Missourri-Meet me in St Louis
The film is practically sponsored by the St. Louis chamber of commerce

Montana-A River Runs Through It

Nebraska-About Schmidt


New Hampshire-On Golden Pond

New Jersey-Dogma (in comparison to other Kevin Smith films, this has a very pretentious view of New Jersey, placing it as the nexus of the Universe in the battle between God and lucifer)

New Mexico-Blind Horizon
R-U: Fat Man and Little Boy

New York-On the Town

North Carolina-Cold Mountain, Junebug, Bill Durham

North Dakota-Fargo ?

Ohio-Small Soldiers

Oklahoma-Grapes of Wrath

Oregon-Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

R-U: Kingpin, Philadelphia, Rocky

Rhode Island-High Society

South Carolina-Porgy and Bess

South Dakota-North by Northwest

Tennessee-Mystery Train
Nod to Elvis and Nasvhille since the film is built around the song Blue Moon, and also takes place in Memphis so it covers two beloved Tennesse cities

Accumulation of wealth, oil, family dynasties

Utah-Melvin and Howard

Vermont-Holiday Inn


Washington-Far Country

Washington D.C.-Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Runner-Up: Enemy of the State

West Virginia-October Sky

Wisconsin- Map of the World

Wyoming has an incredibly sparse population which is what the central conflict of the film is about: Too few people. The footage of those lush green fields also makes Wyoming look very attractive as opposed to those Westerns that take place in the desert and are very barren.


Lucille said...

For Michigan, may I suggest adding "Escanaba in da Moonlight"?

Anonymous said...

I think my favorite part of this was the part where you said the Coen Bros. and Terry Gilliam couldn't make a film as good as "The Mighty Ducks." Or it might have been the massive stretch needed to find a film to represent Delaware.

OKonheim said...

What I said was that Gilliam or the Coen Brothers couldn't make a film as Minnesotan as the Mighty Ducks. Both those two guys come from Minnesota.

OKonheim said...

or, technically both those 3 guys

Anonymous said...

Field of Dreams might be as good an Iowa film as The Music Man.

OKonheim said...

I disagree about Field of Dreams. Field of Dreams is about the glory of baseball which is an Americana thing, and not an Iowa thing. People don't think baseball when they think Iowa. Music Man is very much a celebration of Iowa small town life and makes me want to move there

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