Thursday, January 1, 2009

Expeditions to Movie-filming Locations

I don't know why I get such a kick out of visiting places where a favorite movie was filmed, but the fact is, that I do! And apparently, I am not the only one, because there is an entire "niche market" in the tour/travel industry that focuses on trips to locations where a famous movie was filmed. Some of the more memorable movie places I have visited are as follows: The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, where Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour filmed "Somewhere in Time"; Prince Edward Island, which is the setting for "Anne of Green Gables"; Old Quebec City, where a famous chase scene occurs in Leonardo DiCaprio's "Catch Me If You Can"; and the park bench in Savannah, Georgia, where the famous scene from Forrest Gump takes place. I also drove several hours in Mississippi River Delta country once, to the tiny town of Lepanto, Arkansas, to tour an old homestead, used in the movie based on John Grisham's book, "A Painted House." And don't even get me started on Utah! There have been so many movies filmed in that scenic state that a famous resort, called Red Cliffs, has a whole wing of its property turned into a museum of movie nostalgia items based solely on movies filmed in Utah! The most memorable Utah location to me (because my son is also a rock climber) was the state park where Tom Cruise filmed his famous rock-climbing scene. Likewise, my son has also climbed Devils Tower in Wyoming (which I visited once on a motorcycle trip) where a very famous science-fiction movie was filmed (does the term "strange encounters" come to mind?) Geographic, or otherwise easily-recognized landmarks, are often used in movies to set a scene in the viewer's mind of where the story is taking shape-----think of the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign on a hill above that city, The Plaza Hotel, Statue of Liberty, and Empire State Building in NYC, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, or the Sears Tower in Chicago. These landmarks let us fix in our mind the setting for the film, without ever saying a word. I guess what got me thinking about movie locations was the fact that the ABC-Family television network has been advertising this week that it is showing the movie, "Jumanji", with Robin Williams, on Saturday night. Thanks to my friend, Sue, (pictured above in front of Frank's Barber Shop, in Keene, New Hampshire) I was able to visit the town where the Jumanji story unfolds, , go inside the shop, and photograph the actual, real-life barber, who has a cameo appearance in the movie, as he is standing in front of his barber shop. There was no one else in the shop when Sue and I visited there, and he talked to us at length about his involvement with the movie, and did not hesitate at all to have his photograph taken beside the movie poster he has prominently displayed inside. Although I didn't remember every scene from that movie, I definitely remembered the street scene that showed a billboard advertising Parrish Shoes, because the name Parrish is part of my family history. So I was delighted to get to see and photograph the famous advertisement, still in excellent condition, on a brick wall in Keene, New Hampshire. As far as movies I have seen that have made me VERY MUCH want to visit a particular location, but which I have not yet had an opportunity, I would nominate the hit movie, "Mama Mia." I watched it recently with my step-daughter (so I guess in our case, it was "step-mama mia") and was captivated by the beauty of the Greek Island where it was filmed. Through a search on the Internet, and an article on Wikipedia, I learned that the island where the wedding chapel scene takes place (which is situated at the end of a very steep path, high on top of a mountain, overlooking a brilliantly blue sea) is Skopelos, home of Agios Ioannis Chapel. I have been considering a trip to Patmos, the Greek Island where the book of Revelation was written, so maybe I will plan on a stop at Skopelos, as well! Perhaps by setting the goal of visiting the Agios Ioannis Chapel, it will keep me motivated to stay physically fit, because it appeared to be quite a climb to the top! Enough dreaming about future trips, it is time for some weight -lifting exercises, because like my scuba instructor would always remind me when I complained about the heavy tank I had to carry when scuba diving---"If you can't tote it, you can't float it!" I guess the same principle applies to floating away to Greek Islands! Miles of smiles! Tricia
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