You know you missed him... so John Ur is back with a smattering of the best films which show the landscape of South Carolina.
I know I’ve been to South Carolina. I’ve driven through it any number of times going to Florida or Georgia. But for the life of me, I can’t describe how it looks outside of the ads I’ve seen for the golf courses or Myrtle Beach. And in some ways, I wonder (completely ignoring any important historical events), why is South Carolina even a state? I mean, why doesn’t it just unite with North Carolina and settle down, buy a house, have some kids? Is it really that different that it needs its own borders?
Here’s what I do know, at least from what the important tourism people tell me through their plethora of ads about that state: There are some of the best golf courses around in South Carolina, most notably Hilton Head. For many, this is more than enough reason to book a trip. For those in the audience to which this applies, you may want to check out The Legend of Bagger Vance, a deeply philosophical (sometimes nauseatingly so) film starring Matt Damon and Will Smith. The film shot in Beaufort, Charleston, and Hilton Head, and has some beautiful long sequences filmed on the Pete Dye Course at Colleton River Plantation in Bluffton and the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.
Besides golf, on the Sea Islands along the coast you may find the descendants of African slaves, the Gullah or Geechee people. The Gullah worked on rice plantations on the coast, which tended to be swampy marshland. Because of the heat, isolation, and undesirable conditions, the slave owners hardly ever ventured out to oversee the work being done. Thanks to their relative separation from the rest of the state, the Gullah were able to retain many of their own traditions including language, song, and the trade for which they are famous: basketweaving. So strong are their skills and traditions that a Gullah woman, Mary Jackson, was recently named a MacArthur Genius.
Along the coast there are some cities that exhibit the charms of the Old South like Beaufort, Mount Pleasant and, most notably, Charleston. With large oaks covered in Spanish moss and houses built in the American Revival tradition, Charleston seeps that southern charm, that je ne se quoi. Charleston has played host to many a motion picture, including Cold Mountain, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Prince of Tides and The Patriot.
I am now going to pander to my female audience about a movie that I absolutely abhor for its poor writing, predictability, and its melodramatic romance: The Notebook. (Gentlemen, feel free to skip the next two paragraphs and go rent Days of Thunder, featuring NASCAR races at Darlington Raceway.)
But The Notebook has raised a huge cult following since its release a few years ago. Starring Rachel MacAdams and Ryan Gosling, the story tells of Allie (MacAdams), a rich girl spending the summer in the fictional town of Seabrook, hanging around with Noah (Gosling), a working class son of a single parent. (Seabrook is filmed in the Old Village portion of Mount Pleasant). Of course, the rich parents don’t approve of the relationship. I think we’ve heard this before: see Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Dirty Dancing.
You can check out the Hamilton’s (Allie’s parents) summer house at Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, which has been in operation for over 300 years. The house that Noah ends up fixing up can be found at Martin’s Point Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. Other shoots took place in Charleston, at the College of Charleston, and on Edisto Island. A more comprehensive recap can be found on the South Carolina Information Highway page.
So let's consider the argument that South Carolina has made for statehood: world-class golf courses; African song, dance, and crafts; charming Southern cities like Beaufort and Charleston; and a sappy love story that if you can make it through without falling asleep or gagging will score some major points with your girlfriend. I’ll let you be the judge whether these things are positives or negatives.
Also Recommended: The Big Chill, Forrest Gump, Leatherheads.
Photo: Arman Mando via the Intelligent Travel Flickr pool