May 10, 2012

From the Editor: Run for your lives! Or else stay and feel the Yankee love

By ROD HARMON Deputy Managing Editor

Filmmakers like Maine.

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Let me clarify that: Filmmakers like to set films in Maine. They don't necessary like to film in Maine. There are many reasons for this, which would take the space of another column to go into.

But when it comes to determining a locale for certain types of movies, Maine is often chosen. Generally, such movies fall into two categories:

1. An idyllic, homespun getaway that helps the characters resolve relationship problems, makes estranged families come together, and/or shows a rebellious/troubled/angst-ridden teenager how to be less rebellious/troubled/angst-ridden.

Naturally, they must do so during a very limited window of sunshine-y days, because none of this magic works during the nine months of Maine winter. For examples, see "The Spitfire Grill," "Summer Solstice" and the upcoming "Hope Springs."

2. Hell. Literally and figuratively. A place where monsters roam the woods, lurk in the lakes and drag young children to the sewers for a mid-afternoon snack, a place where even folksy Good Samaritans turn out to be sledgehammer-wielding psychopaths who like to say "ayuh" a lot.

Any time of year is good for such monsters/psychopaths, but they prefer fall and winter, when it starts getting dark around 3 p.m. For examples, see "Lake Placid," "Dark Harbor" and virtually every movie based on a Stephen King story.

Every once in a while, though, a movie with a Maine setting comes along that defies these stereotypes. Movies like the Oscar-winning "Cider House Rules," the Golden Globe-winning two-parter "Empire Falls" and, hopefully, the new "Dark Shadows" movie starring Johnny Depp that's opening Friday.

There's already been some controversy about "Dark Shadows" among die-hard fans of the original 1966-71 TV series and two subsequent movies, because this version takes a campy approach. I never cared for the original myself -- maybe because I never cared for the achingly slow plot devices inherent to soap operas -- but I am looking forward to the movie.

You can read a review of "Dark Shadows" on Page E11, and as an added bonus, check out Ray Routhier's story on how Hollywood has portrayed other Maine-set films in the past. Most of them fit into the usual two categories, but there are some gems in there. And the rest should at least provide some chuckles as you watch Hollywood's depiction of the Pine Tree State.

Some of them even manage decent Maine accents.

Ayuh.

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at:

rharmon@pressherald.com

Twitter: RHarmonPPH

 

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