Famous films do not just call Hollywood home. Many famous movies take place in Mississippi, and as such, film companies use Mississippi as a filming location. After all, the most authentic depiction of a place often comes from that place itself. Filmed entirely in Mississippi, “The Help” follows the story of African American maids in Jackson during the 1960s and Civil Rights Movement, providing a meaningful adaption of the novel by Kathryn Stockett’s novel of the same name. Some observant watchers will notice important locations from Jackson in the film, and all Union residents should know about this movie (and novel) that interprets Mississippi history in an important way.
In the beginning of the movie, the main character Skeeter Stone returns home from the University of Mississippi, having earned her degree and gained an important perspective on life. Conversely, all of her high school friends have married and started families; they never left the suburbs of Jackson and have become traditional housewives in the manner of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Ultimately, Skeeter wants to become a writer, but she takes a job writing newspaper columns while she figures things out. Because of her new perspective on life, she immediately begins to wonder about the lives of the African American maids who have become so important to these white suburban families. Skeeter decides to write a book about the stories of these women, and although hesitant to talk with her at first, the emerging civil rights movement inspires many of them. In short, they say a lot, and Skeeter fashions a novel that turns Jackson on its head since her work directly references Jackson and its high society. In addition to this narrative, the movie also explores the issue of segregation in the South during the 1960s, challenges traditional gender norms for women, and provides a heart-wrenching story balanced by comedic relief. “The Help” uniquely tackles seriously issues while also remaining entertaining to watch over and over.
Since the movie focuses exclusively on Mississippi history, the filming of the movie takes place entirely in Mississippi. Clarksdale, Greenwood and Jackson all serve as filming locations, and observant viewers can recognize the locations. For instance, in at least one scene (maybe more) the main characters eat at Brent’s Drugs, which shows itself as a 1950s-style diner. Brent’s Drugs is a real diner in the Fondren area of Jackson and has been since the 1940s. In fact, the original barstools still inhabit the venue. Upon looking closely, one can see this location in the movie. Furthermore, the movie also includes several streets in Jackson that were filmed on location; Jackson natives could likely identify many more of the places in the movie.
Although many people consider Hollywood the best place to make movies, Mississippi serves as a quality place as well; specifically, movies set in the Deep South can do no better than Mississippi. The best way to portray this setting to the world comes from authenticity, and “The Help” provides just that. The amazing story combined with the setting creates a story all Mississippians can enjoy with a bit of pride. Hopefully, Union might serve as the backdrop for a movie someday.