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Purple Media Network

Purple Media Network

Louisiana’s famous movies and history

Kevin Thomas
The Steel Magnolia house located at 320 Jefferson St is one of the many houses in the area to have been a setting for a movie.

For many people, the city of Natchitoches and small towns are exactly that, small towns. Places where people say nothing happens, but at the heart of these towns are stories and the homes of residents.
Small towns are places where people grow up, work and raise their children. Places where stories of their youth will be shared and passed down through generations.
So much of Louisiana’s culture is stories and tales not found in history books or schools. However, the history of Louisiana’s locals are often brought to light on the silver screen. Rich scenery is told against backdrops of towering magnolia trees.
Louisiana has many stories to tell but that seems to be the most told. Yet one that stands out is “Steel Magnolias” (1989), a tale of how Southern women lived their day-to-day lives. It stars many of Hollywood’s greatest actresses and stars: Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine and many others.

They each tell their own stories to make the viewer feel a part of the story as a whole. Southerners know this story and these kinds of people – it’s more than just a movie for them, it’s their lives being portrayed on a screen.
Based on true events, the author tells the story of his family and his sisters’ battle with pregnancy complications due to diabetes. “Steel Magnolias” is filled with joy, laughter and tragedy, with many scenes that were a backdrop to places that are homes and businesses to Natchitoches residents.
As many know, the Steel Magnolia house, used as a primary setting, has become the most iconic house in Natchitoches, bringing in business to something once just a house, now a Bed and Breakfast.
Driving along Highway 6, there is not a lot to see: pine trees, an abandoned building, a herd of cattle and more pine trees. However, just outside the city of Natchitoches, hidden between the small towns of Hagewood and Robeline, stands an old two-story house surrounded by fields and trees.
This seemingly forgotten farmhouse was once the perfect setting for a western movie, “The Horse Soldiers” (1959), starring John Wayne. A western film set in civil war time, Wayne leads a Union Cavalry to destroy a Confederate railroad depot.

Despite Louisiana’s hilly scenery and wetlands landscape, setting the western film here coincides with the civil war era.

“The Horse Soldiers” is filmed in black and white, giving a real sense of the history of the state. Though many of the buildings used for filming aren’t standing any longer, some have a deeper history than the film itself. Places like the Oakland Plantation still endure. The film also used lots of locations to film including the Oakland plantation, the city of Alexandria and other towns throughout the south.

Continuing the journey down Highway 6, the town of Many arises. A small town where the streets are alive with its residents and tourists. People fill the streets and businesses where once a movie starring Reese Witherspoon was filmed.
“The Man in the Moon” (1991), tells a story of heartbreak, a love triangle and an unbreakable sibling bond. The film utilized locations both in Natchitoches and Many, creating a sense of community. The old Many movie theater and scenic views of Natchitoches served as backdrops for the film.
Louisiana isn’t just a random state on a map; it’s home to many people whose cultural history is shared at dinner tables, living rooms and through bedtime stories. It’s through these stories that give birth to art, movies and books that shed light on cultures and narratives the world may not have seen, telling a story in motion for generations to learn and love.

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About the Contributor
Kevin Thomas, Current Sauce - Copy Editor
Kevin Thomas is a senior communication major. This is his third year on The Current Sauce staff and first and final semester working as Copy Editor. He hopes to continue his journey of writing as he hopes to fulfill his dreams of writing for magazines after graduation. He cannot wait for what this semester has in store and what’s next.

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