The Help, a New York Times bestselling novel, is being released in theaters on August 10, 2011. This fictional story is based on the real culture of household workers in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi and was filmed throughout the state.
Author, Kathryn Stockett, was insistent that if her book was to be bought to the big screen, then it had to be filmed in Mississippi. It only makes sense, seeing that the book was set in this southern state. Director Tate Taylor, Stockett’s friend, and screenplay writer, stayed close to the storyline of the novel. The movie was filmed in three Mississippi locations: Clarksdale, Greenwood, and Jackson.
I recently traveled to Jackson, Mississippi on Amtrak’s City of New Orleans and from the moment I stepped off the train, I had almost stepped back in time. The historic train station housed the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation and the entire building had been restored to it’s former glory. While the novel is based predominantly in Jackson, the residential film site was actually Greenwood, which still offers the architecture of the era. There were some scenes of The Help movie filmed in downtown Jackson, Mississippi.
If you are a big fan of book, then you’ll be a big fan of the movie, but you don’t necessarily have to read the book before heading to the theater. Fans of the book and movie can take a trip to Jackson and enjoy southern comfort food, such as golden fried chicken and fresh country vegetables, all washed down with a glass of sweet ice tea. There are a number of restaurants (including the amazing Parlor Market), but the most notable for fans of The Help is The Mayflower Cafe, which appears in the movie a few times. At night, the neon light beckons visitors to step into a time warp. You’ll sit down and expect to see Skeeter enjoying a malt or to hear that mean old Hilly Holbrook walk through the door, entourage following, as they gossip about those they think are beneath them.
And I’ll bet you can find a slice of chocolate pie or two for dessert. If you are looking for other delicious Southern Cuisine restaurants in Jackson, a great online resource is Eat Jackson, complete with reviews, menus, and directions.
Places to Stay:
The Historic Fairview Inn was not only a film site for The Help, but also where many of the stars stayed during filming. It is also mentioned in the novel on page 148. The Fairview Inn is offering The Help Package, giving fans of the book and movie their own Southern Mississippi experience. The package includes lodging and nostalgia such as old fashioned bottle Coca Cola (with peanuts, drop a few in your coke for a true Southern delicacy), mint juleps on arrival, authentic southern dinner for 2 at Sophia’s Restaurant, playing cards, and a book on how to play Bridge. Rates start at $349 per night.
If you aren’t up for staying at The Fairview Inn, in downtown Jackson you can spend a night or two at the Jackson Mississippi Hilton Garden Inn, just across the street from the train station and one block from The Mayflower restaurant. The Hilton Garden Inn is an historic property built in 1923. It was once called the King Edward Hotel and is very chic and elegant. I stayed overnight during my visit to Jackson, MS and have to recommend breakfast at the hotel restaurant – the grits were delicious.
Driving Tour of Belhaven Neighborhood:
The City of Jackson, Mississippi put together a driving tour for fans of The Help, complete with quotes from the book and the landmarks mentioned. You can check out details of the full tour, along with a map download. Check out The Help in Belhaven Neighborhood Tour.
Synopsis (from Dreamworks)
Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon, The Help stars Emma Stone (Easy A) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (Doubt) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s, who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed —even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.
Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change.
The Help opens August 10, 2011 and is a movie of strength and inspiration. Be sure to share your thoughts on The Help Movie Facebook Fan Page.