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Added by amaryllis on 6 Dec 2013 04:07
637 Views 1 Comments

The Heartland: A Movie Marathon

Note: Feel free to skip past this section; it's just an explanation of my selection process.

"The Heartland" is a nebulous concept at best. Wikipedia defines it as the (American) states that don't touch an ocean, but I take a narrower view. At first I was going to restrict this list to movies filmed in the Midwest, which is what I think of first when I think heartland (especially states like Kansas and Nebraska, commonly referred to as the breadbasket of America), but then I decided that Texas felt like the heartland. However I do not consider the Deep South to be the heartland; I think it's something different and I think movies set there have a different vibe (often Southern Gothic) than movies set in the heartland. The two exceptions here are O Brother Where Art Thou and Looper. I can't tell you why OBWAT and Looper feel heartland-y to me whereas Big Fish, filmed in Alabama, feels more Deep South. Maybe it's the abundance of Spanish moss in Big Fish, versus the abundance of fields in OBWAT and Looper. To me the heartland is generally flat, not very green, and sparsely populated, but this is not a hard and fast rule. And it's not a desert. Arizona and New Mexico are not the heartland in my view, but other states in the Mountain West can be-- i.e. parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. Utah and Nevada, not so much. The interior South is also included-- West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas. Oklahoma and Missouri are sometimes considered Midwestern, sometimes Southern, but either way they're included. Coastal Southern states are not included with the exception of Texas. All of the Midwest is included, including northern states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. And that's about it. While states like Pennsylvania and New York definitely have "heartland" regions (and you could certainly make a case for Western Pennsylvania being Midwestern), they are almost always considered part of the Northeast and therefore disqualified, including films set in the Midwest but actually filmed in Pennsylvania. The first thing I think when I think heartland (well, after Kansas and Nebraska) is a long tracking shot of an endless, straight highway cutting through fields of grain as far as the eye can see. As you might have guessed, this list was inspired by the film "Nebraska" which is currently in theaters. It was also inspired by the films of Terrence Malick which do justice to the beauty of the heartland like no other; there are three of them on this list.

Certain movies have been excluded. Westerns, because then we'd be here forever. The exception being Dances With Wolves because it is not a traditional gunslinging western. Old movies (1920-1970), because of the sheer number and because they tend to be less authentic in that they may be set in Kansas but were actually filmed in California. Horror movies because of my lack of familiarity with the genre and because they are usually not filmed on location. Children of the Corn is an exception, but too perfect not to include. On that note I've tried to exclude movies filmed in California. California certainly has a heartland (the Central Valley) but I do not consider the state of California to be heartland and besides, so many movies are filmed in California and I'm trying to focus on movies that show a different part of the U.S., one that is not shown as often. Also, big cities in the Midwest are not considered heartland by my metric-- ex. Chicago or St. Louis. However smaller and more obscure cities, like Fargo, North Dakota, are included. Movies set in the American heartland but filmed in Canada (typically Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba) are allowed because these provinces have much in common with the American heartland, especially when it comes to landscape.

Please note that my definition of the heartland is my own, and that I am not trying to define it for anybody else. Some of these movies have a homespun, small-town, rural charm; others are more serious. They run the gamut from lighthearted to darkly comic to bleak. Regarding the filming locations listed, I have only listed the heartland locations; a couple were also filmed in California. Also, if imdb (which is a godsend when it comes to filming locations; I don't know what I'd do without them) only listed a state and not a specific city under filming locations, I treated that as unverifiable.

P.S. Sports movies I could've included but didn't: We Are Marshall, Hoosiers, Rudy, and A League of Their Own.
Sort by: Showing 32 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Filmed in: Oklahoma, Iowa
Filmed in: Iowa
Filmed in: Minnesota, North Dakota
Filmed in: Illinois
Filmed in: Minnesota
Filmed in: Texas
Filmed in: Alberta
Filmed in: Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia
Filmed in: Oklahoma
Filmed in: Texas, Louisiana
Filmed in: Louisiana
Filmed in: Mississippi
Filmed in: Tennessee
Filmed in: Tennessee
Filmed in: Nebraska, Montana
Filmed in: Manitoba
Filmed in: Missouri
Filmed in: Ohio


Filmed in: Arkansas
Filmed in: Minnesota
Filmed in: Colorado
Filmed in: Montana
Filmed in: Idaho
Filmed in: Illinois (the scenes of his hometown)
Filmed in: Iowa
Filmed in: Kansas, Missouri
Filmed in: South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas
Filmed in: Texas
Filmed in: Texas

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