Eight Great Movies Inspired by Favorite Southern Books

The next time you’re looking for a great movie to watch, consider one of your favorite southern-themed books for inspiration. What’s more entertaining than watching movies based on the characters we already know and love? Here are some you might want to watch for the first time or watch for the 10th time!

Cold Mountain (2003)

Based on the National Book award-winning novel by Charles Frazier, this movie is set in North Carolina during the Civil War. It stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger. A wounded Confederate soldier deserts his unit and travels a long way to get back to a woman he barely knows, but with whom he shared a brief but significant bond. Back at home, his beloved struggles to keep her home and herself together with the help of some good friends.

The Color Purple (1985)

Alice Walker’s 1982 book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award. Soon after, it was adapted into a film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover, and directed by Steven Spielberg.  Celie, an African American woman living in the South in the early 1900s survives horrific abuse and prejudices of the time. She is married off to the worst kind of man, “Mister” and is left to find companionship where she can. She has a sister she truly loves and through sheer will and determination she continues to persevere and finds a way to live in the world on her terms.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Based on the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg, this film, which is set in Alabama in the 1920s stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Cicely Tyson, and Mary-Louise Parker. A frustrated housewife visiting a nursing home, meets a fascinating old woman who shares captivating tales from her past.  As the old woman continues to tell her stories, the two become good friends and the housewife gains the courage to change her own life for the better.

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

The Secret Life of Bees brings to life Sue Monk Kidd’s popular novel. It’s set in South Carolina in the 1960s and stars Queen Latifah, Paul Bettany, Jennifer Hudson, and Dakota Fanning. Preoccupied by memories of her dead mother and abused by her father, 14-year-old Lily runs away with her friend and caregiver to the South Carolina town that may hold the key to her mother’s past. While there, Lily meets three sisters who take her under their wing and teach her about beekeeping, honey, and the Black Madonna.

My Dog Skip (2000)

Based on the memoir by Willie Morris, and starring Frankie Muniz, Diane Lane, Luke Wilson and Kevin Bacon, this movie follows a shy boy growing up in 1940s Mississippi.  He starts to open up to the world with the help of a mischievous family dog named, Skip. My Dog Skip is a feel-good movie about a boy and his dog in a small, sleepy Southern town that teaches us about family, friendship, love, devotion, trust, and bravery.

The Help (2009)

The Help is based on a historical fiction novel by American author Kathryn Stockett.  The movie stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer in a tale of the relationships between white Southerners and their African American maids. Unforgettable characters lead the viewer on a journey through their experiences with the best and worst of Mississippi (and the South in general) in the 1960s.

The Prince of Tides (1991)

Based on the book of the same name by Pat Conroy, this drama starring Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte is set in New York and South Carolina. A New York psychiatrist whose patient is an emotionally troubled woman asks to discuss her South Carolina family’s troubled past with the woman’s twin brother. The brother and the psychiatrist become close allies as he tells the story of the twins’ fraught South Carolina upbringing.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Harper Lee’s 1960 novel won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a popular movie starring Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Estelle Evans, and Robert Duvall.  In small-town Alabama, Scout Finch and her older brother Jem spend much of their time with their friend Dill, spying on their mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley. When their widowed father, a respected lawyer, defends a black man against fabricated rape charges, the trial and related events subject the children to the evils of racism and stereotyping.


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