Thursday, July 11, 2013

Swimming to Bridgewater

(With apologies to the late, great Spalding Gray.)

As part of one of our other life-long blogging projects, we recently re-watched the 1990 film Mermaids, starring Winona Ryder and some other people.

We had watched the film before -- years ago -- and had forgotten an obvious link to this project. Our daughter -- who is quite the young geographer/librarian -- had remembered this scene from early in the film:

Yes, that is soap on Cher's finger, as her character cannot wait to get her hands on an atlas to begin locational analysis for her family's next departure from love and lust gone wrong. The scale of this map is small, so that viewers will not notice that their destination in Eastport, Massachusetts is entirely fictional.


Using a more detailed (larger-scale) map, hand-model Pam shows where the Flax family is really headed. Although the on-screen credits thank only the people of Rockport, Massachusetts, IMDb lists a half-dozen towns in which "Eastport" was created. It is a composite of idealized New England scenes, and although we have been in every one of the the towns shown, almost nothing was familiar to us, except possibly the lake at Borderlands Park in Easton.


View Mermaids in a larger map

The name of the fictional town -- Eastport -- and the heavy use of the real town of Rockport both suggest a more nautical location than the one indicated by the soapy finger of Mrs. Flax. The plot of the film is not affected, though, as the mermaids of the title barely get their flippers wet.

A bit of fiction is included in the location credits themselves. Although many town names in Massachusetts begin with the cardinal directions, the 351 cities and towns of Massachusetts include a solitary Easton. It is all very lovely, but local belief is that North Easton is the better half. Something like 85 percent of Eastonians claim residence.

The "before" picture for this film is Big Lake, Texas, and although we have been all around that state, we have not yet had the pleasure of taking in Big Lake.

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