Civil War takes to screen Aug. 11

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration will present excerpts from the television mini-series based upon John Jakes’ novel “North and South: Part 1” of the epic “North and South” trilogy at 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Admission is free. Released in 1985, the mini-series stars Patrick Swayze as Orry Main and James Read as George Hazard, along with a host of co-stars, including David Carradine, Lesley-Anne Down and Kirstie Alley.

This film about the years leading up to the Civil War is one of a seven-part sequence of monthly screenings titled “Hollywood Comes to Natchez: A Civil War Film Series.”

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The series features movies filmed in the Natchez area that relate to the Civil War.

The films lead up to the 24th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration, set for Feb. 21-24, with the theme, “Fiction, Fact, and Film: The Civil War’s Imprint on Southern Culture.”

Co-sponsoring the film series along with the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration are the Natchez Convention and Visitor Bureau, Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the Natchez National Historical Park.

Up to 2.1 Continuing Educational Units are available for teachers by calling Beth Richard, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, 601-446-1103 or e-mailing her at The cost for the CEU program is $10 for the entire film series.

Arriving on the heels of the early 1980s recession, the Warner Brothers entourage, with its army of actors, directors, technicians and camp followers, provided a welcome economic boost to the Natchez area.

Miss-Lou residents will recognize a number of locations in the movie as well as a number of local people who had speaking roles and appeared as extras in the film.

The director’s choice of Jefferson College to portray West Point in the mini-series benefitted the historic school site when the movie makers paid for the burial of the all of the overhead electrical and telephone lines.

Although visitors to the site rarely notice this important transformation, the disappearance of the wires and poles creates a 19th-century ambiance that has enhanced our living history events for almost thirty years.

James Wiggins, instructor of history at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Natchez branch, will introduce the film and provide historical context for the story.

Because the mini-series runs over nine hours, Wiggins has selected several excerpts that reveal some of the issues causing the United States to break apart and descend into war.

Following the conclusion of the movie, audience members will have an opportunity to discuss the story’s strengths and weaknesses.

Does the film succeed in presenting an accurate picture of the pre-war South? How does the film interpret the causes of the Civil War?

How have scholarly opinions about the conflict changed in the quarter century since the movie’s release? Wiggins will lead the post-film discussion to explore these and other questions.

Please join us on Aug. 11 as we continue with “Hollywood Comes to Natchez: A Civil War Film Series.”

Information about the film series and the 2013 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration is available at, by calling 601-446-1289, or by e-mailing


Jim Barnett is the director of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians.