Celebrating Maine’s Bicentennial through March 15, 2020

Maine in the Movies: 35 films where Maine was the third character

Plus: 20+ films to catch this week
Fri, 03/13/2020 - 1:00pm

    WATERVILLE—The next time you watch a film shot in Maine, look closely. The state of Maine isn’t just a backdrop in most of those films—the landscape itself is often what’s known as a “third character” as it often mirrors the film’s mood.

    Running up to the Maine Bicentennial, “Maine in the Movies” began March 5 and will continue to March 15, featuring 35 films across all genres that were set in or influenced by Maine. Thanks to the efforts of the Maine Film Center as well as 19 other arts and education organizations and independent cinemas, the 11-day festival is hitting 17 cities across the state.

    Maine In The Movies

    Click on film title for more info

    March 9

    It Happened to JaneAlamo Theater, Bucksport, 6 p.m.

    The LighthouseAlamo Theater, Bucksport, 6 p.m.

    March 10

    AquamanTemple Cinema, Houlton, 6:45 p.m.

    CarrieSpotlight Cinemas at the strand, Skowhegan, 7 p.m.

    March 11

    The Strange Woman—Eveningstar Cinema, Brunswick, 4 p.m.

    The Shawshank Redemption—Spotlight Cinemas, Orono, 7 p.m.

    How To Marry A MillionaireLincoln Theater, Damariscotta, 7 p.m.

    A Stolen LifeNordica Theater, Brunswick, 7 p.m.

    March 12

    House of Dark Shadows—Alamo Theater, Bucksport, 6 p.m.

    Wet Hot American Summer—Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville, 7 p.m.

    March 13

    Carousel—Medomak Valley High School, Waldoboro, POSTPONED

    The Whales of August —Lincoln Theater, Damariscotta, 2 p.m.

    Dolores Claiborne—Opera House Arts, Stonington, 7 p.m.


    Most people associate Maine films with book or story adaptations from Stephen King and Richard Russo, but the depth and breadth of films range from small-town life in a blue-collar mill town to feature-length animations to rom-coms set in Portland as well as eerie, cliffside and remote island productions that capitalize on Maine’s spooky reputation.

    “Maine is a state of mind and imagination whose enigma and beauty have, from the very beginning, inspired writers, visual artists, and their natural descendants, filmmakers,” said Mike Perreault, MFC executive director, in a news release.

    Jean and the Match-Maker (1910) is a short, silent film with a black-and-white border collie named Jean as its breakout star, who manages to be the matchmaker to two shy brothers. The most recent film in the “Maine in the Movies” series, The Lighthouse, (2019) is a psychological horror starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers who start to lose their sanity when a storm strands them on the remote island where they are stationed.  Maine-based writer Sarah Orne Jewett served as a significant point of reference for the dialects used in the film, which was actually shot in Nova Scotia.

    Maine In The Movies

    Click on film title for more info

    March 14

    Charlotte's Web—Nordica Theater, Freeport, 9:30 a.m.

    The Iron Giant—Temple Cinema, Houlton, 11 a.m.

    Blow The Man Down—Eveningstar Cinema, Brunswick, 11 a.m.

    Signs of Life—Opera House Arts,  Stonington, 7 p.m.

    In The Bedroom—Strand Theater, Rockland, 7:30 p.m.

    Deep Waters—Waterman’s Community Center, North Haven, 7:30 p.m.

    March 15

    Empire Falls—Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville, 1 p.m.

    Captain January —The Strand Theatre, Rockland, 1 p.m.

    Peyton Place—The Strand Theatre, Rockland, 3 p.m.



    Perhaps the best-known film is the novella by Stephen King adapted to film, The Shawshank Redemption, a commentary on criminal justice. Even though the movie depicted Maine as its primary setting, the prison in the film was actually the old Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. Who can forget that dream-like pastoral hayfield at the end of the novella where Red follows clues that Andy Dufrene left him to an oak tree in Buxton, Maine, that Andy describes as “like something out of a Robert Frost poem”? Ironically, the oak tree and farm where the scene was filmed was not in Maine, but near Lucas, OH.

    While hayfields and trees can look alike anywhere, there is no mistaking the Maine coast, a lobster fishing community, or the distinct accent of a Mainer whose family goes back generations.

    The Midcoast has enjoyed a number of times as a third character in films. In The Bedroom, a 2001 indie crime film, was shot in multiple towns in the Midcoast, and beyond. Camden’s Village Green even made it into two movies: Peyton Place (1957) and Thinner (1996) while Lincolnville and Rockport made appearances in Man Without A Face.

    And just about everybody in the Midcoast knows where to direct a tourist who’s looking for “that lighthouse that Forrest Gump ran up.” In fact, the Marshall Point Lighthouse is so popular from the eponymous film that a U.K. man re-enacted the famed run in 2017, as reported by Pen Bay Pilot.

    Here is a list of all the locations where Maine-set films were actually shot.

    For more information on Maine In The Movies, visit: The Maine Film Center

    Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com