Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Big Sur - Little Bohemia

"And as you drive along the coast, up state highway number one, you can see, if you look for them, the shacks, even tents, where literary immigrants have already set up typewriters." - The New Cult of Sex and Anarchy – Mildred Edie Brady, 1947
"Why does a young woman like you live way out there alone on a shack by a deserted beach?" – The Sandpiper
Big Sur is beautiful but I hadn't pictured it through a rainy lens. I pictured it as it was in 1965 in The Sandpiper: all roiling tides and running deer, and a ragtag band of beatniks. In the film Elizabeth Taylor plays Laura, a single mother and artist home-schooling her son in their shack by the sea. When he's forced to go to boarding school, Laura clashes and then falls in love with his married headmaster, Reverend/Dr Edward Hewitt (Richard Burton). Cue clandestine meetings at secluded coves and dramatic declarations under equally dramatic cliffs. Big Sur had long been a little bohemia – its most infamous resident, Henry Miller, arrived in 1944 – but the film brought Big Sur to the masses. It meant the restaurant Nepenthe (where the famous dance scene was filmed) could stay open on the off season, and that decades later, an unworldly teen (ahem, me) could lounge around in the cinematic language of dreams.

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