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A Man Named Pearl DVD + CD SET
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2008
Pearl Fryar is an extraordinary man, self-made to be sure. The son of a sharecropper, he seemingly has an innate sense about the way plants grow, blessed with a keen, artistic mind. Combined, these talents have made him almost obsessed about turning his modest, 3-acre property in tiny Bishopville, South Carolina into a work of topiary art. Using cast-off plants from a local greenhouse, he creates and beautiful Eden in his backyard. The film is a paean to his efforts, his vision and his effect on his community.

There's a tendency to see Pearl as a sort of backwoods topiary savant. But listen to him speak to college art classes, and you will hear a articulate man who embodies the artistic impulse and inspires students to leave their sketchbooks behind and reach into their hearts. He may not have gained his knowledge from textbooks, but from Nature itself, the source of the textbooks. The film interviews Pearl, his wife and son, neighbors, his pastor and his many friends. The "best supporting actor" has to go to the head of the local Chamber of Commerce. Though his feet-on-the-desk, salesy manner might remind some of Uncle Kip in "Napoleon Dynamite," he sems truly appreciative of Pearl and his potential to bring a few more touirists into town.

Played as a fiction, "A Man Named Pearl" would have been set as a standard against-all-obstacles story. This film is not so craven as to invent huge villains for Pearl to overcome. The standard demons of lingering racial stratification, self-esteem, community doubt and the clock will have to do. A fine film that shows what human bengs are capable of when given the light, air and space to grow. Kind of like plants.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2008
The movie trailer for "A Man Named Pearl"
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 20, 2009
This is a fascinating documentary about Pearl Fryar, a South Carolina man who has transformed his grounds into a dizzying display of plant sculptures. Fryar had no prior experience or knowledge of topiary and his only introduction to it was a brief demonstration at a local nursery. He immediately started landscaping his property with all kinds of evergreens and began training them into stunning shapes and designs with hedge trimmers and chainsaws. Interviews with Fryar's neighbors, friends and family show the influence of his work on the townspeople, young people (he regularly speaks to college students and give tours to grade school students) and tourism for the town. A remarkable man and film, very uplifting!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 7, 2009
Bishopville, SC is located in Lee County, one of SC poorest counties. Poor in economics but not poor in the richness of their citizens. Pearl Fryar is a remarkable man that has put Bishopville, SC on the map. He started with a small seed of a dream to win "Yard of the Month". His creative muse was unleashed with a 5-minute lesson on how to create a topiary with a chain saw from a plant rescued from a compost pile at City Nursery Wholesale Farm (one of seven nursery farms in the US licensed to grow 'Encore' Azaleas.
From one topiary grew two to three to Pearl's entire 2-acre property. His message and philosophy is outlined in his garden with plants that spell, "Peace, Love & Goodwill". Pearl is using his creative gift to support and lift up students in Lee County by receiving donations which he uses as scholarships to average "C" students in his community. He is a leader in his community with the theory "it takes a village to raise a child". Pearl and his wife recognized the challenges young people have in their community with low incomes and decided to do something positive to help lift them up and away from a possible life of drugs and crime. Pearl and his wife are among many unsung American heros living in our backyards. I think every school and library should have a copy of this DVD and share Pearl's message of "Love, hope and goodwill" with all students. You will find yourself laughing, crying and filled with inspiration when you watch this DVD. After you watch his DVD check out his website and visit his garden. You will be transformed!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful movie about a wonderful man.

Pearl Fryar (and his lovely wife Metra) are two of the sweetest and most truly humble people you'll ever find. As much as I loved Pearl's topiary creations, what really touched me here is the truly unconditional love these two share. You can't fake this kind of connection; look at her eyes when she talks about him, and look at the gentleman he becomes in her presence. The entire world should have someone they love who loves them as much as the Fryars do each other. It's just heartwarming to be in their presence, even via film.

And it's a real treat to watch Pearl's love of nature and gardening transform those who come to view his three-acre slice of heaven, sliced by Pearl himself and certainly watched over by many green angels. The busloads of old ladies and young schoolkids and everyone in between are visibly moved because they can see and feel the love of the man in the plants, and his very individual vision. As some of the gardening experts say at the beginning, he shouldn't be able to do all this...this and that tree don't grow well here...yet there it is, a garden as perfect as Versailles in its own small, quiet way.

I think it works and grows and moves people because of the love so clearly on display. Trees and plants feel that love just as people do, and Pearl's love extends from his family (it's tough to separate his home, wife, and plants, they all seem of an exquisitely peaceful piece) to the people and his community, his church and his God. Yet few churches have the vibrant life and joy that emanates from Pearl's yard, and his very strong intention that it move and soothe others has clearly borne fruit on a level hard to imagine yet easy to fathom. How many small towns can you name that are famous for someone's yard? I can think of only one, and the unforced, sincere love and respect the people of Bishopville show for Pearl make questions of race fade away, and truths about love and determination move happily to the fore.

Pearl is clearly a very wise human being, a wisdom with a special flavor imparted by decades of caring for both trees and people. He says many simple, startlingly accurate things that resonate long after the film is over, and by the end it's hard not to see him as rather more enlightened than most of us. When he casually mentions that he'd never use chemicals in his garden, it makes sense in a way that a long treatise on organics might not. The endless singing of birds suggests that somewhere, St. Francis of Assisi is smiling.

I watch movies not so much to be entertained, but to be moved, informed, and above all transported in some heartfelt way. A Man Named Pearl did all of those almost effortlessly. The gentle jazz score couldn't be more apt (nice job by composer Fred Story, and kudos to Phil Thompson for some lovely tenor sax moments), the film moves with the assurance and ease of a bird flying from tree to tree, the directors remain invisible and keep our hero squarely in the spotlight, the film moves with the assurance and ease of a bird flying from tree to tree, and the whole thing just feels right: unassuming, intelligent and authentic.

I've seen a lot of documentaries about a lot of subjects, and when it comes to movies on great Americans, I'd have to say my three favorites are now Ken Burns' Mark Twain, Ric Burns' Ansel Adams, and Galloway/Pearson's A Man Named Pearl.

Watch this movie. You'll be glad you did, and you'll never forget Pearl Fryar.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
Pearl Fryar is a topiary genius who is also a wonderful human being. The shapes he has molded his plants into in his South Carolina garden are fantastic and a joy to behold. This loving documentary shows what he does and how he does it. If you love gardening, you'll love this DVD.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2009
Pearl Fryar inspires not only the gardener but everyone who has ever had a dream and sought it with all his heart. It underscores the fact that with very few material possessions, our imaginations and God-given talents can lead us to places we had little idea we could be. This film is a beacon of hope; and Mr. Fryar is an inspiration.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2009
This documentary is just so charming. It really shows you what's important in life, to do what you love, to find what you're good at and give it your all, and you most definitely will find happiness and inspire others.
ps. I cant wait to go visit Pearl's garden !
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2008
I'll just say that in its 2 short runs in Charleston, SC, I saw it 4 times -- with my wife and with 2 twenty-somthings and then with an 86-year-old. Thumbs-up all around.

Have been anxiously awaiting the DVD release to share with as many friends and relatives as possible this Christmas.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2009
God has blessed each of us with a gift. This movie shares the gift of a man who defeated the odds and surprised many. You will be motivated and encouraged to move forward. Never give up on yourself.
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