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In the days of slavery, before a black man could be elected president, Midway Plantation sat in all its antebellum glory on several hundred verdant acres of prime North Carolina countryside. But more than a century later, this searing emblem of the Old South has been swallowed up by the onslaught of modern civilization: highways, stripmalls and big box stores.
Now, Charlie Silver, a descendent of the man who built Midway, is determined to save the family home. To escape the urban sprawl, he decides to move the entire plantation several miles away, to a nice spot in a quiet field. And that's when Charlie and his relatives learn that some other descendents of the plantation -- descendents of slaves-- have a vested interest in Midway.
In MOVING MIDWAY, Charlie's cousin (and film critic-turned filmmaker) Godfrey Cheshire turns his camera on his family and the ensuing drama surrounding the move, as the two heirs of Midway past-- black and white-- are unexpectedly brought together for, shall we say, an interesting family reunion.
Tenderhearted, tough-minded, witty and wise, MIDWAY is moving indeed. --The Village Voice
[4 1/2 stars] Fascinating... a superbly crafted cinematic essay on the evolving South and a profound commentary on America's culture and its roots... a beautiful and poignantly personal film. --Alliance for Women Film Journalists
- Photo Gallery: How to Move a House
- Bonus Scenes
Top Customer Reviews
The massive effort that goes into separating a 150-year-old house from the land is just one of many interesting facets to this personal story that touches on the hot-button social issues of race and slavery that this country still grapples with, especially in the South. During the course of the film project documenting the move of the house, Cheshire reaches out to the African-American roots of his family tree, notably Dr. Robert Hinton, a professor at NYU whose grandfather was born into slavery at Midway Plantation. Hinton expresses very different feelings about the plantation house, the land it sits on, and what it means to separate the two.
Moving Midway successfully blends American social history, architecture and a thought-provoking musing on the mythology of the Southern plantation. Threaded throughout is the engaging story of Cheshire's discovery of his unexpected extended family.
Though this is the story of one family's experiences, the themes are universal. Native southern myself, I recognized a lot of my heritage - some of it positive, and some not so much. Both the good and the bad were included in "Moving Midway," nothing hidden, nothing swept under the rug.
The way the past was woven in with the present may be the documentary's best quality. As such it works well for those of us who are familiar with the themes, yet it would also be of interest to those without a direct southern lineage. Historians and genealogists could glean much from this one family's experience, one which is not at all uncommon. Even someone with only a passing interest in the South and its history would come away with a greater understanding of this difficult chapter in our country's history.
This is not like that. Old style... and a great story...
a house on a back road that became a major highway
a family who thought they knew each other but got introduced to 100 relatives who were ignored due to racism and illigitimancy
and frankly the mechanisms and engineering and logistics planning it takes to move a big structure across back roads
Great story, good music, great use of helicopter footage as needed be, great use of shots to depict just how close the highway now was to the house, great history as to the entire mythology of the old southern plantation, good and bad
Most up, for me, seeing the joy of multiple races coming together and realizing they were kin by blood, wanting to hate each other ahead of time, but did not in person, were simply enthralled with the whole history of the place.
Producers suger coated nothing, don't misunderstand me.
It was complicated and messy and confused; they don't neglect that for a second.
An excellent film. I most liked that the director could afford a tripod. I get seasick from this handheld crap on TV all the time. Especially directors who can't abide a talking head on film for 10 seconds, who has to zoom in or out or something because it might be dull. Some of us old farts (I'm late 40s), actually are not strung out on ADD or ADHD drugs. We can handle it. Meantime, this incesant moving of the camera crap other guys pull off makes us nauseated.
I've watched this documentary 4 times now with assorted friends. All have loved it.
In the course of the narrative we learn about the family history and the matriarch who traces her family’s genealogy back to French and English aristocrats. What is overlooked in this process is the fact that one of her ancestors coupled with one of their slaves. Godfrey Cheshire and his relatives have African-American cousins. Thus, the story is one of social change as well as architectural change. The town in which the manse has been sited is now presided over by a black mayor.
Godfrey Cheshire’s doppelganger in this search is Dr. Robert Hinton, a black professor at NYU and, as it turns out, a family relative. Together they talk about the house, the family, the past, our society, and themselves. The result is both sweet and informative, but while this is GC’s first film he is careful to insure that it is neither maudlin nor preachy. It is, first and foremost, a documentary with charming, irascible, honest and funny people. There is just the right distribution of emphasis—on history, on the family, on the engineering challenges of moving the house, and on our culture and society.
This is a sleeper film that deserves attention.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So interesting to experience the history of this family and the old house.Published 10 days ago by J. Benfield
I happened to see a review of this documentary when I was out of town, and purchased a local newspaper. I could hardly wait to return home to see if this was available. Read morePublished 2 months ago by gail latreille
I would recommend this to a very limited audience - those from the Raleigh, North Carolina area, even though it has a great deal of historical significance. Read morePublished on January 10, 2014 by Judy
I'M FAMILAR WITH THE SITE AND THE CULTURE OF THE SOUTH AND THE WAYS OF SOUTHERNERS. i AM ALSO A DISTANT COUSIN OF GODFREY CHESHIRE AND WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT HIM. Read morePublished on November 25, 2013 by Sarah McPherson
This is a great look into Southern life as it was a 100 years ago and where that history has taken us. Read morePublished on August 1, 2013 by Marcia R. Barham
My family history research confirmed that my side of the HINTON family is connected to the MIDWAY PLANTATION! Read morePublished on September 6, 2011 by CrystalA
Before watching this movie I could not imagine how a film-maker could make moving a house interesting or rise above the technical. Read morePublished on July 22, 2010 by David Smith