I recently read an article about Spectre, a fictitious Southern town that appeared in Tim Burton’s 2003 movie Big Fish. The movie tells the story of Edward Bloom who has always told these enormously tall tales. In his later years, he still remains a huge mystery to his son William. Will begins searching for the truth behind his father’s amazing stories.
I had never seen the movie before, but was interested in visiting the set because of its location being so close to my home. I contacted the owner of the property and made my plans. Of course I had to watch the movie. I was pleasantly surprised. It is really an enjoyable movie.
The film was shot almost entirely in the state of Alabama. Edward Bloom’s home town of Ashton was filmed in the city of Wetumpka. The town of Spectre is actually a set built on an island located on Jackson Lake, in Millbrook, Alabama. Upon on competition of the filming, instead of removing the set the owners were compensated and it was left as-is.
Today the old set has seen better days. It appears that no one has attempted any maintenance or upkeep. In fact, except for the obvious, it has been left much like I imagine it was eleven or so years ago. This is both good and bad. On one hand the few who are able to visit the set are able to see it as it was left, but on the other it obviously wasn’t built to last. Two buildings (the stores) have already been lost to an accidental fire, and the elements are currently taking their toll on the others.
It is very interesting to visit an actual movie set since it isn’t something that many are able to see everyday. For those who have seen the movie you’ll recall that the day Edward finds Spectre it is all clean and appears freshly painted. Later when the town is bankrupt, it appears old and run down.
The paint is now peeling on the buildings, but its layers tell the story.
This is the inside of the first house on the left as seen in the movie, which has smoke coming from the chimney.
This is inside a typical house.
The Mayor’s house is the only house that is finished inside. It is a one room set. This is where the Mayor (Loudon Wainwright III), Norther Winslow (Steve Buscemi) and Edward (Ewan McGregor) eat dinner together.
There are ashes still in the fireplace from the fire in that scene. Notice the white boards used as reflectors and the light brackets above where the table would have been located.
Some of the houses, including the church, have a very realistic brick facade.
This facade is actually a sheet of fiberglass with a wooden cap.
Located at the entrance to the town are two power poles that had shoes hanging from its lines. Today the wires and shoes are missing. A little further beyond are the two Styrofoam trees that attacked Edward on his way out of Spectre. I didn’t have any problem with them on my way out.