The Exumas Feature
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Island of the Stars
The Bahamas have served as a source of inspiration for countless artists, writers, and directors. The country's movie legacy dates back to the era of silent films, including the now-legendary original black-and-white version of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which was filmed here in 1907. Since the birth of color film, the draw has only increased—directors are lured by the possibility of using the islands' characteristic white sands and luminous turquoise waters as a backdrop. Among the more famous movies shot in the Bahamas are Jaws, the cult favorite whose killer shark has terrified viewers for more than three decades; Flipper, the family classic about a boy and a porpoise; Splash, whose main character is a mermaid who becomes human; and Cocoon, about a group of elderly friends who discover an extraterrestrial secret to immortality. Most recently, parts of the two sequels to Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest, and At World's End, were shot on location in the Exumas. Thunderball and Never Say Never Again were both shot on location in Staniel Cay, one of the northernmost islands of the Exumas' chain.
Ernest Hemingway wrote about the Bahamas as well. He visited Bimini regularly in the 1930s, dubbing it the "Sportsfishing Capital of the World." His hangout was the Compleat Angler, a bar that housed a small Hemingway museum until it burned down in January 2006. Among the items the museum displayed were Hemingway's drawings for The Old Man and the Sea—rumor has it that the protagonist looks suspiciously like one of the Angler's former bartenders.
The Bahamas not only seem to spark the imaginations of artists, but have also become a playground for the rich and famous. Lenny Kravitz and Patti LaBelle own homes in Eleuthera, while the stars of Cocoon, the late Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy, were regular visitors to Goat Cay, a private island just offshore from George Town, Exuma. Johnny Depp purchased a cay in the Exumas after filming on location for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Nicolas Cage and Faith Hill and Tim MacGraw own private islands in the area as well. Many world-famous celebrities and athletes hide out at Musha Cay, an exclusive retreat in the northern part of the Exumas, where a week's stay sets you back $24,750 for the entire island. David Copperfield bought Musha and its five houses in July 2006 for $50 million, renaming it Copperfield Cay. Although the cay won't name its guests, the all-knowing taxi drivers at the George Town airport mention Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan as a couple of the esteemed visitors.
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