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Best Movies Set in Arkansas

Every state is known for something. As you work your way through the list, don't miss the best movies set in Arkansas. While you're at it, check out the best books set in Arkansas, too.

Arkansas is a southern U.S. state bordering the Mississippi River. It's known for its abundant park and wilderness areas, with terrain encompassing mountains, caves, rivers, and hot springs. The rugged Ozarks region in its northwest has hiking trails and limestone caves such as Blanchard Springs Caverns.

Its capital, Little Rock, hosts the Clinton Presidential Center, housing Bill Clinton’s presidential archives. 

What themes are in Movies Set in Arkansas?

Movies set in Arkansas often explore a variety of themes, reflecting the diverse aspects of the state's culture, history, and landscapes. Some common themes in movies set in Arkansas include:

  1. Rural Life: Arkansas has a significant rural landscape, and many films set in the state depict the challenges and joys of rural life. These movies may explore close-knit communities, agricultural activities, and the impact of rural traditions.
  2. Family Dynamics: Like in many other settings, movies set in Arkansas often delve into family relationships and dynamics. These films may portray the complexities of familial bonds, generational conflicts, and the importance of family values.
  3. Southern Culture: Arkansas is part of the Southern United States, and movies set in the state often showcase Southern culture, including traditions, dialects, and a distinct way of life. This can include portrayals of Southern hospitality, cuisine, and social customs.
  4. Social Issues: Some films set in Arkansas address social issues prevalent in the state or the South as a whole. This could include topics such as poverty, racial tensions, and economic challenges.
  5. Natural Beauty: Arkansas is known for its diverse natural landscapes, including the Ozark Mountains, the Arkansas Delta, and Hot Springs National Park. Movies set in the state may highlight the beauty of these landscapes and the importance of nature in the lives of the characters.
  6. Historical Context: Certain films set in Arkansas explore historical events or periods relevant to the state's history. This could include movies depicting the Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, or other pivotal moments in Arkansas history.
  7. Crime and Justice: Arkansas has its share of crime stories, like any other state. Movies set in the state might focus on crime, investigations, and the pursuit of justice within the unique context of Arkansas.
  8. Sports and Recreation: Arkansas has a rich sports culture, and films set in the state may incorporate themes related to sports, whether it's college football, basketball, or outdoor recreational activities.
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It's important to note that while some movies may heavily emphasize these themes, others may incorporate only certain elements or explore completely different aspects of life. Arkansas provides a diverse backdrop for storytelling, allowing filmmakers to draw from various themes to create compelling narratives.

How to Create a State Unit Study for Arkansas

To create a state unit study for Arkansas, consider the following steps:

  1. Define the Scope:
    • Determine the grade level and duration of the unit study.
  2. Select Key Topics:
    • Cover geography, history, culture, and economy.
  3. Gather Resources:
    • Use books, documentaries, online resources, and videos.
  4. Hands-On Activities:
    • Explore Arkansas cuisine, engage in arts and crafts, and plan relevant field trips.
  5. Writing and Research Projects:
    • Assign state reports and encourage historical fiction writing.
  6. Assessment:
    • Develop quizzes, projects, and presentations to assess understanding.
  7. Integration with Core Subjects:
    • Connect the unit study with math, science, and language arts.
  8. Collaboration and Discussion:
    • Encourage group activities and class discussions.
  9. Celebrate the End:
    • Showcase student projects in a presentation or fair.

Best Movies Set in Arkansas

True Grit (1969)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • John Wayne, Glen Campbell, Kim Darby (Actors)

True Grit

Year: 1969

The cantankerous U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn is hired by a headstrong young girl to find the man who murdered her father and fled with the family savings.

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True Grit

Year: 2010

A stubborn teenager (Hailee Steinfeld) enlists the help of a tough U.S. Marshal (Jeff Bridges) to track down her father's murderer. Directed by the Coen Brothers.

Sling Blade [DVD]
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T. Walsh (Actors)
  • Billy Bob Thornton (Director) - Billy Bob Thornton (Writer)

Sling Blade

Year: 1996

Karl Childers, a simple man hospitalized since his childhood murder of his mother and her lover, is released to start a new life in a small town.

Rosalie Goes Shopping
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Marianne Sägebrecht, Brad Davis, Judge Reinhold (Actors)

Rosalie Goes Shopping

Year: 1989

A kindly but thieving shopaholic tries to turn her mistakes around but does so by becoming a skilled computer hacker, something that could only get her into more trouble despite her goal to impress her beloved family.

Stephen King's The Stand
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Ruby Dee, Gary Sinise, Miguel Ferrer (Actors)

The Stand

Year: 1994

The world abruptly ends when a deadly virus accidentally escapes from a government-sponsored biological warfare laboratory. Soon people are dropping like flies from the plague, but a few survive and find themselves strangely compelled to head into the West.

Good-hearted people follow the voice of an ancient black woman. Bad people follow the enigmatic Walkin' Dude. It is only a matter of time before the two sides are forced into a climactic battle over the final fate of humanity.

Smokey and the Bandit
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason (Actors)

Smokey and the Bandit

Year: 1977

Burt Reynolds stars as the high-flyin', wise-crackin' Bandit whose daring hijinx during an illegal cross-country beer run brings on the wrath of an inept Southern sheriff.

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To continue learning, check out The Arkansas State History Project.

Now that you've completed the list of best books set in this state, why not check out some others? Here are the Best Movies Set in All 50 States.


Click here to download the printable. It has a list of movies in all 50 states including the Best Movies Set in Arkansas.

printable mock-up image of Movies Set in all 50 states

If you enjoyed this list of movies, I have a monthly membership for parents and educators that want to teach or supplement lessons with shows and movies.

“I absolutely love sharing movies with my kids as a way to teach them valuable lessons. It's like this awesome bonding experience where we all snuggle up on the couch with some popcorn, and I get to see their little faces light up with curiosity. Whether it's a classic with timeless morals or a new animated flick with hidden gems of wisdom, it's a fantastic way to impart important life lessons in a fun and engaging way. Plus, the post-movie discussions are priceless – hearing their take on the characters and the story adds a whole new dimension to our family time.” –a Homeschooling parent

With Homeschooling with Shows and Movies membership, you will get resources every month, including:

  • List of This Month’s Suggested Themes
  • List of Monthly Observances
  • List Of Movies for Unit Study
  • Unit Study Resource
  • Seasonal Activities (minimum of three)
  • (BONUSES) Resources for you, the teacher

These resources are worth it if you'd like to easily incorporate shows and movies into your homeschooling.

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