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Mount Rushmore

South Dakota

Mount Rushmore on the Big Screen

By: Laura Powell

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    South Dakota

Planning a trip to Mount Rushmore? Learn all about it.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is South Dakota’s most famous landmark, not to mention a star of the silver screen. The granite carving of United States Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln has made cameos in many a movie.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Located about 37 kilometers southwest of Rapid City, South Dakota, Mount Rushmore’s best known movie role may be Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller North by Northwest, starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. Several scenes were shot near the monument, although the climactic chase scene, during which the film’s heroes try to evade a villain while descending from the top of the monument ... well, that was a bit of movie magic. It was actually filmed at a soundstage. The film’s success resulted in a big tourism boost for the monument.

Mount Rushmore was also a location in 2007’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets, in which Nicolas Cage’s character discovers that the monument hides the golden city of Cibola. On-screen, Cibola appears beneath a lake adjacent to the monument. There is a lake behind Mount Rushmore, but the one featured in the film is Sylvan Lake, a 23-kilometer drive from Mount Rushmore. Located on the edge of Custer State Park and sitting at an elevation of nearly 2,000 meters, Sylvan is one of the most scenic lakes in the Black Hills region of southwest South Dakota.

Mount Rushmore has appeared in several other Hollywood hits. In the 1980 film Superman II, Superman stops a trio of escaped villains who head to Mount Rushmore attempting to replace the faces of Jefferson, Roosevelt and Washington with their own. In the 1996 film Mars Attacks!, Martians succeed in carving their faces into Mount Rushmore. When comedian Chris Rock became the president of the USA in the film Head of State in 2003, his visage is seen added to Mount Rushmore in the movie’s last scene. Meanwhile, Woody (Bruce Dern) critiqued the sculpture during his visit while on a road trip in the Academy Award-nominated 2013 film Nebraska.

If you want to photograph your face in front of Mount Rushmore, all you need is a camera and a visit to South Dakota.

You’ll find the Mount Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of southwest South Dakota.

You’ll find the Mount Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of southwest South Dakota.
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