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Gone with the Wind: My thoughts on the classic film

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'Gone with the Wind', what comes to your mind when you think of the classic film of 1939?

1. The Great Depression was coming to an end the year of release.

2. WWII was going to start-ironically the story takes place the same time as another famous war a century prior

3. It was the second film by director Victor Fleming to be shown in technicolor

4. It was based on a MASSIVELY successful best selling novel

5. It was also EXTREMELY controversial because of lead heroine Scarlett O'Hara behavior and the treatment of their slaves 

 

If you were to overlook all of those aspects surrounding the movie, you just want to see what it is for YOURSELF.

When you watch a film like Gone with the Wind, and you, yourself analyse the movie. We see it as a film reflecting the lives of the people of that time and how they treat one another. 

 

Scarlett, the inconsiderate, conceited, manipulative Southern Belle whose sadly blind sided to the fact that Ashley Wilkes really truly loves his cousin Melanie Hamilton.

Rhett Butler, the bold, tough, and honest handsome visitor from Charleston who falls for Scarlett and tries to make her understand that she's wasting her time wanting Ashley.

Ashley Wilkes, the cousin of Melanie Hamilton who tries to do what is right and prevent himself from getting into any kind of trouble with anyone, especially Scarlett.

Melanie Hamilton, Ashley cousin, wife, and mother of their son who doesn't try and judge anyone and is always appreciative and compassionate. 

Mammy, the servant who isn't going to let Scarlett be a tyrant to her and stands her ground when she sees Scarlett is up to no good.

Big Sam, the strong and later free slave who doesn't think of the O'Haras as slave owners and saves Scarlett from a near sexual attack and robbery

 

The film explores many of the following themes:

*The most famous theme it lightly touches on is that of racism and how the slaves were treated, which Donald Bogle did an excellent job at analyzing. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aUi7zTDQ6g)

*It also explores the theme of war and how it affects the lives of many, namely those responsible of it happening because of their beliefs.

*Furthermore, it explores the personality of people who chose to be what others might not and wouldn't consider appropriate and disgraceful.

*Another theme it touches on is the love that the main couples have and how they learn to live together after the war.

*Finally, it reflects on the most important thing of all: SACRIFICE

 

Gone with the Wind is a story about the pre-Civil War South where the not-as pleasant Scarlett O'Hara lives. She is literally obsessed with the notion that Ashley Wilkes is her true love. He loves his cousin Melanie and always will. The slaves in the Tara plantation are not oppressed and Mammy is the prime example. The arrive of Rhett Butler shows a difference in opinion about the war and his strong interest in Scarlett. Scarlett and Melanie relationship is not seen as the same in the other person's perspective but they still live in harmony together. The war comes and everyone's lives are forever changed. Time after the war we see the main characters lives are faced with other live altering events: debts, danger, hardship and rumors. In the end, the most important lesson is this... Each of us have face something in our lives which isn't pleasant but we overcome it, above all!  

 

When I first watch 'Gone with the Wind' back in Autumn 2003, I could see WHY my parents liked it so much.

 

 

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Here is what I have written on the movie previously:

It's not surprising Margaret Mitchell chose a woman as the central character of Gone With the Windto personify the destruction and rebuilding of the south during and after the Civil War.  Not many authors have done a good job depicting the internal workings of the opposite sex.  Not having read the book, I will have to take it as a given David Selznick faithfully translated Miss Mitchell's work to the screen.  So what can we see she was saying through the person of Scarlett O'Hara?  She is a strong-willed and determined person.  She knows what she wants, and is clear-headed going about getting it.  Practical, and unsentimental, even to the point of being mercenary, she doesn't hesitate using any tactic to accomplish her goals.  It's understandable, the hardships she faced drove her to make fearsome resolutions.  Scarlett's progress represents the destruction and revival of the southern economy, its agriculture, commerce, and industry.  She's quite a busy person, managing Tara, then becoming a retail queen, and building a lumber empire.  Her marriage to Rhett Butler rounds out the picture with trade.

 But combined with that is a curious and contradictory irrational obsession with Ashley Wilkes.  He is the old order, destroyed in the war, that stood for slavery, nobility, honor.  He was the flower of the social order, its full realization, but also weak, attenuated.  He's a dead end, but in this instance, she blinds herself to reality--out of pride, or conceit, or something, until she realizes (only too late) how misguided she was.  Her preoccupation with him ruins her relationship with the one she ought to hanker after, Rhett Butler, as the south preoccupied with the past hurts its recovery.  He's the future, practical, sensible like Scarlett, unhindered by outmoded ideals, or nostalgia for what's lost.  He's obviously presented as an alternative to the enervated Wilkes.  At the end however, Scarlett remains as she was, a combination of realistic, and irrational.  She rightly recognizes her source of strength is Tara.  But her freedom from her obsession with Ashley Wilkes, alas, is only replaced with another futile hope, getting Butler back.

Margaret Mitchell's efforts to appraise people of the dangers of worshipping the dead past went unheeded, dragging down states, and hindering peoples' advancement for too many decades.  To the contrary, her work is even now not looked on as a cautionary tale, but as a celebration of what she argued should be left behind.  A prime example of people seeing what they want to see, and not what is there.

 

For more discussion, see here:

http://forums.tcm.com/topic/167336-the-south-is-a-woman/

 

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My Great  Grandmother not only liked GWTW--- she LIVED it.

Up in the north eastern corner of Alabama, they certainly didn't have a plantation, but she and her family had to "outwit" the Yankee troops trying to steal their food (She and her sister did this by pretending to have Typhoid, and hiding the hams in the bedroom with them.)

She was the same age as Scarlett---she also got to see the film when it first came out. It was too "overwhelming" for her to watch all at once, she went back to see the second part on the next day. She had read the book many times before she saw the film.

1) This film proves a stark fact of American life---you might get rich, but you will never STAY rich. That isn't the way this country works. You have to change to survive, over and over again.

2) This film is about WOMEN - lots of brave women are found in the book, and their stories teach us a lot. The one unforgiving fact is that the SOUTH is a conquered land, and therefore the men will always be weak because of it. Women (all over the world) don't have the luxury of letting such things make THEM weak. They must keep going, no matter what.

3) I can't fault Scarlett for insisting on Ashley Wilkes---he was the guy next door. I don't see the appeal of Rhett Butler, who IMHO was a cold fish. He also spent pages and pages throughout LECTURING Scarlett about what she should do. Many of his RANTS are supposedly what Margaret Mitchell's MOTHER used to lecture her about.!!!!

4) Reading the book is the great pleasure of the movie GWTW. Many great stories were not politically correct in 1939, but are fascinating today---many details, many conversations, and MANY of these relate to Women's lives, are in the book. ...>

For example, what is Gerald O'Hara doing in the first scenes, when he is visiting over at Twelve Oaks and discovers that Ashley Wilkes is going to propose to Melanie? He's arranging to buy a wife for Pork his butler, because Pork has fallen in love with a single mother who works over at Twelve Oaks, the mother of "Prissy". This woman will be a crucial figure later after the war at Tara. But the interesting thing about Gerald is that he is doing what his servant Pork wants him to do, no matter what.

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7 hours ago, papyrusbeetle said:

2) This film is about WOMEN - lots of brave women are found in the book, and their stories teach us a lot. The one unforgiving fact is that the SOUTH is a conquered land, and therefore the men will always be weak because of it.

3) I can't fault Scarlett for insisting on Ashley Wilkes---he was the guy next door. I don't see the appeal of Rhett Butler, who IMHO was a cold fish. He also spent pages and pages throughout LECTURING Scarlett about what she should do. Many of his RANTS are supposedly what Margaret Mitchell's MOTHER used to lecture her about.!!!!

Ashley Wilkes was inherently weak.  It was the war that brought it out.

At the end of the story, Scarlett realizes her obsession with Ashley was pathologic and that Rhett Butler was the right one for her, only too late.

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15 hours ago, slaytonf said:

Ashley Wilkes was inherently weak.  It was the war that brought it out.

At the end of the story, Scarlett realizes her obsession with Ashley was pathologic and that Rhett Butler was the right one for her, only too late.

What did Wilkes do (e.g. behaviors),  to make you say he was weak?    I don't recall him being 'weak' as it relates to Scarlett,  but I guess it is how one views their 'dance':   E.g. was he weak for NOT having an affair with her?    

OR do you view how he handled the post-war business affairs as weak?    E.g. his compassion for the workers? 

OR how he handled the death of his wife?   

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3 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

What did Wilkes do (e.g. behaviors),  to make you say he was weak?    I don't recall him being 'weak' as it relates to Scarlett,  but I guess it is how one views their 'dance':   E.g. was he weak for NOT having an affair with her?    

OR do you view how he handled the post-war business affairs as weak?    E.g. his compassion for the workers? 

OR how he handled the death of his wife?   

Ashley was a tragic character to me because once his neat little world was ripped apart, he had NO imagination how to cope and reinvent himself.

He was "weak" because he passively allowed the new civilization to "winnow him out". To Ashley, it was as noble as going down with the ship.

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3 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Ashley was a tragic character to me because once his neat little world was ripped apart, he had NO imagination how to cope and reinvent himself.

He was "weak" because he passively allowed the new civilization to "winnow him out". To Ashley, it was as noble as going down with the ship.

Thanks for the reply.   I see the point here;  he was weak more for what he didn't do.

 

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6 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

What did Wilkes do (e.g. behaviors),  to make you say he was weak?    I don't recall him being 'weak' as it relates to Scarlett,  but I guess it is how one views their 'dance':   E.g. was he weak for NOT having an affair with her?    

OR do you view how he handled the post-war business affairs as weak?    E.g. his compassion for the workers? 

OR how he handled the death of his wife?   

Surprisingly, I don't have a recording of the movie, so I wasn't able to review the scene at Tara where Ashley Wilkes admits his worthlessness and tells Scarlett that she will have to be the strong one (overlooking the fact that she's been that ever since the end of the war.)  When he gets back from the war, he doesn't work to revive Twelve Oaks, but accepts a job, and an obviously charitable offer, from a woman--something a southern gentleman of fiber would never do.  

He allows Scarlett to seduce him in his office, or at least begin to when they are interrupted, leading to scandal.

When Scarlett comes to him for advice on how to raise tax money, he has no suggestions, leaving it up to her to save Tara.

He is never a leader.  He never takes action to contend with crises, but is buffeted by them.

As long as it was intact, his inherent weakness as the enervated output of played-out society was concealed.  Without it to shield him after the war, his ineffectualness was exposed.

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