When a friend asked me to write about Gone With the Wind I could not say ‘No’ because no movie list is complete without its mention.
It is more than 70 years now that Gone with the Wind was made but it still has the same appeal for the moviegoers, young and old. The story represents a sentimental view of the Civil War in the Old South and it shows the rise and fall of petulant and capricious, willful and maneuvering Scarlet O Hara. Infact the Civil War seems like the only way to bring Scarlett to her knees. While watching the movie one has to keep in mind that the era it represents is fundamentally different from ours, when segregation was still the law.
At this time and age, the movie and its ethos might be frowned upon because it talks of a ‘civilization that has gone with the wind’. A civilization that bred on the sweat and blood of the slaves, a gentility nurtured by the hard toil of the slaves. “There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind.” Heck but then who is asking the slaves? Though no remorse is shown towards the African American population but to the credit of the movie they are treated with humanity and complexity.
Scarlett o Hara’s character has been perfectly played by Vivien Leigh, a relatively unknown British actress. She has breathed in life and poise into the role of Scarlett and no one other than her fits into the shoes of Scarlett. Of course Margaret Mitchell had Clark Gable in her mind when she penned down Rhett Butler who perfectly compliments Vivien Leigh. Scarlett and Rhett seem perfect for each other.
Scarlett is a haughty, tempestuous and an opportunistic protagonist, the flawed heroine, who has a huge ego and believes that whatever or whoever she fancies will be hers. Her conniving and manipulative ways leaves her lonely, desolate and loveless even with three marriages. She first marries Charles Hamilton because she can’t lay her hands on Ashley Wilkes. After Hamilton is killed in the war she lies and schemes into marrying Frank Kennedy with whose money she builds and runs a successful mill and shames Ashley to join her as an employee. Soon she is attacked by hobos and in the fight that ensues Frank is killed. Shortly after that she marries Rhett Butler, nevertheless pines for this one man she cant have, Ashley.
Rhett is a reprobate, unscrupulous opportunist whose life revolves around womanizing which makes him a social pariah. He overhears Scarlett’s advances to Ashley on the day of the Barbeque who was shortly to marry his cousin Melanie. Rhett admires her willfulness and her nonchalance to societal impropriety. Even as a widow to Hamilton, Rhett encourages her to dance during the mourning period and Scarlett deriding and ignoring the rules of polite society encourages her firebrand self to befriend Rhett. Much later when Melanie is dying in her arms, she realizes that her love for Ashley was just a childish obsession, she actually loved Rhett, she rushes over only to be slighted by him with the blasphemous but now famous words, “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Gone With The Wind has won 10 Oscars and of course one was awarded to the leading, lady who brought in so much oomph and charm into Scarlett o Hara, Vivien Leigh. The Film also boasts of the first Oscar for an African American, Hattie McDaniel in a supporting role.
Seen it or not, the movie has been heard by all as a time capsule of a period that is looked with no prejudices, of a Civilization that is long Gone but definitely not forgotten and will not be forgotten for generations to come.
Leaving you with some memorable scenes of Gone With The WInd