Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)

“With enough courage, you can do without a reputation”


This is a big bast**d to watch. I purchased this, as I do, with the full intention of watching it quickly but alas – much like the regularly mentioned David Lean collection (2 out of 10 so far…) – it spent a long time sitting on the shelf before being viewed. One thing I do appreciate about Gone with the Wind and Ben-Hur is that, halfway through they have a break – an intermission – whereby you can break the film up. Specifically, as I did with Gone with the Wind, watch one half in the morning and the other in the afternoon. Ben-Hur was over a weekend, two hours a day. Same process with The Lord of the Rings Extended Cuts – two hours at a time please. Thing is, I cant do that with Gandhi and it waits patiently for a three-hour gap I can give it…

All the Boys Love Scarlett O’Hara

I haven’t read Margaret Mitchell’s novel – and don’t really intend to – so I go into this film not knowing how it will end. But it starts with Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) being fawned over by identical twins – are all men the same? – and it shows, following this, that she lives a life of wealth with all men in love with her. Inevitably perhaps, the only man who doesn’t is Ashley (Leslie Howard – not Trevor Howard … don’t got them mixed up now…), an obvious gentlemen who himself is married to Mel (Olivia de Havilland). It isn’t long before we meet the complete oppostie to Scarlett – a social outcast and misfit in the affluent society Scralett is so dependent on – Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). He is struck by O’Hara, makes his advances – knowing she loves Ashley – and is rebuffed. Picky Scarlett waits for Ashley who, she believes, will eventually fall for her…

Iconic Shots

On this first watch, it was incredible to see the fascinating silhouettes in place – with stunning visuals as the fire burned down and the small horse and carriage trundled across the frame. Many pictures could be reproduced to look like gainsborough. This is only brief, so all the details regarding the multiple directors attached to the project and the fascinating stories behind the scenes, I shall not explain here (maybe on a ‘rerelease’ of the analysis), suffice to say, these factors inevitably contributed to the production of  Gone with the Wind. What is a fact, is how iconic so many shots are – and how the use of silhouette is highly influential from this cinema, alongside the epic scale of the story, equally fascinating and well handled.

A Final That Cannot Be Reproduced

The thing is with ‘classic’ cinema is the different types of importance they have – on the one hand you have the films that ‘inluenced’ others – though now, watched in retrospect, has been made ‘better’ ever since. Then you have other classics which simply had everything perfectly placed. It canot be remade, it cannot be recast or performed on stage – it simply is what it is with the perfect cast for the perfect story, released at the right time, etc. Gone with the Wind is in the latter – with a finale that can only be acted by Leigh and Gable delivering lines, scripted by Sidney Howard, at that time. The entire film, Rhett loves Scarlett and yet, Scarlett doesn’t reciprotcate – constantly waiting for Ashley. The final scene, Scarlett – with everything she has – realises who she should love and who she should have been with all that time telling Rhett that she loves him, but alas he walks out of the door to leave – having now decided he doesn’t love her anymore …
Scarlett chases him down the stairway – “Rhett, Rhett… Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?”, and he responds: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn”.
An incredible end to an incredible film. The epic nature of this film cannot be explained in words and I think it helps – you watch this film ‘prepared’ its not an easy watch, due to its length, so you build yourself up for it. To see how Scarlett falls so far from the pedastool she sat on, as twins fawned over her in the opening scene – to the rebuffed woman, crying on her majestic staircase over Rhett is fascinating. The film ends as Scarlett looks up “after all, tomorrow is another day”, knowing that her home of Tara still stands.
At least we know that Gone with the Wind will always be there for the biggest, boradest epic romance of all time. And, referring to the reviews chosen quote, it will always holds its reputation for the future – and so it should.

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