Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gone With The Wind – Still a Spectacle After 73 years on Screen


Gone With The Wind – Still a Spectacle After 73 years on Screen

AMC screened Gone With The Wind yesterday from 6:30am to 11:30am. I missed the first half while giving my in-laws a send off and watching CNN; however, I couldn’t resist the pull of the movie and plopped myself down on the couch to watch the machinations of Scarlett O’Hara for the final two hours.

My mother first took me to see GWTW when I was 11 years old. The movie had been rereleased and was shown at The State Theater in Logansport, Indiana. I was mesmerized and so entranced with the strength of the woman who stood in the field at the conclusion of the first half, holding that yam and vowing she would never go hungry again.  This was long before I ever imagined that I would someday find myself reenacting the Civil War period.

Shortly thereafter my mom gave me her 1936 edition of Margaret Mitchell’s classic to read. Despite the length at approximately 1036 pages, I read the book over the course of a single weekend and realized the story was so much more than what had been depicted on the silver screen. I became fascinated by the American Civil War and how if affected the civilians.  Margaret Mitchell knew Civil War veterans and recalled stories told by her relatives and friends. This book of fiction compelled me to study history.

It is true that for those looking for absolute authenticity in the movie or book for that matter would be greatly disappointed.  Mitchell tended to romanticize the South and the lost southern cause. Keeping in mind, however, that Mitchell was a southerner raised in the tradition of the South, this should not be a surprise – nor should it compromise the great story that emanated from her pen.

For me GWTW is a great story of a woman’s triumph over tragedy, of resilience, of making hard, pragmatic decisions in the interest of survival, and of using her assets to her best advantage to achieve an end. I wanted to cultivate a bit of Scarlett O’Hara within myself, to be able to succeed in what was a man’s world when I entered the workplace while still retaining my femininity.

And, despite the improbability of a well-bred southern girl making a dress from her mother’s faded and dusty curtains, and my incomprehension that Scarlett would actually be infatuated with Ashley Wilkes as portrayed by Leslie Howard, I still love the book and the movie.  In today’s world, Scarlett would probably be on a realty show.

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