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December Talking Meme: Gone With the Wind

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selenak asked me for Gone With the Wind. I haven't read the book, so I will comment on the move. Since I managed to get it from my local library and re-watch it (having seen it only once a few years ago), here are my Gone With the Wind thoughts. Or some of them, anyway.

The first thing that really strikes me about this movie is how watchable it is. This is good because it is also a very long movie, needed two discs of DVD to show the whole thing. This also gives them a chance to focus on a lot of different relationships, including a few nice scenes that develop a friendship between Melanie and Rhett's prostitute friend, Belle Watling. The one relationship that doesn't get much focus is that between Rhett and Ashley. Aside from the scene where they pretend Ashley is drunk when he actually went on a raid against the carpetbaggers, they don't interact that I recall.

Scarlett cries a lot, sometimes manipulatively and sometimes sincerely. Hence my using my Buffy crying icon. I can see some similarities between Buffy and Scarlett if I squint--both start out shallow and end up deepened by events, and taking responsibility for others. Scarlett, in her famous "I'll never be hungry again" scene declares that "my folk" won't go hungry, either. But Buffy has an essential compassion to her that Scarlett lacks. Scarlett never entirely loses the selfishness and shallowness of her youth. Buffy is also not manipulative in achieving her ends the way Scarlett is. Then again, they live in very different worlds.

More eloquent people than me have criticized the movie for its racism. It really struck me watching a scene where slave children are fanning napping young white women how obvious it ought to have been that this institution of slavery was wrong. But it wasn't obvious to most of the white people living in that place and time. The movie romanticizes the antebellum South (and, unless I missed it, never outright states that the war was about slavery), and portrays the enslaved major characters as content with their role on the plantation.

Ashley Wilkes and Scarlett O'Hara's scenes tended to bore me this watch, so I didn't catch all the details. Scarlett and Rhett were more entertaining, but very much an accident waiting to happen. Rhett ignored Scarlett's consent as early as the scene where he leaves her after leaving Atlanta. Perhaps we were supposed to think she really wanted him to kiss her, despite her insisting that she didn't. In a later scene, he says that he thought he could make her love him, which sums about half of the problems with their marriage. The other half of problems are represented by her greater interest in his money than in him, always a difficulty in making a happy marriage.

I like the first part of the movie better than the second part. Once Scarlett and Rhett get married it feels almost like a different story. The characters stay right, though, and it does provide closure for several characters and relationships that we wouldn't have otherwise. I don't mind that movie ends on an unresolved note, though. It feels like a continuing story, and even though it was enjoyable to watch, it still needed to end sometime. The movie is quite long enough.

Comments

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selenak
Dec. 22nd, 2013 07:18 am (UTC)
Thanks for writing the prompt. Since I have read the book first (at age 9), it's always interesting to me to hear about movie-only reactions. (I think the movie stands on its own legs - as opposed to, say, the Harry Potter films, which must be near incomprehensible if you haven't read the books - but that's tricky to judge if you're familiar with the source material.)

Scarlett was the first flawed heroine I ever encountered - in any other book I'd read until that point, Melanie would have been the heroine, and that held true for the film, too, which I watched when I was 11 for the first time, so that was fascinating. It's interesting that you pick up on Rhett and Scarlett as an accident to happen, because I think that's true, but a) this is my adult self talking, who also did a 180 degree turnaround in sympathies re: that relationship - as a child, I thought Rhett was grand and couldn't understand why Scarlett didn't love him from the get go, as an adult, I came to see Rhett as a massive hypocrite and sympathized with Scarlett far more, and b) I think it's more apparant in the book, because Clark Gable at the height of his powers covers a lot, and also the second half of the film actually downplays the degree to which Rhett comes to embrace Southern society values. (I.e. it distills that to the very funny "good morning, Captain Butler...good morning, Scarlett" scene.)

re: BtVS comparisons - I remember a fervent Buffy/Spike shipper observing to me that Buffy was like Scarlett in not realising who she really loved, who really was the only one who truly understood her etc. (can't remember whether it was Riley or Angel who got cast as Ashley Wilkes by default), and I could not help but asking "you do remember Scarlett and Rhett didn't work out, don't you?" "But just because Scarlett realized too late etc.", and err, not really. Mind you, Rhett's absolute conviction that he's the only one who understands Scarlett and all will be fine and dandy as soon as she acknowledges that do have some s6 Spike parallels. Not least because he's wrong. There are considerable parts of Scarlett he doesn't get - her relationship with Melanie, the importance Tara has for her, the fact her selfishness also comes with a core of responsibility-taking, no matter whether she actually likes the people in question - and you can make a case, as this meta does, that far from living in an idealistic neverland, the most clearsighted person not just about Scarlett but everyone else is actually Melanie.

(One big difference to Spike: Rhett's early "be yourself, go against society" encouragement of Scarlett not only carries the unspoken "...and I'll be there" but also deliberately, on Rhett's part, ignoring that as a woman, being ostracized means something quite different for Scarlett. Rhett can be regarded as a rogue but still received in society, and when he turns over another leaf, he's immediately re-embraced...because he's a man. The only reason why Scarlett in the second half is received by anyone at all is Melanie, and of course at that point Rhett blames her for a lot which he previously encouraged when he thought it would get him what he wanted.)
itsnotmymind
Dec. 22nd, 2013 05:13 pm (UTC)
(I think the movie stands on its own legs - as opposed to, say, the Harry Potter films, which must be near incomprehensible if you haven't read the books - but that's tricky to judge if you're familiar with the source material.)

The movie stands beautifully on its own legs. It's really a very well-done film. No wonder it swept the Oscars.

It's interesting that you pick up on Rhett and Scarlett as an accident to happen, because I think that's true, but a) this is my adult self talking, who also did a 180 degree turnaround in sympathies re: that relationship - as a child, I thought Rhett was grand and couldn't understand why Scarlett didn't love him from the get go, as an adult, I came to see Rhett as a massive hypocrite and sympathized with Scarlett far more,

I saw "Gone With the Wind" first as an adult, so I had a more mature things. Plus I'm not sure how much I had been spoiled for, so I may have come into the movie knowing that they didn't work out. I can see where you would have wanted Scarlett to love him from the start as a kid. He's an appealing character, and they make an appealing couple.

b) I think it's more apparant in the book, because Clark Gable at the height of his powers covers a lot, and also the second half of the film actually downplays the degree to which Rhett comes to embrace Southern society values. (I.e. it distills that to the very funny "good morning, Captain Butler...good morning, Scarlett" scene.)

I don't know a lot about the differences between the film and the book (except for Scarlett's other children), so this is interesting to read. In the book, is it just for Bonnie's sake that he embraces Southern values, or are there other reasons?
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