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This film shows the best of the American cinema. Whether we like the
film, or not, one has to recognize the greatest achievement, perhaps,
of the creative talent of the people working in the movie industry.
"Gone with the Wind" represents a monumental leap, as well as a
departure, for the movies, as they were done prior to this film.
The vision of David O. Selznick, the power behind bringing Margaret Mitchell's massive account about the South, before and after the Civil War, pays handsomely with the film that Victor Fleming directed. This movie will live forever because it reminds us of how this great nation came into being, despite the different opinions from the two stubborn factions in the war.
"Gone with the Wind" brought together the best people in Hollywood. The end result is the stunning film that for about four hours keep us interested in the story unfolding in the screen. Of course, credit must be due to the director, Victor Fleming, and his vision, as well as the adaptation by Sydney Howard, who gave the right tone to the film. The gorgeous cinematography created by Ernest Haller gives us a vision of the gentle South before the war, and the Phoenix raising from the ashes of a burned Atlanta. The music of Max Steiner puts the right touch behind all that is seen in the movie.
One can't conceive another Scarlett O'Hara played by no one, but Vivien Leigh. Her beauty, her sense of timing, her intelligent approach to this role, makes this a hallmark performance. Ms. Leigh was at the best moment of her distinguished career and it shows. Scarlett goes from riches to rags, back to riches again and in the process finds an inner strength she didn't know she possessed. Her impossible love for Ashley will consume her and will keep her away from returning the love to the man that really loves her, Rhett.
The same thing applies to the Rhett Butler of Clark Gable. No one else comes to mind for playing him with the passion he projects throughout the movie. This is a man's man. Captain Butler was torn between his loyalty to the cause of the South and his sense of decency. His love for Scarlett, the woman he knows is in love with a dream, speaks eloquently for itself.
The other two principals, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, give performances that are amazing to watch. Ms. de Havilland's Melanie Hamilton is perfect. Melanie is loyal to the woman that does everything to undermine her marriage to Ashley. Mr. Howard's Ashley gives a perfect balance to the man in love with his wife, while Scarlett keeps tempting him.
The rest of the cast is too numerous to make justice to all the actors one sees on the screen, but omitting the contribution of Hattie McDaniel to the film would be sinful. Ms. McDaniel was such a natural actress that she is excellent no matter in what movie she is playing. This huge talent is a joy to watch.
Comments to this forum express their objections to the way the race relations play in the movie, but being realistic, this movie speaks about the not too distant past where all kinds of atrocities, such as the slavery, were the norm of the land. While those things are repugnant to acknowledge, in the film, they are kept at a minimum. After all, this film is based on a book by one of the daughters of that South, Margaret Mitchell, who is presenting the story as she saw it in her mind, no doubt told to her from relatives that lived in that period of a horrible page in the American history.
Enjoy this monumental classic in all its splendor.
Every time I watch this film, and I've seen it more times than I can remember, I'm always astonished by the freshness of the story, the power of the emotions it conveys and the beautiful, detailed images of a time long gone. That this film was made in the 1930's is almost incomprehensible to me. The challenges that had to be overcome in order to bring it to life must have been monumental. But come to life it did, and still does! A triumph of film-making ingenuity and genius, that will live on for many generations to come.
The setting is a Georgia plantation. The year is 1861, and
Scarlett O'Hara is infatuated with the blond, drowsy-eyed Ashley Wilkes -
the problem is, Ashley plans to marry another woman. Little matter that
every other man in the county is courting Scarlett and that a charming
scoundrel named Rhett Butler is staring at her with questionable intent -
she cares only for Ashley.
Suddenly, the Civil War brakes out, changing the fates and fortunes of all. Scarlett, clever, manipulative, and charming, proves an adept survivor - but what will she have to do to survive? And will she ever learn whom it is that she really loves?
GWTW is one of the most meticulously cast films ever; with the possible exception of Leslie Howard as Ashley (in his forties, rather old to be playing a man half that age), every role was perfectly assigned. After you watch Vivien Leigh you will be unable to imagine anyone else playing Scarlett, and Hattie McDaniel's strong, unforgettable performance as "Mammy" netted her an academy award (the first for an African-American actor).
GWTW's backdrop is the gruesome Civil War, and in the end this film is the story a woman and a civilization (the Old South) going through a war that will not leave either of them unchanged.
The cinematography is beautiful, memorable. Gone With the Wind was shot entirely in gorgeous technicolor; the scene of the fire in Atlanta required the use of all eight technicolor cameras in existence at the time.
The pragmatic may think Gone with the Wind overly dramatic; the restless may find it too long; the action-stimulated, too subtle. None of this, however, detracts from the fact that GWTW retains a lasting appeal as one of the crowning cinematic achievements of the 20th century. Those who see its ending as depressing - tragic, even - perhaps miss the point - which Scarlett O'Hara makes in her very last instant with us, tear-stained eyes uplifted in a sudden, curious burst of hope beneath all the turmoil; that .. . "After all, tomorrow is another day." 10/10
I believe that when one views a film, one should consider the context
in which it was made.
Barely 10 years after talking pictures were first created; less than that after the first full-length color feature film was created; near the end of the greatest depression this country ever experienced, and in which pretty much the only entertainment available to most was radio or the movies; David O Selznik decided to turn the biggest pot-boiler blockbuster novel into a movie.
And what a movie. Stunning color, the most popular mail actor of his time, perfect music score, incredible action scenes, story line only 70 years removed from when it happened, and on, and on. Can you imagine what a store-clerk or a farmer, or a teacher experienced in that world, seeing Gone With the Wind? What was there to compare with? 1939 was a watershed year for great movies, and this one was the greatest produced. Try watching this movie as if there were no TV, no DVD's, only a few radio stations, spending maybe the second to the last quarter you owned, never having seen such a movie before, and you get what I mean. Masterful for its time, and still timeless today.
It is always in people's nature to put down great things and to
nit-pick or sometimes just be plain mean. No matter what anyone says,
this is utterly fantastic: in story, in special effects, in casting
(with perhaps the sad exception of Leslie Howard as "Ashley") and in
captivation. Vivien Leigh is so powerful, passionate, magnificent and
beautiful that you could watch it 1000 times on that ground alone. She
brings something so convincing and human to the role of the selfish,
spoilt Scarlett; the character is larger than life.
Leaving Vivien's astounding performance aside, this remains a sweeping unrivalled epic. Watch it. Esther's rating: 20/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the greatest achievements in film history. This is not only an
eye-popping cinematic treat, but one of the greatest stories ever put
on celluloid. The movie lasts nearly four hours--- it's longer than any
other mainstream commercially successful film ever made. But the time
goes by so quickly that you'll miss it when it's over.
Of course, we all know that this movie is set in the days of the Civil War in the 1860s. It's the story of Scarlett O'Hara, a plantation owner's daughter who is very beautiful and who seemingly MUST have her own way at all times. She's willing to scheme and manipulate everyone in her path until she gets it. When the movie opens, the country is on the verge of civil war--- North against South--- but Scarlett barely notices, and doesn't care in the least. Her biggest obsession is that she's in love with dreamy/poetic Ashley Wilkes, and she stays in love with him throughout 98 percent of the movie.
The only problem is....Ashley doesn't have any particular interest in her at all. In fact, he spends most of the movie being married to gentle Melanie Hamilton--- a fact that frustrates Scarlett to no end. Ashley remains the one object of her desire that she is never to obtain.
She would have been better off pining after Rhett Butler, a much more solid, rather dangerous man with a reputation as a no-good scoundrel. He is openly attracted to Scarlett, grows to love her (although he dare not let her know, or she'll use it against him), and it's obvious that he would make a lot better match for her than the drab Ashley. Very late in the movie, he finally does marry Scarlett. But it's probably too late for them to be happy by then, ironically--- and they never really are happy together.
The complicated and utterly fascinating relationship between Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, and Melanie is the fuel that keeps the movie going. But there are dozens, if not hundreds, of little extra twists and turns that fill out the movie. The Civil War backdrop for one, the colorful supporting roles for another.
A great many reviewers here have seen Scarlett as purely a selfish, one-dimensional manipulative shrew. But she's far more than that! This is a complex, multi-dimensional young woman with lots of conflicting motives. Yes, she's selfish and manipulative. But she's also selfless: the extreme sacrifices that she makes on behalf of her family, and Melanie (keeping in mind that, other than her father, she doesn't even particularly like any of them) are nothing short of heroic. She is overwhelmingly protective of her loved ones. She's a ball of fire when work needs to be done, and she's fiercely courageous.
Despite her hardness, she does also grow as a person. To her great credit, she slowly comes to value Melanie's friendship and support. She genuinely loves and is proud of her daughter. And at the very end of the movie, she does finally realize how ill-suited she and Ashley have always been for each other, and how little passion ever actually existed there.
Some quick high points, and a few flaws: the supporting roles are superb in every way. Even the rather bland Ashley is given as much life as could be expected by actor Leslie Howard, and the other parts are vivid and fill out the movie. Two female parts in particular--- wise, funny, respected Mammy (Hattie McDaniel) and wistful, decent-at-heart prostitute Belle Watling (Ona Munson) are standouts.
The scenery and photography is possibly the most superb ever done in the history of film. Many scenes are just sumptuously lit and filmed. The gripping nighttime escape from Atlanta (the whole city seemingly in flames) is one of the most spectacular action sequences ever done. The sunsets are jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Much has been said about the supposed racism of this film. It's true that it does portray black slaves as being HAPPY to be slaves. But much more important, it's also true that the wisest person in the whole movie is Mammy. This black lady may be a slave--- later an employee--- but she is smart, funny, observant, and she's treated as an equal, if not a superior, throughout the movie. And it's made clear she deserves it. With no irony or rebuke whatever, she scornfully refers to certain low-lifes as "poor white trash", and we know (Mammy knows too) that if they get called that, they deserve it. She may be black, but she isn't inferior to them or anybody. And we root for her all the way.
A few minor flaws, and I do mean minor: 1) Most of the acting looks pretty modern, but there are a very few scenes where it seems a little old-style. Hey enjoy the movie and don't worry 'bout it. People didn't do today's "method" acting in the 1930s. 2) Some of the "raw" scenes still have a Hollywood gloss to them. Even when Scarlett is on the brink of starvation and probably hasn't had a good bath in weeks, she looks perfectly made up with only a few hairs out of place. Oh well. It *was* big-time Hollywood after all. 3) The second half of the movie is more "talky" and less action-oriented than the first. I would not say it's more boring, just less movement. I don't find it draggy, but some people do.
Still a heck of a good story, and a great film, so enjoy the ride!
Before I ever saw Gone With the Wind, I was well acquainted with Max
Steiner's theme. It opened WOR TV's Million Dollar Movie before every
broadcast in New York in the Fifties and Sixties. When my parents took
me to see Gone With the Wind in one of MGM's re-releases as the film
music started in my youthful eagerness to show off my knowledge I
remarked to all who could hear that that was stolen from Million Dollar
Million Dollar Movie is gone now, but Gone With the Wind, book and film, remain eternal. In these days Margaret Mitchell's southern point of view book might have trouble finding a publisher, let alone selling film rights to the story. But it is a tribute to her and the characters she created that they remain alive in everyone's mind who reads the novel or sees the film. And that's just about the same because I can't think of another film that remained so faithful to the text.
It is said that Margaret Mitchell wrote the book with Clark Gable in mind as Rhett Butler. As the sober and ever realistic, but charming Rhett, Gable for most of the film is playing a character not to dissimilar from what he usually played on screen. However in the last half hour of the film when he's hit with unbelievable tragedy and he edges to the point of madness, Gable reached dimensions he never did before or subsequently.
If Mitchell knew who she wanted as Rhett, nobody knew who would be Scarlett. The search for Scarlett O'Hara is one of those Hollywood legends as every actress with the possible exception of Edna May Oliver read for the part. Gone With the Wind started filming without a Scarlett as the famous burning of Atlanta sequence was done first. While it was being down, David O. Selznick settled on a fairly unknown British actress, at least in the USA, Vivien Leigh.
It was a stroke of casting genius. Vivien Leigh's screen output is pretty small, she was primarily a stage actress. Gone With the Wind is more her film than Rhett Butler's. The story is her story, how she evolved from a flighty young southern belle to a hardbitten woman who is determined to survive in the style of living she's become accustomed to from the pre-Civil War era. In the process she helps all those around her economically, but loses all their previous affection.
I've always felt the key scene in the film is after Leslie Howard tells Leigh, he'll be marrying Olivia DeHavilland and Leigh makes a fool of herself with him, she finds out that Clark Gable has overheard the whole thing. He's fascinated by her, but because of that he's on to all her ploys.
Leslie Howard usually comes in for the smallest amount of analysis among the four leads. His Ashley Wilkes is not all that different from Alan Squire in The Petrified Forest. Imagine Squire as a wealthy plantation owner and you've Ashley. He's stronger than he realizes though, he's the one that reluctantly enlists in the Confederate Army while the cynical Rhett Butler makes some big bucks as a blockade runner.
I've always felt however that the most difficult acting job in Gone With the Wind was the role of Melanie Hamilton. Olivia DeHavilland after initially considering trying out for Scarlett, decided to go after Melanie.
It's a deceptive part, superficially it's a lot like the crinoline heroines DeHavilland was doing at Warner Brothers. Melanie is the counterpoint to Scarlett, an incredibly kind and decent soul who can't see bad in anyone. One of her best scenes is with Ona Munson who is Belle Watling, the most prominent madam in Atlanta. The other women of society snub her, but DeHavilland accepts her help for the Confederate cause. It's not about politics or slavery for Melanie, her husband is at war and his cause is her's.
And DeHavilland's death scene would move the Medusa to tears. It's a great tribute to the playing skill of Olivia DeHavilland in that Melanie NEVER becomes a maudlin character. She got her first Oscar nomination for Melanie in the Supporting Actress category, but lost it to fellow cast member Hattie McDaniel as Scarlett's mammy.
Hattie's a shrewd judge of character, she's a slave, but she's also a family confidante of the O'Haras. As Gable says, she's one of the few people he knows whose respect he wants.
Of course Gone With the Wind is from the southern point of view. Growing up in Atlanta, Margaret Mitchell heard reminisces from many Confederate veterans and the stories they told found their way into Gone With the Wind. It's about what the white civilian population endured during the war and Reconstruction.
David O. Selznick got a bit of irony in there though. Please note during the burning of Atlanta the slaves who are being marched out to dig trenches are singing 'Let My People Go.' And that's just what the Union Army was coming to Atlanta to do.
Gone With the Wind copped so many Oscars for 1939 that Bob Hope quipped at the Academy Awards ceremony that it was a benefit for David O. Selznick. Of course it was the Best Picture of 1939 and Vivien Leigh won the first of her two Best Actress Awards.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer kept itself in the black for years by simply re-releasing Gone With the Wind. Unlike any other classic film, it won new generations of fans with theatrical re-release. Somewhere on this planet there are people seeing this 67 year old classic and it is winning new fans as I write this.
And I think Gone With the Wind, the telling of the interwoven lives of Rhett, Scarlett, Ashley, and Melanie and the world they knew, will be something viewed and read hundreds of years from now.
Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, in its true essence, is a case
study on the Old American way of living where pride and honor were the
very essence of human existence. Victor Fleming's rendition of the
classic novel, a classic within its own right, does full justice to the
themes propagated by Mitchell's evocative masterpiece. In the words of
Mitchell herself, Gone with the Wind is the story of the people whose
gift of gumption gave them a definitive edge to endure the tribulation
and throes of the American Civil War vis-à-vis those who lacked an
inner resolve and determination needed for survival.
Scarlet O'Hara, the well bred, haughty, tempestuous and opportunistic protagonist of the saga, is an ostensibly flawed individual whose inexorable urge to placate her ego and realize her fancies appears far stronger than her adherence to any credence pious to her people and relevant to her time. Her scintillating charm and unrestrained zeal not only make her an object of desire for her male counterparts but also an object of envy for the girls around her.
Vivian Leigh perfectly fits into the caricature of Scarlet O'Hara. She makes full use of her talent, courage and guile to portray a part that requires subtlety, brusqueness and poise in equal parts. It may sound like a hyperbole, but no other actress seemed better equipped to play the part a southern belle than Leigh herself, who won not one but two Oscars while playing one: first for her portrayal of Scarlet O'Hara and second for portraying Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Marlon Brando. In fact, her portrayal of Scarlet O'Hara, in which she perfectly blends panache, poignancy and peremptoriness, is arguably the greatest portrayal by a female lead in cinematic history. Leigh uses her on-stage experience to improvise in order to add new dimensions and complexities to Scarlet's caricature, which according to the novel was mostly one dimensional: out-and-out bad. Scarlet's stubbornness and her impish obsession for a conformist like Ashley, who is not only indifferent to her feelings but also incapable of reciprocating the passion and zeal with which she pursues him, represent just one dimension of her multifaceted self, which is revealed layer by layer with the progression of the narrative. The viewer is gifted to see Scarlet in various avatars: a usurper, an egomaniac, a damsel, a nemesis, a menace, a guardian, a savior, a patriot, a fighter and most importantly as a quintessence of womanhood.
Clark Gable as Rhett Butler perfectly complements Vivian Leigh's larger than life portrayal. He is an outright reprobate, an unscrupulous opportunist whose life revolves around making money and pursuing carnal pleasures. However, behind this facade, just like Scarlet, there is a human capable of love, and worthy of being loved. These unobtrusive yet obvious similarities make Scarlet and Rhett a perfect match for each other. The subtle chemistry and tension between the two protagonists give the story its impetus and resonant charm. The rest of the cast has given exemplary performances with a special mention of Olivia de Havilland, who as Melanie is a paragon of love, humility and forgiveness. She provides a striking contrast to Scarlet's caricature and represents a more traditional picture of womanhood.
The movie's direction, cinematography, editing and music are all top notch and it is the great synergy of all these elements that makes the movie an extravaganza and an undisputed master piece, one to be savored till eternity. The movie is an amalgam of scenes, high on emotion and drama, which keeps the viewer absorbed throughout. The scene in which Scarlet's father tells her the importance of mother land, deeming it as the only thing worth fighting for, is pure gold. Other scenes that come close to matching its brilliance include the one in which Scarlet performs the duties of an obstetrician to help Melanie give birth to her child, and the one in which Scarlet pledges to protect Tara till her last breath. The movie also has an amazing repertoire of dialogs that are delivered with a nice mix of finesse and accuracy. Butler's famous dialog in which he says to Scarlet, "You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how," also happens to be one of all time favorite.
The movie, especially its anti-climatic ending, brings tears to eyes and leaves the viewer overwhelmed as he experiences a rainbow of different emotions, being awestruck by the tremendous impact of the journey that he is vicariously made to undergo.
PS. Gone with the Wind is undoubtedly one of cinema's greatest marvels and is a living testament to cinema's timelessness, and its limitless potential. A must watch for everyone. 10/10
Gerard O'Hara (Thomas Mitchell), an Irish immigrant, settles in North
Georgia and becomes a prosperous plantation owner
By great luck he
marries young Ellen Robillard (Barbara O'Neill) of Savannah, the
daughter of one of the noblest Georgian families and becomes accepted
by his aristocratic neighbors
They are blessed with three daughters,
Scarlett (Vivien Leigh), Suellen (Evelyn Keyes), and Carreen (Ann
Scarlett, the eldest, worships her mother Yet, under her beauty and Southern coquetry, she is charming, but proud, willful and vain She believes she is in love with Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), a good-hearted young army captain But Ashley loves his cousin, Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland), a delicate, selfless woman He is frightened by Scarlett's energy and animation And although he admits his feelings for her, he is afraid to marry her and decides to take Melanie for his bride
When Scarlett loses Ashley she is more certain than ever that she must have him On their wedding day, she meets Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), a wealthy adventurer from an old Charleston family Rhett, a gamblerwho believes that self-interest is the motive of all human conductis attracted by Scarlett's beauty and realizes that they are equally merciless and conscienceless
Vivien Leigh is magnificent as the spoiled, selfish southern belle... She carries the picture, and controls it... She reproduces the spirited character of Scarlett in all its fluent complexity...
Clark Gablewith a smile and great light in his eyesis fascinating as the elegant, heroic gentleman ... He is perfect as the ladies man... His dramatic high point is his scene crying in Melanie's presence... His love scenes with Scarlett give the picture a vibrancy that is one of its great attractions... The film begins with their first stormy meeting in the library at Twelve Oaks and intensifies at the Atlanta bazaar, when he shocks the confederacy by bidding $l00 "in gold," to dance with the newly widowed Mrs. Hamilton who cares for nothing but herself
Hattie McDaniel gives a rich characterization as Mammy, Scarlett's shrewd black servant who was never fooled by Scarlett's airs and tears...
With a memorable music score by Max Steiner, the film was an instant classic, winner of eight Academy Awards...
If you have ever considered GWTW to be less than a masterpiece, you'll be swayed by the 65th Anniversary Edition DVD. The 4-disc set features the remastered film and more extras than you could possibly watch in one day (after watching the film, of course). The two-hour making-of documentary is fascinating and shows how the producer (David O. Selznick) of the film affected the cast, director(s) and writer(s) -- and shows the publicity frenzy that was the hunt for Scarlett. The feature of Olivia De Havilland (in 2004) discussing her role as Melanie is a real treat. The picture and sound are great on the 65th Anniversary DVD, and the special features are a true treasure. Accept no substitutes, seek out the 65th Anniversary DVD and bring it home.
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