Gone with the Wind is a film based on Margaret Mitchell’s book with the same title. Tagged as one of the most memorable love stories in American history, Gone with the Wind is not only a story of love between Scarlett O’ Hara and Rhett Butler but is also a story of a woman’s struggle to keep her family alive through years of war. Set against the American Civil War, the film is mainly influenced by the events of that time. We get a glimpse of the social structures of the 1800’s and of the roles expected of women at that time. B. MEDIA
The film, despite its historical background, is more of a dramatic manifestation rather than a documentary of the events during the American Civil War. Done in Technicolor, the film features theatrical music with a touch of country to go well with the Atlanta and Jonesboro settings. The music was mostly passively used in the background, segued to indicate change of scenes. However, there were some scenes when music was an integral part, enhancing the emotions and actions depicted in the film. Being a really old film, Gone with the Wind does not have the special effects that movies nowadays have.
It is, however, effective in recreating the Civil War and making the viewers feel what it would have been like to be in that situation. Explosions and gunfire were used to reestablish the film’s setting. Shots were very conventional, using wide shots to establish a scene and close-ups to enhance emotional integrity. Gone with the Wind, featuring mostly Southern characters, includes a plethora of characters speaking with a Southern drawl. The language was mostly contemporary, with a few slang usages here and there.
Hats off to the well-known actors such as Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara), Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton) for pulling off the characters originally designed by Margaret Mitchell. They were excellent actors and they gave life to characters recreated in this screenplay by Sidney Howard, though the story was flavorful enough that it can be portrayed by anyone with good acting skills. Featuring well-known actors, though, helped promote the film and possibly helped in raking in big money for the producer David O. Selznick. C. CONTENT
The film offered abundant source of memorable scenes. In one of the earlier scenes, we see Mammy helping Scarlett get ready for the Wilkes’s barbeque party. Instead of a grumpy, complaining slave, Mammy seem to be in high spirits and just happy helping out the O’ Hara sisters. Though this highlights the sad social structure existent at the time of the movie, Mammy’s strong hold on Scarlett and her “don’t give me nonsense” approach to Scarlett’s usually hard-to-resist charms show how – despite the racial structure of the times – African-Americans play an integral role in the American household.
However, in another scene, African-Americans were depicted in a negative way. When Melanie Hamilton was about to give birth, Prissy lets it slip that she is knowledgeable in midwifery. At a crucial point of the childbirth though, Prissy panics and admits, “Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies. ” This is eye-catching in the sense that is ‘glorifies’ one of the stereotypes associated to African-Americans. The way Scarlett O’ Hara acts is also often a point of contention in the movie.
Though shown as a strong woman who was able to carry her family through bad times, Scarlett was also shown to be clingy and desperate in most scenes. This was most apparent during the Wilkes’s party, when she choreographed the whole afternoon to catch Ashley’s attention. In all the scenes mentioned, the main issue revolved around racial, social, and cultural boundaries. The scenes depicted how far along societal rules were during the setting of the movie.
Though often criticized for being too leaning on stereotypical portrayals, Gone with the Wind still is very much a picture of the truth of that existed back then. D. BIAS Victor Fleming, the credited director of Gone with the Wind, was mostly an action film director and had his first hand at romantic drama with the film in discussion. One cannot say, though, that whatever biases the film had been his “fault”. Gone with the Wind is mostly producer-driven and Fleming may only have marginal influence on the film’s outcome.
And since the film was highly-based on the novel, the “biases” can be attributed to what Margaret Mitchell wrote. (Myrick 126) E. EFFECTIVENESS / HISTORICAL CONTEXT Though very different from films that most of us are used to nowadays, Gone with the Wind was very effective in evoking the emotions it aimed for. The combination of the restructuring of the Civil War and the powerful acting accounts for the film’s effectiveness. The combination of both – plus its basis on a historical fact – also points to why the film was very profitable.
Every American knows of the horrors that the Civil War brought us and the film’s effective depiction of this point in history made everyone love the film more. All in all, the film – with its combination of a moving plot, powerful cast, and good filming – was worth a watch. Though mostly dramatic than historical, anyone who wants to relive the Civil War can give this movie a shot. WORKS CITED Myrick, Susan. White Columns in Hollywood: Reports from the GWTW Sets. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1982.
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