Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Director:Victor Fleming
Writers:Margaret Mitchell (novel)
Sidney Howard (screenplay)

A little unknown actress who was found after a lot of search for the role of the leading lady - Scarlett O' Hara: Vivien Leigh against the already establish idol Clark Gable. Their love hate relationship I believe is the most likeable part of the film. They fit together perfectly, and, while their chemistry isn't as overwhelming as that of Bogart and Bergman, it's pretty close. As with all couples, their glances and body language say as much or more than their words, and, especially in Scarlett's case, are always more truthful.

Although many believe this film to be overated, but still the lifelong dream of David O. Selznick is a masterpiece woven together with the help of four directors, over a dozen uncredited screenwriters, and several cinematographers. This film speaks volumes of the passion of film making and how dreams do come true in Technicolor even after over 75 years now.

I believe, in the ways in which American myths, particularly those related to sex and gender, are both referenced and then violated in this film, particularly in the character of Scarlett O'Hara is worth mentioning. Rhett holds Scarlett, her face upturned and upper body partly exposed, in a classic pose and poster from the film. The message is clear: male dominance and female passivity, the model for heterosexual romantic love in America (and elsewhere). In Rhett's dreams, maybe, but never completely in reality, and this is precisely the point: Scarlett loses Rhett because of her inability and/or unwillingness to do more than feign the role of submissive wife. While Scarlett at times denies reality, or at least puts off thinking about it, she is the most real character in the story. Caught in America's powerful masculine/feminine gender myth, she also exposes its fallacies by violating it throughout.

Many believe she changes her character too fast and too much in the 60 min epic, but the vivacity of the leading lady is amazing and unthinkable today.

The film is divided into two equal halves spanning civil war to the soap opera style treatment in the second half. If the film today is made into episodic soap opera, it can run for ages before all your hair turns grey.

There are a number of noteworthy supporting players. The two with the most screen time (aside from Gable and Leigh) are Leslie Howard and Olivia De Havilland. Both portray low-key characters, but do it so well that we develop a deep sympathy for them and their plight.
The film is surprise and contentitous on the way the slaves are treated, it almost glamorizes their role in the film. I find it highly disturbing and annoying. The Land serves as a backdrop for all the closing sequences and leaves the lead actress with renewed energy to serve the next sequence.

Death, Women & Stereotypes are the hallmark of the film, and its so long and has so many things to talk about. A review on the film is just too trivial.

My rating: 7/10


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