Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Archival Footage: Gone With the Wind 70th Anniversary

Gone With the Wind is a drawn out affair that many youngsters roll their eyes at if they ever catch a parent or grandparent watching it on TCM. Whenever I start watching it, I initially have the same reaction that I do when reading the Twilight Series ( I know! Sacrilegious to even mention them in the same sentence right?). Bella by the end of the Twilight series, is in effect, just another reincarnation of Scarlett, a whiny brat who somehow makes it through all this adversity and ends up with a throng of male followers. I always wondered why anybody cared about Scarlett and didn't leave her to the Yankees in the first place.

But while Bella remains boring, Gone With the Wind slips under your skin and drags you into the drama and web of selfishness. You aren't supposed to like Scarlett and her continuous melodramatic exclamations, she's not the heroine, but a train wreck. As she and Rhett spiral out of control, you can't help but start to care, either out of some twisted sense of pity or the soap opera drama of it all. It's an experience in itself to listen to the clever words drawl off of Clark Gable's lips.

This is the one film that is synonymous with Hollywood. Set against a beautiful cinematic backdrop where every epic scene is laid out with precision and care, the film captures the lushness of the Hollywood South that exists within the collective American imagination (these images most likely influenced by this film itself). Before watching the film for the first time, I recommend reading a bit about the production and influence it had at the time, facts that only make the film even more impressive. In the background, it captures the death of an era and empire with just the right balance of subtlety and force, an excellent foil to the old Hollywood staginess of the production. But let's face it; that's part of the fun.

Dir. Victor Fleming
Starring: Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Hattie McDaniel
Won: 8 Oscars including Best Actress (Leigh), Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, who wasn't invited to the ceremony despite her win due to her race), Best Director, and Best Picture.

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