Monday, 25 April 2011
Gone with the Wind
Gone with the Wind was a key part of my childhood. My mother took me and my sister to see this at the cinema when I was about nine or so. All I could fixate on were the dresses - so flouncy and pretty! The scene where Scarlett is getting ready for the barbecue is just perfect and look at the dress she wears.
It's divine. I don't really know any little girl who wouldn't have been entranced. And I love this scene:
In the book it explains that Scarlett sits there and not at a table as you can only have two sides at a table and she wants the men to be all around her! Genius.
It took a little longer for me to appreciate everything else about GWTW. The very definition of an epic movie, it's as watchable today as it was 70 years ago. If you've only ever seen the film, you could be excused for being puzzled as to why Scarlett is so in love with Ashley Wilkes. I have nothing against Leslie Howard but he is not right as Ashley. In the book, Ashley is much more attractive and dashing and crucially, younger. I am rereading the book now. I don't know how many times I have read it but I never grow weary of it. I am reading it on my Kindle which is a revelation as the book is rather heavy. Despite having read it numerous times, I am still hooked. Margaret Mitchell has a beautiful writing style and the story zips by. In one chapter Scarlett gets married, widowed and has a baby! Talk about a pacey read. If you've not read it and you have any interest at all in the civil war, American history generally and like a good love story then give it a go. It's a very easy read. But be warned, it's tragic. Much more so than the film.
Back to the film. They had to cut so much from the book - Scarlett actually has three children. There is a scene they change from the book inexplicably and it has always annoyed me. It is when Melanie gives her wedding ring first to The Cause in Atlanta. In the book, Scarlett gives her first because she doesn't care as she never loved Charles. Melanie moved by her generosity then gives hers. Of course Rhett can see straight through it all. Why do they change this in the film? I don't like it when films change the book for no reason whatsoever. That aside, it's a great movie and forms part of my family's in-jokes. My sister and I pull each other's hair like Scarlett does to Sue-ellen at the beginning of the film: "oh hush up!" We will say to each other "Scoot up the stairs!" as Scarlett does to Mammy. As I've said before, we're hilarious.
I have many favourite scenes in GWTW. There is the entire barbecue scene which depicts such a gloriously decadent way of life. There is the scene where Rhett proposes to Scarlett" "I can't wait my whole life waiting to catch you between husbands!" There is the scene where Scarlett decides to make (well Mammy makes it) the dress from the curtains. I have always loved this and look how clever they are:
If I had to pick one scene above all, it would be this one. The look on Scarlett's face when Rhett bids for her is priceless.
The story of GWTW is of course the story of Rhett and Scarlett. Why can't she see he is in love with her from day one? Why does she pine for wet Ashley? Why can't they talk to each other when they lose Bonnie? It's a tragedy to be sure. In the book the description of the kiss when he says goodbye to her and goes to join the war is unbelievably hot. The film can never quite capture it although it has a good go.
Vivien and Clark - perfect casting for a perfect film.