Saturday, June 6, 2009

#12: Gone With The Wind (1939)

Gone With the Wind 1

Winner Best Picture at the 1939 Academy Awards

After a very long hiatus, I'm finally returning to watching Academy Award Best Picture winners. Gone With The Wind has been on deck for a very long time, partly because it has been difficult to find the time to fit a four-hour film into my schedule. (Here is my husband's complete review of the film after we watched it last night: "That was a long-ass movie. What a comedy of errors!")

Gosh, what can I say about Gone With The Wind that hasn't already been said before? It's such an enduringly popular film, and yet, for me, it's also such a problematic film. Here's a film that in some ways really glorifies the Old South and slavery, right from the very beginning, referring to it as a land of knights and their ladies fair, and yet at the same time, even within the film, it's not so simple, and even more confusingly, the whole movie really struck a blow for equal rights when Hattie McDaniel became not only the first African American to receive an Academy Award, with her win for Best Supporting Actress, but also became the first African American to EVER TO ATTEND THE AWARD CEREMONY AS A GUEST, for crying out loud. So I would definitely class it as problematic.

And maybe problematic is the point. Life is, after all, often problematic and conflicting, just like Scarlet O'Hara - a spoiled, petulant brat who also happens to be unbelievably stronger and more independent than she realizes. I think I would have to say that my favorite element of the movie is the relationship between Scarlet and Melanie - I love the way that Scarlet views Melanie as a rival and an obstacle to her affections for the tedious, whiny, spineless Ashley (seriously, what does she see in that guy? What do either of them see?), but in the end, the person whom she really loves and who loves her is Melanie. Melanie has her back, time and again, whether she likes it or not. There's a definite undercurrent of female solidarity that is very nice, and which runs through many of the female relationships in the movie.

Anyway, as I said, there's little for me to say about this movie that hasn't already been said, I suppose. I'd seen it before, and I was glad to see it again, but there are definitely too many things wrong with it for me to say it's a favorite.

Okay, I'm going to wrap it up, since I watched the movie on June 5th, and it has taken me to today (July 16th!) to finish up the post about it. Time to go on to the next film.

Gone With the Wind 2

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