Gone With the Wind Retro Talk; Grade: B+
Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk! Before we get this film discussion started, let me just say that I don’t condone any form of censorship towards any film in existence. Films do not create monsters; Experiences with people and lack of guidance creates monsters. Film is more than a platform, providing entertainment and just moving images. Film is an art form, that can make you feel many emotions, as you learn that every single human being is different, as you come to sense many different perspectives. Censoring any film does absolutely nothing, as it causes more damage than good. You want to live in a better place? Start by practicing Love, Patience, Positivity, and Peace, abandoned hate/negativity. Learn how to use Communication, when dealing with people that have a different perspective on topics, as you don’t lash out on them because they don’t think the same as you do. Bullying is not the solution to defeat hate, working together and trying to understand one another’s feelings, will provide us a better future. Be a helping hand whenever you can be, we want to see progression, rather than be stuck in the same place. Thank You and God Bless You.
This week we’ll be talking about Gone With the Wind. This film was made back in 1939, by director Victor Fleming. This is the same year, that Wizard of Oz, a film also directed by Mr. Fleming was released as well... So it was a pretty good year for him. Gone With the Wind went on to win 8 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and most noticeably Best Supporting Actress Hattie McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel winning Best Supporting Actress is the most recognized achievement, due to the fact she’s the first African American to receive an Oscar. For those wondering: No I did not panic buy this film, like many have done recently, for my first time watching this film. I got a Netflix DVD subscription, so I was able to rent it, never buy a movie unless you watched it first. So let’s discuss Gone with the Wind.
Gone With the Wind tells a story about the rise and decline of the Confederate party, as it’s centered around a man and woman from that party. Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) is a stubborn rich girl, whom is never satisfied unless she gets what she wants. Rhett Butler (Clark Cable) is an extremely wealthy man, whom is popular among his peers. Rhett tries to establish a romantic connection with Scarlett, during the Civil War. As the war closes in, the two drift apart, as Rhett vows to partake in helping his party.
So let’s start this discussion by asking ourselves: Does this film need a professor to provide historical context, before showing it?! If you feel more comfortable with the idea: I don’t mind it, just don’t spoil the movie while doing so. A good example is 13 Reasons Why; some episodes provide warnings, where it actually spoils the entire episode. But honestly: The opening credits of this film, already provides us historical context. It’s pretty much translates as a story of the downfall of the Confederate Party, told by a Southern’s perspective, due to the fact it’s claimed as “This Pretty World”. I figured that out in a couple seconds, as the context in the opening credits made me understand the story and why these characters acted differently, than what we’re used to seeing.
Is Gone With the Wind a racist film?! The film has racist elements, condoning the actions of the characters whom represented the confederate party, as their lifestyle of owning slaves felt normal to them. Since this film is told by a Southern perspective, the characters may feel completely fictional, as their lifestyle felt normal to them. That’s why we rarely see not much harm physically, other than Scarlett slapping the face of one of her slaves. While absolutely nothing verbally, other than Scarlett calling the African Americans “Darkies” while speaking with a business man. As far as the way the Slaves are presented in this film: You can understand why it gets under people’s skin. They’re happy and lackadaisical towards all that’s going on around them, as they feel it’s a just grand ole day being a slave. Especially in scenes, where two African American boys swing happily side by side ringing the bell... At that point I was like, “Oh no, this is gonna be bad”. Even the way they talk, you can tell it was told by a Southern’s perspective. Some speak fluent English, while a couple feel like they;re dumbed down a bit. Especially one scene, where one chases a chicken, so they can feed the white folk. So partially yes.
Since Gone With the Wind is made by the same film maker, whom made Wizard of Oz, it’s no surprise that this film was visually ahead of it’s time. It’s actually a visually breathtaking film, that provides an experience more towards the first half of the film. There are a couple shots where you can tell it’s green screen, but other than that, many shots in this film is absolutely stunning. Followed by a terrific composed Score. As far as the Georgia Marching Band abandoning the idea of playing songs from this film, doesn’t bother me one bit, in fact not playing songs that represents a hatred perspective is a good change. The film also has a great cast all around, as everyone was on their A-Game in this film. Vivien Leigh won an Oscar playing Scarlett rightfully so, as she gives a pretty damn good performance. Honestly I hated this character Scarlett, the way she’s forever stuck in her selfish and stubborn ways, really pisses me off. Especially going through tragedy, as she does however gain triumph, but when she’s at a great place yet again... She becomes the same ole stubborn person, we all know. The significance of this character, plays a pivotal role metaphorically speaking regarding the party, which we’ll get to.
Clark Cable playing Rhett Butler played a great performance. Despite being rich and successful, he’s actually a troubled drunk, which we see several cases. With all the money he has, he never really is genuinely happy, as he wants to pour his heart out to someone that actually loves him for him. He never got that with Scarlett, marrying him out of spite, as well as the man Scarlett loved didn’t love her back. So a great question is: Are Scarlett and Rhett protagonists?! I think with Scarlett, within our eyes and the southern perspective, she never becomes one due to never growing as a human being. She remains entirely the same person the entire film. With Rhett I think he’s more a protagonist in the Southern’s perspective, just cause he’s empty regarding loneliness, as nobody loves him for him and just wants his money. Like this character does actually have a heart despite being troubled, we don’t agree with his values, but I can understand this being a protagonist in this Southern’s perspective’s story. I mean the guy even stuck up for Mammy, as Scarlett refused to believe she deserved anything... Seriously I hate Scarlett man, Mammy was a nice lady, she didn’t deserve disrespect.
Hattie McDaniel playing Mammy was great, as I felt this was a rightfully deserved Oscar winner, which is an important achievement. The scenes where Hattie had to show emotion, towards the tragedies going on in the household was outstanding. You felt they were genuine tears, as it does put the icing on the cake towards those heart wrenching scenes. I liked the character Mammy, problematic can found in a couple sequences, but I just felt she came from a place wisdom, as she did had a heart as well. I honestly would keep this film around, just for her Hattie’s historic achievement alone. I feel it would do more harm to her memory, than ever proceed any gain... Which honestly like I said before, censoring this film is not going to change anything.
I do have flaws with Gone With the Wind. Both halves of the film had a rocky start. It did take me a good minute with each part, for me to get myself on board with the story of the film. I did felt the timeline in the second half, honestly confused me. Also that one scene, where the authorities are trying to arrest a couple drunken southern folks, as I don’t understand... Why they hesitated in doing so? Throughout the course of this scene, they keep saying they’re under arrest, but since they’re in the house they can’t arrest them... Very strange scene.
As I’ve stated earlier I understand this film is told by a Southern’s perspective, as I don’t condone their actions nor their values. However: Judging a film because one behind the perspective of the film alone you don’t agree with, not giving them a fair shot, is completely unfair. Whether I like/dislike the person, agree/disagree with their perspective, I have to at least give them a fair shot, you never know what a film might actually do. With that being said: Gone With the Wind, despite it’s problematic nature, is honestly a really good film.
The experience alone is worth seeing, the technical aspect in which this film was made is truly outstanding. When the film gets going in both parts... It does really get going. The first half is what makes Gone With the Wind an experience, it felt like I was in the Civil War with them. As far as entertainment value, it’s the better half by far. But as far as meaningful value: The Second Half excels. The tragic scenes really do hit a number on me, as I did felt bad for Rhett and surprisingly enough Scarlett as well. You know the first half of the film shows the rise and decline of the party... But the second half, also shows why that is, more towards a deeper meaning. The first half you can clearly see why they lost the war: They were Cocky. Majority of the characters of the film were lackadaisical when the war was happening, as they felt it was a walk in the park, only to find themselves in defeat. If they actually taken the war seriously, as they didn’t kept trotting around like nothing is going to change, as their immortal... Maybe they would’ve won the war. That’s why they were defeated. For the second half, an is Scarlett alone: Why you think the Confederate Party end up failing?! Not only was the war the result, but it’s due to the fact they never grown out of their stubborn, selfish, and bitter ways. When you live a life of hatred: The result in maintaining that success doesn’t last, unless you grow out of it, as you can see a sense of maturity and progression.
In a way Scarlett metaphorically can represent this party. Even when tragedy hit the fan for her at the end of the first half, she still never learned a single thing. That’s why when she’s brought back power and control, she does absolutely nothing with it, resulting in a much greater decline. When you don’t progress as a human being and you still lead a way of stubbornness/hatred: You end up losing hard at the end. God only rewards those that actually make use of their blessings, since Scarlett remained a stubborn person... She crashed HARD. With the many chances Scarlett had to improve on her well being, it was too late for her to proceed in becoming a better person, leaving Rhett Butler to depart for good from her. For what it’s worth I felt this was a very well written screenplay, it honestly shines bright in the second half for sure, providing the audience a great amount of emotion towards our main characters. You and I may not condone the nature of our characters, but it’s hard to deny that this is actually a well thought out narrative, that is telling a compelling story. I felt the film was an experience, that surprisingly in a way had something to say.
Overall, Gone With the Wind is a pretty good film. I actually recommend experiencing this film once. The way that Gone With the Wind should be handled going forward, should be exactly how it’s been handled the last eighty one years. If you like Gone With the Wind: You’re fine, you can continue to watch it. If you don’t like Gone With the Wind and you find trouble with it: You’re fine, you don’t have to watch it. Respecting people’s views and opinions, while having a conversation about a film can actually bring way more progression, than doing a great amount of damage censoring the film itself. Let people explore, enjoy, and hate films in peace... Focus on being better people to each other, than blaming films for your own problems. -Mitch Smietana