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Gone with the Wind


Gone With The Wind

Scarlett has been in love with Ashley for as long as she can remember. One day to her misfortune, she finds that he's about to get married with her mild-mannered cousin Melanie. But she isn't one to give up. Even after the wedding has happened and everything, she still continues to try and pursue him. Melanie knows that she's smitten with Ashley, but ”smitten” isn't a strong enough word in this case. She's dead set he's the man of her dreams, no matter what he says. In the wake of it all, a Civil War is also close to erupting, and a mysterious gentleman (or so he says) pops up: Rhett Butler. Little does she know what kind of trouble she'll get into with him as well...

Where to start with Gone With The Wind? The Citizen Kane of romance dramas. Except even better. But every occassion I watch a movie with the length of three hours or more, I always need as much concentration as possible. Not even when I paused the movie did I check my phone for messages, who cares about those anyway? They could wait.

And what I got was one of the most unique love stories ever put to film. Especially during the time it was made. During the age of sentimental romance movies starting to blossom (until they exploded in the 40's), Victor Fleming gave us one of the darkest ones of the type ever put to film. True, there is love here, and I experienced several different emotions throughout the movie. But it's not the kind of love that makes you feel happy.

Vivien Leigh plays one of the most unlikeable characters you'll ever witness. When she isn't pursuing Ashley no matter how many times he rejects her, she comes up with ways to screw people over however she sees fit, either because she's in a bad mood or is looking to get something out of it. The most devious thing she does is cheat Frank out of possibly a life-long happy marriage and forces him into a miserable one which puts his life short instead. Even though she did it so her family could raise money to survive, it was a horrible and rotten thing to do. She's completely blind to how much her cousin Melanie loves her, and sees her as an enemy instead due to her committment to Ashley. But it's an amazing character. You absolutely love to hate her, and as nasty and cunning as she gets, you can't stop watching her. Leigh gives a perfect performance, managing to get on your nerves, but never makes it feel unbelievable in any way.
So when Rhett arrives, you think they're practically perfect for each other. Both selfish and with no other goals in mind than their own. But because Rhett doesn't let himself be taken for a fool, he's the one who manages to upset her the most. Even from the scene where they first meet, she hates him already as soon as he gets snappy. Scarlett can't stand that someone calls her out for all her flaws, even when it's affectionate. That's right, for all the teasing Rhett does truly love her. But his bag of tricks with buttery words and kisses do nothing as long as she's in love with Ashley. Clark Gable plays his role with such intensity that he pops out of the screen. He's in practice just as bad as Scarlett, yet there's something about him that's less grating, and rather strangely magnetic. With his classic mustache and smile, you're almost fooled into thinking he really is a proper gentleman. But when he does get angry and fed up, he's scary. The night scene where he sets somber at the table is full of eerie dramatic tension, especially when he hold his hands against Scarlett's ears, attempting to take control of her. By that point he's completely given up. He's through with being a gentleman. Enough is enough. So when we get to the very awaited goodbye at the end, it feels earned. You entirely understand how sick he is of Scarlett's countless mind games. She's flip-flopped from adoring him to looking back at Ashley, and when she blames him for the death of their daughter, that's just too much to take. Anyone would leave at that point.

And yet... you don't wish Scarlett a life of misery. Near the end when she's really, really been through more than anyone is able to endure, and when she's down on her last legs, it's hard not to wish it wouldn't end this way. You get the rug pulled away from under you, making you feel sympathy for Scarlett just when it's all too late.
We still get a glimmer of hope. Tara. The land of Tara. Will she finally get a new fresh start and become a better person? Or is this land the only thing she'll hold onto? The audience is left figuring that out for themselves...

Now when I've gushed about the brilliantly innovative story, there is still so much left to talk about. This movie lends itself for endless analysis.

The supporting cast, much as they have to live up to the towering Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, they all range from admirable to great. It's not only Leigh and Gable who give amazing performances, that honor also goes to Olivia de Havilland. She plays someone with such a relentlessly good heart that you're almost amazed how much awfulness from Scarlett and even Ashley to some extent (it turns out he was cheating on her) she is able to forgive. But some people just naturally are like that. Even after someone has committed such a large amount of mistakes, they try to see the good in the person. Havilland's natural performance gives a lot of humanity that's needed to a someone so settled down as she is. Similarly to Anastasia: The Mystery Of Anna, we get some heartbreaking scenes which show her possibly standing on her last legs, soft-spokenly uttering as much as she still can.
Trevor Howard as Ashley has been criticized, seeing as he sounds miserable all the time. But I thought it fit the melancholy of his character, who has to go through quite a lot of tough **** in war.

To get into the territory of controversy, I can't deny it: I love Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. Even though she's based on a stereotype (How hard could it have been to give her a name?), McDaniel gives her character a warm, lighthearted charm that makes it easy to sympathize with her. She cares about people a lot, and is filled with tears when she has to deliver some particularly bad news. Hattie was truly a one-of-a-kind, and I believe that even if you dislike the way her character was written (which is fine with me), McDaniel deserves all the respect she can get.
Big Sam doesn't show up a lot, but Everett Brown plays him with a similar amount of likability.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Prissy. Now, as for the performance itself, I actually found it kinda cute. Butterfly McQueen's squeaky voice is a joy to behold, and she's a natural comic talent. But man, the way her character was treated throughout the movie... ouch. It was hard to watch. You see Scarlett treating the rest of the black characters just fine, but when Prissy even make the slighest ****-up, she bullies her and even threatens whipping! I felt incredibly sorry for Prissy, and wish she had been given at least a little bit comfort from some other characters. Unlike most of the things in the movie, the cruelty directed at her character didn't seem to serve a lot of purpose for the story and got jarring to watch. Luckily that's the only real flaw in this fantastic movie.

I watched the restored version, so I got to hear all the music compositions before, inbetween and after. I love that all the long old movies have breaks like these. Not because I would be getting impatient, but it really gives you a sense of how big the movie is, and you get to really appreciate the score more as well. I know they were basically there so the audience could take a rest, maybe go to the bathroom... but it adds a lot. Nowadays you never see long movies do this anymore, and any movie closing in on 4 hours is very rare.

If you've never seen Gone With The Wind, I can guarantee you won't regret it if you do.

I felt really bad for that poor horse Scarlett whipped to death. I hope the actual horse wasn't harmed in any way.

9.5/10, rounded up to