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Old October 29 2012, 11:36 AM   #1
Kirkman1987
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Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

Gone With The Wind is ranked by the AFI as the 6th greatest American film (It was formerly ranked 4th on the old 1998 list), but I know lots of people who can't stand this supposed American institution. They cite it as an overlong glorified soap opera, or pine about the outdated black stereotypes

I'm curious what people on this board think of the film. I've changed my stance on the film over the years. I certainly recognized it as a great accomplishment the first time I saw . However, outside of a few scenes here and there, I didn't really like it. I loved the technicolor filmography, Max Steiner soundtrack, the epic scope and acting etc. But that said, the love quadrangle plot didn't interest me much and I found Scarlett terribly annoying. I watched the film yesterday however, and I've realized that I like the film more and more each time I revisit it, to the point where it's becoming a favorite. I've gained a respect for Scarlett, even if I still don't really find myself caring for her much. Clark Gable is a powerful force in the film. He has so many great sarcastic lines and just exudes masculinity.

If anything still bothers me in the film, it's that the second half isn't as strong as the first, and the last hour or so actually starts to drag (at about the point Rhett and Scarlett are married). Losing the Civil War backdrop removes a lot of the mood, and the depressing relationship problems certainly aren't as rousing as the early romance was. It's by design, but it's pretty tough to sit through that.


I'm going to discuss the race issue, since it will inevitably come up. It personally never bothered me, although I get the complaints.It's a product of it's time and what is there isn't terribly offensive imo (They actively tried to avoid the infamy of Birth of a Nation).


One thing is for sure, David Selznick had a vision and the balls to see it through. What do you guys think?
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Old October 29 2012, 11:49 AM   #2
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

Gone Wiith the Wind was regarded as money in the bank. That's why every actress in Hollywood wanted to play Scarlett. Scarlett was a female version of a Magnificent Bastard (Magnificent Bitch) at a time when antiheroes were rare, and takeoffs from Becky Sharp even rarer.

However I disagree that the movie avoided the excesses of Birth of a Nation. Birth of a Nation had a sexually charged Yankee villain (Thaddeus Stevens and his mistress,) monstrous blacks attempting to rape the heroine and the Klan riding to the rescue. Gone With the Wind had them all too. The lies peddled by Gone With the Wind were popular to the point of conventional wisdom but nonetheless they were lies. And people were lynched by villains who believed the crap peddled by this movie.
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Old October 29 2012, 11:56 AM   #3
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

I think A BIRTH OF A NATION is better, partially because it is the first major American full-length silent film and it gives us major storytelling across the board. I could do without the crocodile tears for Abraham Lincoln's death from the film's Southern characters, and the Ku Klux Klan emphasis didn't prevent Woodrow Wilson from enjoying it. Bottom line, the film is too importantly historic to ignore.

I also have GWTW in my collection as it is also historic...yet oddly I find it even more offensive and less worthy than NATION. It too is nauseatingly pro-South, but it also elects to push the soap opera aspects in front and sidestep the racial injustices. Worst of all, based on the book or not, the most villainous individual just has to be the Yankee soldier. To me, that's most offensive of all. Too many Westerns used Yankee as a slur after this film. So I still enjoy ignoring FWTW, mostly.
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Old October 29 2012, 12:18 PM   #4
the G-man
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

For some reason, a lot of US women, and apparently most US women over 50, love this film. I don't know why.
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Old October 29 2012, 12:27 PM   #5
Kirkman1987
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

stj wrote: View Post
Gone Wiith the Wind was regarded as money in the bank. That's why every actress in Hollywood wanted to play Scarlett. Scarlett was a female version of a Magnificent Bastard (Magnificent Bitch) at a time when antiheroes were rare, and takeoffs from Becky Sharp even rarer.

However I disagree that the movie avoided the excesses of Birth of a Nation. Birth of a Nation had a sexually charged Yankee villain (Thaddeus Stevens and his mistress,) monstrous blacks attempting to rape the heroine and the Klan riding to the rescue. Gone With the Wind had them all too. The lies peddled by Gone With the Wind were popular to the point of conventional wisdom but nonetheless they were lies. And people were lynched by villains who believed the crap peddled by this movie.
I agree that all the same touchy issues are there , but race is not as exploited as heavily as it is in birth (there is nothing in GWTW that even approaches the black legislature scene from Birth, and race is basically the focus of the entire second half of Birth). The Klan is mentioned indirectly in one scene (the men are going to "a political meeting").

GWTW's racial issues are more in line with Disney's Song of the South, where the main crime isn't a negative portrayal of blacks, but that both films try to avoid the slavery issue in general, having their black characters as more "part of the family" than slaves. I think its this unspoken truth that bothers people a lot more than a few spoken references to "darkies" or stuff like that.

Foxhot- I think pretty highly of Birth of a Nation as well (artistically speaking). The Lincoln assassination scene is a very grand and interesting recreation of the murder. Inaccurate and racist, the second half is nonetheless exciting and innovative. As a film history buff and someone who studied history and politics in college, I find the film indispensable. When I was doing teacher assistant duties, I loved using that film for a learning tool and discussion.

Last edited by Kirkman1987; October 29 2012 at 12:38 PM.
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Old October 29 2012, 04:38 PM   #6
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

The Invisible Kirkman wrote: View Post
GWTW's racial issues are more in line with Disney's Song of the South, where the main crime isn't a negative portrayal of blacks, but that both films try to avoid the slavery issue in general, having their black characters as more "part of the family" than slaves. I think its this unspoken truth that bothers people a lot more than a few spoken references to "darkies" or stuff like that.
GWTW still has an anti-Reconstruction slant, unlike Song, though it's considerably downplayed from the book (the book is way, way more racist than the movie).
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Old October 29 2012, 05:08 PM   #7
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

The only thing I like about GWTW is that Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American actress to receive an
Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress).
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Old October 29 2012, 08:59 PM   #8
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

Until Poitier won in the 60s, McDaniel was the only black winner in the acting categories. And on the night she won she had been seated way in the back so as not to offend her noble. artistic Caucasian Hollywood peers. A sad sign of the times, but still sickening.
I have to wonder: had the Academy Awards existed in 1915, would they have lavished as many Oscars on it as they did for WIND? I'm not a romantic, so I feel THE WIZARD OF OZ and MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON are VASTLY superior to WIND. OZ should've won Best Picture that year and Frank Capra Best Director. But, for 1915, how can you NOT give NATION Best Pic? It wins hands down, rightly and wrongly. It's hard to see what could compete with it for that year.
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Old October 29 2012, 09:43 PM   #9
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

It's an over-long movie that views the south under slavery as something to long for, and the free south under reconstruction something to hate. It's hard to ignore the racism in the fundamental premise.

Having said that, Rhett Butler is an iconic character who (along with Bogie in Casablanca) has served as the model for cinematic rogues for nearly a century. The film has also sold more tickets at the box office than any other movie. I may despise it, but historically, it's a movie that cannot be ignored.
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Old October 29 2012, 09:57 PM   #10
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

Fascinating
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Old October 29 2012, 10:53 PM   #11
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

I prefer Colin Mochrie's interpretation, personally.



(it starts at about 0:56)
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Old October 30 2012, 12:27 AM   #12
stj
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

I just finished reading Edmund Wilson's Patriotic Gore. This man found the most praiseworthy thing about Albion Tourgee's A Fool's Errand was praise for the South. That is, the white South. It appears that profound critics didn't regard the slaves and freedmen as part of the South. And he disliked John W. DeForest because he didn't actually respect the Southrons. He even managed to mention the novel Gone With the Wind without breaking bad about it. He dismissed Carl Sandburg's Lincoln biography with the wonderful sneer that Sandburg was the worst thing that happened to Lincoln since Booth.

Now if a hoity toity literary critic writing for The Nation could feel like that years after the movie, I think it very probable that, no matter what people said, the historical romancification of the slaver South was a considerable part of the movie's appeal. Particularly since it Commies were so big a part of the anti-racist movement in the Thirties.
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Old October 30 2012, 03:10 AM   #13
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

What do I think of it? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.
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Old October 30 2012, 06:26 AM   #14
Vanyel
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

I love it, my favorite movie of all time. Every movie is a product of it's time, and should be reviewed and judged as such.

In the 1930's the attitudes and view of blacks was what was shown in the film. The worst character in the movie was not the renegade Union Soldier, but the two men from the Shanty town. And ironically Scarlett is saved by Big Sam, a former slave at Terra. Who is then saved by the main cast from the Union Army who would have put him to death. Racism was prevalent among the North and South.

And tell the truth, were she black or white, Prissy really did reserved to be slapped. Even Butterfly McQueen admitted that.
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Old October 30 2012, 09:03 AM   #15
scotpens
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Re: Gone With The Wind- What do you think of it?

The Invisible Kirkman wrote: View Post

GWTW's racial issues are more in line with Disney's Song of the South, where the main crime isn't a negative portrayal of blacks, but that both films try to avoid the slavery issue in general, having their black characters as more "part of the family" than slaves. I think its this unspoken truth that bothers people a lot more than a few spoken references to "darkies" or stuff like that.
Song of the South avoids the slavery issue because there are NO SLAVES in it. It takes place during Reconstruction, after slavery had been abolished.

As for GWTW, I've always liked it, soap-opera trimmings and all. Take away the Civil War backdrop and what have you got? The story of a bitch and a bastard.

I have a lot of admiration for that film's technical achievements, especially the extensive use of matte paintings to create dozens of locations that never existed in reality. And there's that magnificent Max Steiner score.
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