Thursday, January 19, 2006

Gone With the Wind

1939
Selznick International Pictures
Director: Victor Fleming
Length: 238 min.
Format: DVD
Date Viewed: 17 January

I must admit something. I love melodramas. A lot. For the past couple of years, my love for them has grown. Had I known that Gone With the Wind was a melodrama, I would not have waited so long to see it. Its four hour runtime is daunting, but well worth it for anyone who likes a good melodrama or epic romances. On the flip side, anyone who doesn't like these should stay as far away as possible. For those of us in the former category, this is a rich and gorgeous film that gives us outstanding performances by Leigh (although admittedly she is like nails on a chalkboard in her early scenes, she more than overcomes this after the first thirty minutes or so), Gable and de Havilland, a witty and well-structured script, beautiful three-strip Technicolor photography and excellent production design. Unfortunately, there are a few dark factors found in the film. It is quite racist and has a strange nostalgia for the Old South, fondly recalling the days of slavery (explicitly, too, in the opening titles). Further, a rape occurs between two of the leads, and the result is shocking and abhorrent. The victim apparently loved it - check out her smile at breakfast in the morning. Are we to infer that she changed her mind once she was taken upstairs or that the director/writer are under the impression it was what she needed/wanted?. This shamefully misogynistic scene is a major problem in the script, and one I can't excuse. Aside from this, Gone With the Wind is still a very good film, and though it is generally overrated (it's not one of the best films ever made), it does deserve its status as a classic.

2 Comments:

Anonymous mike said...

Hey, let's judge historical periods by standards of the present! For a movie made depicting plantation life in the Old South made in 1939, its attitudes toward black people are quite progressive. Misogynism is bad! Movies with misogynism (no matter the context) are therefore bad!

09 July, 2006 01:58  
Blogger Kyle Smith said...

Whoa, whoa, I never said the film is bad. In fact, I state clearly that the film is a classic, and a very good one at that. I do have a problem with the misogyny and the racism (I wouldn't call it progressive, though, even for 1939 - a standard handling at best). By juding the rape scene in 2006, do you infer, then, that it was acceptable in 1939? I would beg to differ.

10 July, 2006 00:27  

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