Saturday, July 11, 2015

Musing and Thoughts Gone With The Wind


One summer when I was about 10, my parents subscribed to the newly introduced cable HBO and the way those subscriptions use to work is they would offer a very few movie choices for the month and play those over and over back to back and over again. We were moving to Texas, and the house was on the market, and there wasn't much to do in the mid 70's summers except swim, ride bikes and watch Gone With The Wind. We did all these a lot. As a result, my sister Vivian and I could spontaneously act out and converse 99% of the scenes in the movie. 

I grew up in Alabama in the heart of The South, two antebellum plantation homes in walking distance. (Here is one down the hill from our old house). We related to Scarlet O'Hara. We took up her lines and pretended to be Scarlet. We were young and didn't understand many nuances of the movie.

Fast forward almost 40 years! And I am reviewing everything I thought I knew or remembered about GWTW. 

First, my 10 year old won't be watching it on repeat and unsupervised. It is a romance novel first, historical background second. The movie is rated G, but there are plenty of scenes and undertones that raise questions I would like to address with my daughter, when the time is right,  and not the let movie introduce such ideas. And knowing how I was influenced to think Rhett Butler type "scoundrels" if they were good looking, good hearted ones, were the type of guy I should look for in a match. Bad boy? I don't want my girls to obsess as I did. I thank God for bringing me a good and solid husband, nothing like weaselly Ashely or slick Rhett. (I'd still probably pick Rhett over Ashley).

I had not remembered the O'Hara family was Catholic. The first bit of the movie showed the family praying the Confiteor. 

I probably didn't know because Scarlett didn't live a life as someone concerned for her soul or anyone she loved.
Not that she isn't a good example for some things: A strong woman who perseveres, gets things done. She was a role model for me for putting her mind to something and accomplishing it. She might have been motivated wrongly and made many bad choices along the way, I still can't help but cheer and admire her strength. She suffered tragedies, losses and sadness and still pushed forward, yes, motivated by selfishness, but still I had hope for her at the movies' end.

How could I despise her actions but love the character? Vivian Leigh helped, she was perfect and beautiful.


Scarlett is not the perfect role model for girls. Flirting and manipulation, crying to get what she wanted from a man if charms didn't work. disregard of others feelings and lives, betraying her sisters and friends for marriages that were out of spite or financial advantage. My daughter thinks she's such a horrible person. Yes, but like us all, more complicated than actions showed.

She did make progress. A line always made me sad for Rhett:
"My darling, you're such a child. You think that by saying, "I'm sorry," all the past can be corrected."
But Rhett, we do believe in redemption through a sorrowful heart and repentance. I agree maybe it's was all too little too late, but the way Scarlett was, she put her mind to something, she'd get it, even though her life will be harder from movie's end with no allies left. 

"Frankly Scarlett, I don't give a damn."...
So what happened next? With the tragedies she just experienced: miscarriage, tragic death of their only child, good friend passes, realizes she didn't love Ashley,  and then Rhett left her after she poured her heart, most of us would be in a puddle, I had confidence Scarlett would be fine. She had grown uo. She'd return to rebuild Tara. She probably would run into Rhett after time. She wasn't going to sit on the steps and cry. Maybe better if their paths didn't cross again. Possibilities filled my imagination at ten. 

Ten reasons I am thrilled I found this on Amazon prime:

1. Melanie and Scarlett's friendship. 
Melanie is the true heroine filled with grace, beauty and all what it means to be a kind Southern lady. She could have taught Scarlett so much, especially kindness and forgiveness. I was too young to appreciate Melanie when last viewed the film. I now appreciate her heroism, especially love, her kindness, how she could melt Rhett's heart and how she treated Belle when expressing her gratitude for giving Ashley shelter when he was wounded. She deserved better.
2 Civil War coverage.
The movie doesn't tell all the why's of the war, but it shows glimpses of Southern Honor, states rights, and slavery and it was created for an audience that knew the details of the war by heart. So inspiring us further in our own Civil War summer studies. When we study a period of history I like to use a mix of biographies, autobiographies, maps, spine history collections, historical a fiction and other media. This fit in for me.
3 Costumes
Have you seen the dresses?!! Hoop dresses, corsets, hats!

4 The story of hardship and persevering spirit to keep on going.

5 Memories of The Old South that I had glimpses of and is part of our heritage, whether they remove flags, rename schools or dig up remains. 

6. Production:  a work of art.
They don't make movies like this anymore and probably never will again.

7 The musical score, http://youtu.be/pg5wCJuPdXI
I just hear a few notes and it stirs my heart.

8 The Actors
Whether you like the characters, the actors are fantastic. Real they become Scarlett, Rhett, Ashley, Melanie, Mammy. My kids could not stand Prissy's voice, which was authentic. 

9 Lessons to be learned: the good, the bad and ugly.
Ashley ... ugh. Tell me why was he desired? I guess he was to represent the Honor and gentlemanly nature of the Old South but to me, he did not live or embody it. He was weak and caved to his desire for Scarlett causing her confusion in her immature mind. He didn't rise again or live up to her hopes. 

10 Well, I'm still a girl at heart, I watched it for the love stories.

After watching again now, my favorites are Melanie and Mammy. Oh my, we all loved Mammy! Both these women had hearts of gold. I can't imagine how I ever thought positively of Ashley. I didn't remember how much he led Scarlett on. Many situations went way over my ten year old head, thankfully.  Rhett is a scoundrel, still, I love how he loved the people in his life. 

What impressions and emotions does this movie elicit as viewed from the eyes of a "Yankee" from the  North, African American heredity, or someone even totally removed from American culture? 

What are your memories and impressions of this old classic?

1 comment:

  1. This was very interesting. Thanks for a little southern education. I have lived my whole life in Minnesota. Driving down to Albert Lea (where my husband is from)(almost to Iowa) seems deep south to me! ha

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