Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gone From My List

A Movie Review

Well I finally saw Gone With The Wind, a movie which had been perhaps the most glaring oversight in my knowldge of cinema history. Gone With The Wind truley is an important film, a landmark event of a motion picture, which when adjusted for inflation is still the most money making movie ever made, and the story of whose film makers search for its leading lady is the stuff of Hollywood legend. Of course the film has been critized, there is plenty that can be called bad in it, its romantized depiction of the antebellum south, its exhausting length, its sexual views, and the black people in this movie, let's just say not PC. That being said its a sweeping motion picture that can really carry you away with it, and a viewing experince worth having. This giant film is really two movies, the first half an epic homefront tale spaning the civil war (which going in was what I assumed the whole movie would be about), and second a sort of reconstruction era melodrama.

There is much praise to be hepped on GWTW as a technical achivment. First off the scale, it is tremendus, so big in fact that it necessitated a then rare instance of joint studio production, in this case MGM and Selznick International Pictures. The scene at the Atlanta military hosptial, with its endless expanse of wounded solders laid out across a railway yard, can not be topped with CG. The burning of the city later in the film is also mighty impressive. The lighting in the movie is also notable, overwrought and exagerted but perfect for this picture, very studio system. The silhouette sequences are now considerd signiture to this film. Finally Max Steiner's score, espically the main theme, is truly memorable.

The cast of Gone With The Wind is also a great achivement. My personal favorite performance in the film is the beautiful Olivia de Havilland as Ms. Melanie, a lady so virtuous that the young womens program can just scrap their current color coded system for teaching character, and replace it with the slogan "Be Like Ms. Melanie". Vivien Leigh's performance deservedly made her star, her characters got quite an arc to acomplish while still remaining every bit Scarlet O'Hara, or rather by the end, Scarlet O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler. Rhett Butler of course is a perfect role for the Clark Gable persona, and while I understand there where some difficultys on the set, you'd never know it from his performance. Leslie Howard is the least memorable of the lead performers in his role as Ashley Wilkes. The supporting cast also deserves mention, with Hattie McDaniel being the first black performer to win an Oscar, best supporting actress for her role as 'Mammy'. Canadian born character actor Victor Jory plays Tara's cruel overseer Jonas Wilkerson, a role that felt as though it had been largely cut for time. One of the most fascinating individuals to apper in the film is squeaky-voiced black actress Butterfly McQueen, who plays the flighty, quick to tears or boasting house servent Prissy. McQueen was a noted life-long athiest who in her 60's earned a degree in political science, and who after dying in an accident involving a kerosene lamp, left her body to science and money to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Future Superman George Reeves also has a bit part in the picture.

Gone with the Wind is one of those movies you owe it to yourself to see, it's a part of our film heritage to big to be ignored, and worthy of being rememberd.


At 9:11 AM, Blogger Bryan said...

Serious, Hattie McDaniels monologye about Rhett locking himself in the room with his daughters body after shooting the pony made me cry a little.

This movie is dynamite.


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