no. 58 – Watch Gone with the Wind

I like lists. They make life more bearable and knowledge more organized. It is because of lists that I learned about Gone With the Wind. I think I was searching for the top-grossing films of all time or simply top films when Google gave me this in the results.

Gone With the Wind, according to my primary source Wikipedia, is a 1939 American historical epic film adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel of the same name. It was produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Victor Fleming from a screenplay by Sidney Howard. Set in the 19th-century American South, the film stars Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, and Hattie McDaniel, among others, and tells a story of the American Civil War and Reconstruction era from a white Southern point of view.

According to Box Office Mojo who ranks movies with their inflation-adjusted grosses, Gone With the Wind is still the top-grossing film of all time despite its actual gross being 200 million because that was in 1939. 200 million 60 years ago is how much today? I figured.

Let us not talk about how I acquired a copy of the film but I am glad I did because this is actually the first old western movie I saw.

The film was long. As in 3 hours and 44 minutes long plus a 15 minute intermission (it was divided into two parts). Imagine, in 1939, not everyone has their own television set. And laptops, the internet, DVDs, and Blu-Rays are only part of the imagination. Actually, those decades were considered as the Golden Age of Cinema because, well, people had no other choice but to go and see the movies. So I guess the running time was acceptable. Try making a 4 hour movie today and I am wishing you luck on your ticket sales.

I like the movie because the length became its strength. You can see the development of the characters all throughout the film. I remember what I read in the book Fahrenheit 451 that the attention span of people have become so short that even billboards have to be made miles in length so people can read what is written while driving their ultra-fast cars. Are we really going into that direction? During the first few scenes of the film I was like, this movie is soooooo slow but then I started appreciating after realizing that not too many things are happening all at the same time. There are actual conversations.

Taking about conversations, the people of the past talk differently and I like it. Plus, the women wore hats and petticoats and girdles (a waist line of 18 and a half inches is normal!) and they always look like they’re going to a party somewhere. Pants are only for males, and no denim. Everyone wore coat and leather shoes. Horse-drawn carriages were the main form of transportation. They have soirees and naps and prayer time, among other things. What would it feel like, living in another decade? I think I will be bored at first but the slow-pace of life will slowly seep through me and then I would love it more than any other kind of life.

Rhett Butler, played by Clark Gable is so handsome, not in the same way that actors today are. He is like the alpha male. Honest to the point of not being a gentleman although still a gentleman. And I find it great that he is such a loving father. His moustache and white hair completes the package. Testosterone is oozing from every part of him in just the perfect amount. Neither too much like overly-muscular-borderline-scary-and-rugged males nor too little like metrosexual-and-soft-I-am-more-beautiful-than-you men.

And then there’s Scarlett O’ Hara played by Vivien Leigh, the epitome of a gold-digger slash user. She loves Ashley but Ashley is marrying Melanie. She marries Melanie’s brother instead who unfortunately (or fortunately?) died in the war. Then, with deception, she marries her sister’s fiancee, Frank Kennedy because he owns a successful general merchandise business. Mr. Kennedy was later shot in the head on a night raid in a shantytown where Scarlett was endangered. Still, she wants Ashley. After being widowed twice, she marries Rhett Butler because he is a millionaire. He left with the famous farewell line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” because he thought she still can’t get over her childish, one-way, blind and stupid love for Ashley which she actually did, after it was too late.

Scarlett is really pretty and a free spirit and it is not a wonder why men fall head over heels for her. She’s like Summer Finn in some ways, or the inspiration of the book “Why Men Love Bitches”.

I am ambivalent towards Scarlett. She’s a bitch and she does not deserve Rhett but you cannot hide the fact that she’s been through a lot. And if you are used to a very comfortable life with men drooling at the bat of your eyelash and servants doing your every bidding, you cannot really blame her (even though she was already a brat even before the war). She’s just putting into practice the concept of self-preservation (at all costs). Besides, when pushed to their limit of suffering, there’s a tendency for people to change.

Part 1 ended with Scarlett saying that she will never be hungry again so it is but expected that she’ll use the asset she has to not experience famine, again.

Overall I enjoyed the film. Makes me want to watch more movies from this generation.

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