Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Gone With the Wind (1939)

Gone with the wind
Starring Clark Gable & Vivien Leigh

Rating 6/10

You can talk about the length of film, the drama, the shrill voices, the war but what is the true essence of this epic film? First you have to watch it through the eyes of an 1930’s citizen. It just looks tacky and over the top if you view it critically through modern eyes.

This is a love story. It could be classed as a lust story as, in the end, Scarlett realises that her love for Ashley was superficial at best. The war provides a backdrop to the real battle of the heart and mind in Scarlett herself. She is a firey so-and-so, who follows the whims of her heart through any means possible. She is a perfect match for the “cad” Rhett Butler who spends his time and money with prostitutes and in gambling dens. His heart reluctantly belongs to Miss Scarlett who denies him her heart until the end when she finally gives in to his charms.

This is a character driven epic. Interestingly, the women feature as the heroes and many of the men as weak (Ashley) and easily swayed by the flapping eyelids of a certain brunette. Scarlett is difficult to like. There are moments I felt sorry for her but in the end, she is a silly, vain, selfish girl. Even having experienced the horrors of war, she comes out of it basically the same. She doesn’t really care for anyone. All she really loves are a piece of land, money and attention. It is difficult to love a film when you don’t like the main character. Rhett is a little more loveable. Perhaps because he is so handsome and charming and honest. That smile, those eyes! “Great balls of fire”!!! Melanie is good, too good. The true star of the show is Mammy, the nanny, housekeeper. She is the one who knows all and sees all. She is wisdom personified, a true mother to Scarlett.

I would have to ‘gulp’ say that I found the story so-so. It just drags on and on and on. It’s a little irritating, especially when the characters are so frustrating. There’s tragedy after tragedy and I tried so hard to put on my 1930 glasses but surely they could have cut it at 2 hours instead of 3 hours and beyond.

Production-wise, it is impressive for the time. It is so nice to watch a film in colour. It is highly stylised but I loved the use of silhouettes, colours, shadows and smoke that were used to add drama. This film is presented like a play. A melodrama? My intermission took a day, a welcome break from the depressing action, I must say. The buildings are beautiful, as are the costumes. Those amazing large, hoopy skirts and the colours and patterns, yummy. Oh and the hats and the hair and the airs!

This is a true Oscar winner. Though I’m not a huge fan of the story itself, I appreciate it as a work of art. Looking back at the first film in Oscar Club, you can see the evolution of film technology and in the light of that, this film is impressive.

Gone With the Wind Trivia:

  • Budget – are you ready? $3.9 Million
  • Vivien Leigh suffered from Bipolar disorder as well as recurrent bouts of Tuberculosis, which finally claimed her life at age 54
  • Controversy surrounded this story with the racists portrayals of African Americans and phrases used such as “darkie” and the Yankees as “the great invaders”. The African American characters were also stereotypical, appearing on the whole stupid, poor and unimportant
  • Malcolm ‘X’ apparently saw the performance of Butterfly McQueen (pathetic Prissy) and said, “when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug.”
  • For the premier in Atlanta, lucky southerners were given the day off and then charged 40 times the usual ticket price
  • Vivien Leigh was paid $25,000 for her 125 days of work, whereas Clark Gable was paid a whopping $120,000 for a mere 71 days!
  • Clark Gable almost quit because he didn’t want to cry on film
  • For more and more and more trivia go to imdb.com, there are pages and pages of the stuff!

Well what a ride, a lumpy, bumpy, muddy ride. Next week, we are watching the Hitchcock thriller, Rebecca. And I’m a little bit scared. Goodbye peaceful sleep, hello nightmares. That Hitchy sure knew how to scare!

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This entry was posted on November 30, 2010 by in Best Picture Films and tagged , , , , , .
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