‘Gone with the Wind’ – The Film Disappointed

gone with the wind

By Isabella Crane

As seen in Pegasus Pages (December 2012).

When I first picked up Gone With The Wind, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting. But whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t that it would be a book that would make me sit up, locked in my room, until four o’clock in the morning because I physically couldn’t put it down. The belles, balls, and beauty of the South had me completely hooked, and when I finally finished the last page, several sleepless nights later, the book had affected me so profoundly that I was honestly surprised that the Earth was still revolving.

You can imagine my reaction, then, when I heard of the movie, filmed in 1939. Ten Academy Awards, earned more than any other film previously in history, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, the classic film of the 1930s, blah, blah, blah. It’s bound to be good, right?

Wrong.

After scanning the aisles of Blockbusters at HMV with little success, I eventually resorted to buying it on iTunes (yes, all 6 pounds and 99 pence of it), and waited impatiently for it to load. I then sat through about ten minutes of staring at fancy scripture lettering saying ‘Overture’ and listening to some dreamy background music. By this point, I was beginning to wonder whether I would have been better off spending my gift card on Kanye’s latest hit single instead.

When the movie finally started, I was annoyed to find that Scarlett was played as an extraordinarily frivolous character. Okay, yes, she’s bit of a madam, but the Scarlett that Margaret Mitchell wrote of was a much more complex character, with heart and soul. This? This was just a silly, stereotypical, bubble-gum pink girl whose most pressing thoughts were ponies and hair-ribbons. Okay, I reminded myself: it’s only the beginning. Scarlett’s a bit naïve at the start; it’ll get better.

Again, wrong.

In fact, it only got worse. Through all her troubles and strife, through all of her heart-rending miseries, you can see Scarlett’s heart slowly hardening as she builds up a wall of anger to protect herself from all the hurt and pain that it is exposed to. She has nobody to turn to, and lashes out in anger. In the movie? All you see is Scarlett landing a few slaps on various members of her family, and you think, wow, what a loser.

I wanted to scream.

Another thing that bugged me incessantly was the time scale. I completely understand that to try and condense Gone With The Wind’s epic dimensions into a single movie is an enormous task for any director. But come on. The time lapse between Ashley leaving for war and coming back for Christmas is literally about two minutes. There’s none of the agonising wonder over whether he’s alright; the tears, sweat and pain; the irritating remarks of Ms Pitty Pat; the letters from home, etc. All of that is completely lost, and so, when Ashley does finally return, there’s really not much joy. It’s just kind of a nonchalent: Cool, man. Welcome back.

Because of this, the movie really failed to move me at all. On the few occasions when I have asked people what they thought of the movie, they’ve replied with something like: “Oh yeah, that was so cute!” Does nobody else see a problem with this? Margaret Mitchell wrote a masterpiece, and the movie turns it into ‘cute’? Gone With The Wind is not a ‘chick flick,’ and to anybody who thinks that it is, I will be glad to escort you to the nearest WH Smith and buy you a copy of the book myself.

Photo: Theatrical pre-release poster; source.

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