film review

Review | Gone With the Wind – 1939

I had two very pleasant afternoons last weekend with two amazing classics. The review of the first film I saw is already online and now it is time for the film I watched last Sunday: The four-hour-long film Gone With the Wind.

Gone With the Wind is set in the 19th century and follows the life of Southern girl Scarlett, daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. She’s very strong-minded, but also a bit manipulative and flirts with all the guys. She’s in love with Ashley, but he’s about to get married with Melanie so Scarlett decides to make Ashley jealous by marrying Charles Hamilton, Melanie’s brother. When the American Civil War breaks out, the men go fight against the ‘Yankees’. Scarlett and Melanie stay behind to look out for each other, but as soon as Ashley is home Scarlett takes the opportunity and tries to snoop Ashley away from her. When the war is over Scarlett and the other Southers people most rebuild their town. The war has changed Scarlett, she never wants to be poor or hungry again so she works very hard. In the meantime Scarlett re-marries again and after the death of her second husband she marries Rhett Butler. They are a terrible couple but they do love each other, however it took Scarlett too long to figure that out. gone-with-the-wind-2This is a very short summary, but let me just say that Gone With the Wind is an amazing historical, romantic drama film. The film is an adaptation from Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning novel from 1936. At the 12th Academy Awards – held in 1940 – the film received ten Oscars: eight competitive and two honorary. Including wins for Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, who became the first African-American to win an Academy Award), Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Adapted Screenplay (Sidney Howard) and  Best Picture. Gone With the Wind set a record for the total number of wins and nominations at the time. The film was immensely popular and becoming the highest-earning film made up to that point, and retained the record for over a quarter of a century. The film is still the most successful film in box-office history. So I definitely saw a very successful film! Besides the success at the Oscars, the film has an epic story regarding the American history.

The leading roles are portrayed by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett), Clark Gable (Rhett), Leslie Howard (Ashley), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie). But the casting process was very long, only the search for Scarlett led to interviews with 1,400 women! Vivien Leigh got the part and even won an Oscar for Best Actress. Just like I had with Singin’ in the Rain, I feel like back in the days the actors worked so much better with their facial expressions. Leigh has an amazing eyebrow and uses it a lot, while frowning to almost everyone! It is a pleasure to see how her life unfolds, but at some point I didn’t really liked the film. Scarlett did made some strange life choices but she had a lot to endure. It was sad it took her so long to realize that she never even loved Ashley, that she was in love with an image of the two being together. Clark Gable also did an amazing job as Rhett Butler. He was charismatic but also very mysterious. He loved Scarlett for everything she is, but enough is enough. And after all the drama in their life he chooses for himself. Melanie is just such a sweet girl with a very big heart and she truly loved Scarlett. Olivia Havilland portrayed her very well, I really liked the connection between her and Scarlett. An other actress I really enjoyed was Hattie McDaniel who played Mammy, Scarlett’s maid. She was really funny with some of her comments. Gone-with-the-WindThe setting was very lovely, of course with the techniques these days we are very spoiled. Nevertheless the houses, clothes and landscapes were all very beautiful. I would love to see me wearing a dress like Scarlett wears. Besides the setting the music was amazing. It’s a shame we don’t hear that kind of film music anymore. Music with a complete orchestra are most of the times replaced by eletric music or pop. Hans Zimmer’s score for the Pirate films come very close, but at the same time it’s so very different. There’s no singing in the background just strings which follows the emotional and dramatic line very well. So my compliments to  the composer Max Steiner. The film takes almost four hours, so it’s a very long sit! However, it didn’t really felt like it was that long since the story and characters were all very interesting and fascinating. But I don’t think I will be seeing this film again any time soon. It is really dramatic at some points and to see what a young woman has to endure, it’s a lot. Sure, the film offers some clichés, but those are often broken. Scarlett marries three times, loses a child, has a miscarriage, loses her best friend and in the end she ends up alone. So yeah it’s pretty dramatic, but she does have her plantation. After the ending I was like: “I feel a sequel coming!” It’s an open end really, because you see how Scarlett has the plan to go back to her old house. I really want to find out how Scarlett manages her life now and if she has build-up the plantation. Guess we’ll never know.

Gone With the Wind is a historical romance full of drama and with an amazing score. The film was an amazing success with eight Oscars and is still the most successful film in box-office history. Vivien Leigh played the role of the strong-minded Scarlett very well, who had to endure a lot of drama in her life. The most funny comments came from Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable, who played the mysterious Rhett Butler. Sometimes I just didn’t expect to hear such lines in a film from 1939. Those were lines you could here in a modern film aswell.  It sure is a long film, so I don’t think everyone would enjoy it as much as I did, but I truly recommend it since Gone With the Wind is an epic classic!

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5 thoughts on “Review | Gone With the Wind – 1939

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