I saw it once in the glorious Eglinton Theater,Toronto, Canada, in its full 70mm screen, it was a re-distribution at one of its anniversaries. Since then, and before, I have watched it many, many times, even the annual re-broadcast on TV during New Year.
Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) was perfectly cast and so was Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). What drawn me to this film is the resilience of Scarlett; she just doesn’t give up in love, in work, in everything! and that you fall-down, you get-up attitude is so contagious “God is my witness…I will never be hungry again…” or when she says,”Tomorrow is another day….”, she is not procrastinating, but merely pausing to have it,or whatever, dealt with later! We all should use such a moment in our hectic life to avoid rushed decisions.
This moive was released in 1939, the grandeur without special effects of today’s era is just breathe-taking. Remember the scene that they show the wounded at the makeshift hospital at the railroad station? how the director shows the panoramic view of the devastation and the toll on its soldiers. Another gasping for air moment is when Scarlett walks into Melaine’s birthday in that ruby-red gown (shown above), head held high to overcompensate her guilt. We all experienced that moment when we made a boo boo, and had to step up to the plate head held high, didn’t we?
Melanie Hamilton (Olivia d’Havilland) is a total contrast to Scarlett, loving, considerate, sacrificing, forgiving,… likens Mother Theresa. Despite, Scarlett’s forever indulging fantasy of her love to Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), her husband, she sees her as her sister! Desperate Housewives of whichever city, you should take notes! The best played scene is when she has to play Oprah for both Rhett and Scarlett, after Scarlett had her miscarriage.
The funniest scene is when Melanie is about to deliver and Scarlett asks Prissy ( Butterfly McQueen) to fetch her the doctor. She tells Scarlett she knows everything about delivery and later changes her tune when Melanie is about to deliver, “… I know nothing about babies, Miss Scarlett ….”
“Ashley, I love you!”. Slapped. I don’t know what Scarlett sees in him? perhaps, the complete opposite of who she is? Shall we say opposite attracts? or it could be a crush growing up as neighbours. We have to give that to Scarlett for her enigmatic loyalty to her phantom lover. I guess that’s an important point in the story, sometime we just don’t know the thing we want or don’t want (Ashley), or that he/she is right in-front of us all the time (Rhett), and we blindly don’t want to notice it. Our desire is indeed out-of-sync most time.
“..don’t leave me Rhett…”.”Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”, and I think he means it! Rhett is smart, charming, macho, he takes no bullshit either, is righteous, he knows what he wants, so basically a male version of Scarlett. Hence, the tug-of-war plays out so well between the two. Essentially, they disagree agree. They tease (Scarlett pretends she doesn’t know how to wear a hat), they lust (Rhett grabbing Scarlett on that gorgeous staircase, lifting and holding her to their bedroom while Scarlett fighting all the way), they love ( Rhett teases her with a kiss and she begs for more), they hate(Bonnie dies riding a horse), they part (Door opens, foggy and misty, he disappears).
Although 238 mins (IMDb), every second is worth it.
P.S. Carol Burnett made a parody skit in her Caroll Burnett show, find it in youtube. It’s funny! Never watched Scarlett (1994 TV), nor read the book.