Friday, August 27, 2010

1939: Gone with the Wind

I think the best word to describe this film is "epic."  The first film in color to win best picture, the longest film ever to win best picture, and one of the most famous love stories ever told: this film has a lot to recommend it.  And, for the most part, it deserves all the praise it has been given.

Yes, it is painfully long, but it is never boring.  Considering that the book has over 1,000 pages, the film would have to be much longer to include everything.  Obviously, they had to cut things out.  While it might be annoying to a fan of the book that Scarlett only has one child instead of three, or that some of the minor characters are eliminated, I think that the filmmakers did a surprisingly good job of including the important parts without losing the heart of the story.

And what a story it is.  War, reconstruction, love, hate, spite, jealousy, forgiveness, tragedy, adventure, and more; this story has it all.  Not to mention the incredibly well-developed characters, who are also spectacularly cast.  Clark Gable is Rhett Butler.  Olivia de Havilland is Melanie Hamilton Wilkes.  And while I think other people could have played Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler, Vivien Leigh did an outstanding job, especially with all the onscreen crying, which very few actors can do convincingly.

But this film has more than just an amazing story.  The special effects, while lame by today's standards, must have wowed audiences in 1939.  The sets and costumes are spectacular, in dazzling Technicolor.  I love this movie, and if it wasn't so long I would watch it much more often.

Next up: Rebecca

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