Quick-Thoughts: Gone With the Wind (1939)

Screened at Harkins

This is by far the most beautifully shot waste of time I’ve ever seen.

Gone with the Wind is one of the best looking movies from the classic Hollywood era. From the dramatic lighting, the harsh autumn-spirited color palette, and even the character placement of the talent or the often shadowed objects that frame them, the composition and blocking here is just full of personality and consistently sharp with its groundbreaking intricacies! I mean, the final shot before the intermission I’ve actually seen numerous times prior to this viewing, and even out of context I’ve always considered it to be maybe my favorite shot of all-time strictly when it comes to how it makes me emotionally feel from visuals alone.

When it comes to the story of Gone with the Wind from mainly a script-perspective though, it’s very easy to debate this movie as being a prime case of something that at one point may have been registered as unusually profound and poignant for its early-staged artform, but from the eyes of today it does seem considerably tame when put next to the amount of inspired media that proceeded its over 80-year-old release. Notably, the main romance here is so dated to me in the case of it being maybe one of cinema’s first but very, very basic attempts at having cynicism tell a romantic reality. I beg of critics if they should preserve their love for this movie to retract their slanders of what something such as The Notebook (2004) or Twilight (2008) did when it comes to their purposely hopeless love triangles, cause I don’t think the movie’s own one is that much smarter than at least what those two “attempted” to do.

What I dislike even more about Gone with the Wind though is how there are SO MANY laughably abrupt coincidences scattered in its structuring to keep the momentum of the narrative brisk with so many new plot shifts happening in its pathetic desire of having tons of thematic and dramatic relevancy. This movie wants us to feel the tragedy of the American Civil War with its constant showcasing of death and its ambitions to paint the Reconstruction Era under elements such as its business-like marriages, but this is where I think the melodrama sort of poorly compliments the violent and ego-driven tragedies of the movie. The film is encompassed in a lot of extroverted-driven cheese and performance that it almost sometimes seems indecisive between what it wants us to genuinely take in earnestly with the meanings behind its story and what it wants to enthrall the general audience with conventionally — ex: that abominably out of place and Hollywood-esc action sequence. This movie is also relying on an era where dialogue was often excessively used to describe either the plot or how a character felt in the moment given its limitations on facial or visual evolutions. The comedy in Gone with the Wind is obnoxiously predictable too with about 90% of it relying on playful teasing and sass going on between characters that are usually just jokes based off of their stereotyped personality quirks, and with four hours of that being the heart of the humor, it can get old real fast, and again, feel out of place in presence of the serious tale it wants to impress us with. All of this to me screams as inferior and convoluted screenwriting with its attempts at humanity when put next to movies with more sincere performances or believable MacGuffins and more logically proceeding plot points. 

I’m a big believer that very flawed characters are what make movies interesting. Not only do I see real historical or current people in them, but I see myself in many of them, and I’d actually go as far as to say I guiltily very much saw myself in this film’s controversial main character Scarlett O’Hara. There are pretty interesting concepts going on with what her horridly spoiled yet initiative-filled personality and actions lead her to that were overshadowed by the glut of what was attempting to be said around her own arc given how left-field or unnecessary they often appeared as. Gone with the Wind is one of those movies that I think has been loved for so long because it takes people on this long, long journey of common (especially for the time period) trials in somebody’s life — the real by-the-book ones as well which are purposely formulated in this rich-people-designed image to make the audience’s own relatabilities seem elevated — hence its high praised labeling as an “epic”, but when that “epic” is quite principal with what its turning points entail that furthermore are written carelessly to its continuity, it doesn’t personally wow nor convince me of this world in any way, or moreover, why I should care for it in the first place. Even the famous resolution of its tale is so rushed with how it’s integrated into the plot, slapping on a final emphasis of its impending message that I couldn’t take even the silver linings of the moment’s purpose seriously. 

Personally, I don’t interpret the ending as Scarlett finally realizing who she truly loves, but rather the audience learning that no matter the treacherous, even death-relating obstacles she faces through her life, she will always be that selfish person who will resort to caring for the things she always had but only once they become necessary or expired. Yet, my honest answer to if I care enough for this respectable messaging going on with her journey amidst the movie’s sloppy execution is…

“Frankly my dear, I dont give a damn.” 

Y’all knew I was going to use that quote, huh? I bet that’s a usual one to come from people who write not so positive reviews of this film so I apologize. 

Verdict: C+

“Gone with the Wind” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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