#152: Gone With the Wind (1939)

When and how did I watch this?

January 18th and 19th, 2016, on DVD.

Had I seen this film already?

Nope.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

This is one of my wife’s favorites, and at one time she explained the entire plot to me.  I was surprised I paid attention/listened, because it was long, and I was probably playing video games or something.  I knew this would be a lengthy one and planned accordingly. I also knew the movie routed the Oscars, and remains the highest grossing film in theaters of all time (adjusted for inflation).

What do I know about it now?

It’s hard to encapsulate such a vast movie.  It moves along like a good book (and I believe it IS, once again, based on a novel), quickly developing characters and moving from scene to scene, having these characters interact with one another, mostly Miss O’Hara making a mess of things.  As expected from this time period, every character is convincing due to extraordinary “stage” presence — I caught one minor character somewhat overacting, but everyone else was fleshed out brilliantly.  The writing is spectacular, which probably goes without saying.  Some of the scenes were truly breathtaking — who can forget the scores of Confederate troops laid out in the middle of the Atlanta plaza, the gripping escape from the city’s consuming flames and Union pursuers, the tense sequence where Scarlett, in a random stroke of bravery, shoots the Union soldier in the face, and the iconic final few minutes of the film? Scarlett frustrated me, Melanie made me believe in humanity, and I wanted to be best friends with Mr. Butler, a fine man who ran out of second chances.

What are some themes in the film?

Courtship, propriety, war, loyalty, marriage/family, slavery/servants, love and hospitality, perseverance, betrayal, infidelity.

Did this affect me personally?

It was nice finally getting to see this landmark film.  I described a few scenes already.  One other was the second horse-riding accident — a huge ouch on different levels.

Why is this ranked #152?

The posterity of this film is kind of uncanny.  It is obviously the better of the two films between its rival of the same year, The Wizard of Ozand the hopelessly narcissistic Scarlett and resilient Rhett are two of the most memorable screen characters of all time. While it’s not a personal favorite of mine, I believe the voters blew it on this one.  It’s a huge film, and that’s likely why it’s not higher.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She sat next to me and watched both halves without moving.  Again, it’s one of her favorites.

Would I watch it again?

Sure.  It’s certainly not a waste of time.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes. Many of my life-experienced friends have seen it, but it would be to my generation’s great benefit to enjoy this one and to see what a quality film really looks like.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

AFI has this one at #6.  It’s one of the greatest, and clearly the most underrated film on the list so far.

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