There’s a joke, I’m not sure to whom it’s accredited, that says if Gone With the Wind was released today, it would be two films. The sheer length of Gone With the Wind is a bit daunting, and certainly today it’s not as revered as some of the films it triumphed over for the Oscar, but Gone With the Wind is still something special.
It’s based on the novel of the same name which tells the story of Scarlet O’Hara a brash and sometimes reprehensible heroine who experiences a great deal during the American Civil War. Gone With the Wind is a film firmly rooted in that of its heroine Scarlet, and Vivien Leigh tasked with anchoring this monstrosity of a film has quite a task on her hand. There are so many things that Leigh overcomes that her Oscar win is more than deserved. Not only is she in the majority of scenes, she’s not even American, it’s one of her earliest roles and the character isn’t exactly a burst of fresh air. But it’s the sort of role that when done well is excellent, and Viven sure is excellent.
I’ve never really gotten why this has become notorious as a love story, and I still don’t really see Clark Gable as the lead actor. Granted, I’m no big fan of his. But Gone With the Wind is neither a love story, not a civil war story. It’s a story about coping when you find your life is in shambles. It is completely Scarlet’s story and everyone else is just a supporting character. And for the most part they’re good. Of course Olivia De’Havilland and Hattie McDaniel are worthy of praise, and Clark Gable is good. But I can’t love him completely because I always 1prefer the first half of Gone with the Wind to the second. It’s almost like two different films. The bright and loud first section with all those group scenes and the second bleaker section with the war etc. of course, it’s all good anyway you look at it.