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Gone with the Wind (1939)


Gone with the Wind is a 238-minute epic story of the old south. It is available on HBO Max through TCM and includes a pre-roll disclaimer. The film is a celebration of the pre-civil war south and is problematic, the pre-roll helps put the film into context. Throughout the film after major gaps in time, there is text on the screen describing what is happening. I found these text scrolls to be the most problematic part of the film. They are so blatant in their condemnation of the North imposing its will over the South. By contrast, the ‘happy slave’ portrayal felt less shocking.

This film is a classic and despite being out of step with America today it still deserves recognition. Hattie McDaniel won the best-supporting actress for her portrayal of Mammy. She was the first black actress to be nominated and to win an Oscar. Despite winning the Oscar there is more to the story of her night to put just how segregated the world was in 1940. The film picked up seven more Oscar wins.

I committed an afternoon to watch this film. There are plenty of places to take breaks and keep your interest fresh. The acting is solid all-around only bordering on overacting in a few places. Vivien Leigh plays Scarlett, the central figure of the film. She is a horrible human being; it is easy to dislike her and her view of the South. Clark Gable plays Rhett Butler, the most likable character. There is no question where his loyalty and intentions lie. The on-screen chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett feels believable.

This film set a high bar for what a film could be. Epic is the only word that can describe it. There is no way to get around how long it is, but it holds your interest all the way through. The subject matter and portrayal is problematic, yes, but the film’s impact on the industry can’t be understated. Hattie McDaniel’s performance, always being two steps ahead of Scarlett, was so good that it broke the color barrier. You can see how no expense was spared in the making of this movie. It is worth a watch if you have never seen it and the TCM pre-roll lead-in is a great way to couch it in history.

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