Reviewed by: Lynne Dyer
Starring: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford, George Reeves / Director: George Cukor, Victor Fleming, Sam Wood / Released by: MGM/New Line Cinema
Having already endured almost sixty years of changes in Hollywood movie styles, “Gone with the Wind” is likely to last another decade or two. Descriptions like “epic” and “classic” are the only way to describe this re-release of the 1939 original. This movie still thrills us with its photography, special effects, and heartbreaking story.
Set during the Civil War in Atlanta and the surrounding South, the film actually begins just prior to the war. The lifestyle of white southerners is depicted as genteel and lush. All attention is focused on Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), a spoiled, selfish debutante. Throughout the film, we follow her as she steals heart after heart, but never satisfies her own quest for true love. Scarlett assumes that only Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) can satisfy her quest, but alas, he is in love with his wife Melanie (Olivia de Havilland). Not until it seems to be too late does Scarlett realize that her own husband, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) fulfills her need for love. Scarlett never gives up, though, because “tomorrow is another day…”
The basic plot sounds simple, but the script is actually quite complex. We glimpse war, loyalty, honor, betrayal, prejudice, birth and death. It is amazing how much is packed into this three hour film.
While God is rarely addressed directly, there is nothing anti-Christian in the movie. In fact, the character of Melanie is quite Christ-like in her selfless living and gentle nature. The movie does, of course, contain one now infamous bit of profanity, some drunkeness, and references to adultery. Most troublesome, however, is the film’s depiction (or rather lack of depiction) of slavery as it truly was. This film is not a lesson in accurate history! Despite the lack of historical accuracy, this movie is appropriate for any audience that can sit through the duration.