29 November 2007

7 went with the wind


at thanksgiving, my adolescent cousin, berto, was stretched out languorously on the couch pontificating on bad movies. an inconvenient truth was terrible, because my god who can stand an hour and a half of al gore.

the only film he thought worse?

gone with the wind.

it was all i could do not to leap up and begin railing on about the glories of william cameron menzie’s production, set design, and cutting-edge special effects; the unwavering vision of david o. selznick despite an embarrassing reliance upon his father-in-law for funding; the extraordinary drama of max steiner’s ground-breaking score; the sheer wonder that gone with the wind was ever filmed— much less filmed and post-produced in the nine months that it was— given that there were three directors, two nervous breakdowns, and no real script.

gone with the wind is the greatest movie ever made in the history of any and all film-making in the whole wide world and any solar systems, known or unknown, beyond.

there is none better. don’t anyone argue with me on this.

gwtw is the first movie i remember seeing. it was playing on tv one night as my parents and grandparents hung out in the living room of our house in balmoral. it was at least twelve hours long then and of those twelve hours, the only part that i vividly recall is the scene between scarlett and gerald after the death of ellen o’hara. i thought ellen had been poisoned by gerald’s moonshine and that, in the aftermath of her death, he developed a morbid interest in women’s jewelry. as it turns out, i got every single possible detail of that scene wrong, but it stuck with me.

because i was an only child and an embarrassingly cool kid— probably a wee bit more embarrassing than cool— at 8, i was obsessed with the making of a legend: gone with the wind, a life-changing documentary an hour shy of being as long as gone with the wind itself. i immediately memorized passages and staged bedroom metadramas—playing vivien leigh playing scarlett o’hara in a period costume fashioned from my mum’s burgundy silk nightgown, a mound of safety pins and a hula-hoop. definitely more embarrassing than cool.

i was a na├»ve kid and there was no titanic yet, so gwtw struck me as the most romantic story ever and i thought scarlett o’hara was the ballsiest woman in the world. she appeared at a dance as a widow, she loved another woman’s husband, and she wore feathers and sequins at the other woman’s home after being caught publicly embracing the other woman’s husband in a lumber mill. this seemed the absolute apotheosis of grown-up living. i thought scarlett was what women were supposed to be.

but as an adult, gwtw is an entirely different experience. now i realize that this is not the most romantic story ever told. it is, in fact, a tale peopled by the most complicated communicators in recorded human history. it’s grey gardens plus corsets and minus the cat piss. a vicious spectacle of miscommunication, missed signals, and regrets. throughout the film, every single character is trapped in what might have been and what could maybe still come to be. had any one person ever said what they were actually feeling at any single point, they could’ve all lived long, happy lives in a considerably shorter film. but no.

scarlett married a series of men she didn’t love to get back at ashley wilkes, who didn’t love her and couldn’t have cared less if she married men she didn’t love and whom, it turns out, she probably never really loved anyway though she always thought she did.

rhett butler married scarlett, whom he knew pretty much didn’t love him, because he loved her though he thought she loved ashley wilkes because she thought she did too.

melanie wilkes— being the most insipid character ever to grace american literature— never noticed that scarlett was madly in love with her husband and, therefore, never confronted scarlett for being a bitch, but instead harbored an inexplicable borderline lesbian affection for her.

ashley wilkes—the only character whose insipidity could effectively challenge melanie’s— never confessed to scarlett that he truly loved melanie (though heaven only knows why).

and scarlett never told rhett that she had come to really loved him because she was too flakey to realize this until the last three minutes of the final reel, at which point, as we all know, he frankly didn’t give a damn.

thus, in a 258-minute film, none of the characters ever says any of the things they should.

and this is why gone with the wind is great. precisely because it is a horrifying mess. a 4.3 hour public service spot on the vital importance of proper communication served up as an epic, sprawling, southern hell in fancy dress. they just don’t make them like that anymore.

gone with the wind is the greatest movie ever made in the history of any and all film-making in the whole wide world and any solar systems, known or unknown, beyond.

there is none better. don’t anyone argue with me on this.

and i'd like eight years of al gore, if you please.

7 comments:

Clark MF Price said...

So like...I still have that GWTW tie. I still don't get enough reasons to pull that bad boy out and rock people's worlds. When I do though. Women swoon.

oline said...

oh my god, i forgot you were the benefactor of my father's post-retirement tie give-away. more importantly, i forgot that particular tie was out there, still rocking people's worlds.

Linda said...

Oline, you were there the only time I ever "watched" GWTW. We were in middle school, at your house, and you fast forwarded through most of it to your favorite scenes.

oline said...

i was afraid you'd remember that.

Meggie said...

Caro, you were also my only GWTW viewing. I was house-sitting for my neighbors and you brought it over for us to watch... Unfortuantely, I don't think you fast-forwarded through any bits.

oline said...

wow. that i do not remember.

am quite the GWTW slut, aren't i?

Clark MF Price said...

Tell your father that I said thank you, for bestowing that gift upon. At the time I didn't grasp the splendiferousness of it, but I sure do now.