It was the longest book I'd ever read, and I was afraid to even start it. But by the time Scarlet fell down the stairs, I was more afraid that I'd finish it. I was sitting on the striped carpet in my bedroom, with the bonnet of the hair dryer puffed up and drowning out all sound while Scarlet moaned in agony, calling silently for her true love. Rhett wept in Melanie's lap, confessing his sins, unaware of Scarlet's fevered cries. I sobbed, too, so loudly that my brother came in to see what was going on. Even he couldn't break the spell. I was caught in the story. "Tell her," I begged him. "Tell him," I begged her.
Does Gone With the Wind resonate with people nowadays, or is it too old-fashioned? I read it the summer between 8th and 9th grade. Laying on the flowered wicker couch on our screened-in porch at night, with a background of whirring mosquitoes amongst whispering trees, I was transported to Tara, where I fell in love with the visitor from Charleston.
Sher, Polly and I flipped a U-turn in a snowstorm for a parking spot on Main Street, and arrived just in time for the Overture. When the music started, all three of us burst into tears. (I'm sure our row was thrilled to have emotional teenage girls seated nearby.) The book was better by far, but the movie didn't disappoint me at all. I bought the soundtrack and a poster of Rhett Butler playing poker for my college dorm.
Would Hollywood ever re-do the original Gone With the Wind? Dee needed to see the credits for a project, so I scanned through my favorite parts of the movie (I know the dialogue by heart) and I wondered . . .
Could anyone besides Clark Gable play Rhett Butler with such dash?
Johnny Depp looks like a likely rogue.
Brad Pitt has the same devil-may-care swagger.
What about Vivien Leigh's bratty charm?
Is there another Scarlet O'Hara?
Emily Blunt might pull it off.
Leslie Howard was miscast in the first place, I think.
He made Ashley seem wimpy.
How about Mark Strong?
He seems strong.
Olivia deHavilland was perfect as Melanie.
I can't think of any actress sweet enough to replace her.
Tonight when I heard the familiar music and saw Mammy whirl in her red petticoat, I wondered what makes this story so lasting. The history is romanticized and one-sided, and politically incorrect by today's standards. Although Scarlet is almost modern with her lumber mill and independence, Melanie is my heroine with all the strength of femininity. Does she still fit an ideal? Do girls still want to be rescued by a guy in a white hat? Or are stories like this gone with the wind?