Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is it Gone With the Wind?

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.

Scarlet and Rhett on the bridge.

Mom described the movie in rich detail, so that I recognized Scarlet's green dress when I finally saw it on the screen four long years later. Back in the day, we had to wait for the classics to return to theaters, and when I saw the announcement in the newspaper in April, I marked the day in November when it would open.

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?


Christie said...

I remember reading Gone With the Wind in junior high, too. I was captivated and have loved it ever since, though I do prefer Scarlett to Melanie.

I don't know if they could successfully pull that movie off again - but Johnny Depp would be a DASHING Rhett.

Sigh. Now I want to go watch it again...

Diane L said...

I was reading GWTW when the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon. I remember being furious when my mother made me put my book down to watch history in the making.

Perhaps Drew Barrymore for Melanie? She is a fine actress, despite some of her movies. I bet she could pull it off.

Linsey said...

Oh, I hope they never remake the movie. It is perfect, even with all of its production flaws.

I have read the book at least 4 times and seen the movie so many times I can run it in my head without the visuals. Margaret Mitchell's mastery of the language coupled with her personal eccentricities have always fascinated me. And David O. Selznick's manic drive to bring the book to life is an epic in and of itself. The characters in the novel and the images from the movie are iconic.

gab said...

Everything I know about the Civil War, slavery, the Deep South and true love, I learned from GWTW.

I think (with your blessing?!) I read it for the first time it in fifth grade. Much went over my head, I'm sure.

One of my babysitters was reading it last summer and LOVED it. It's a classic for every generation. A really well-done remake would be a dream.

Bev said...

seems that is the time frame a lot of us read that book --- I didn't see the movie until many, many years later on TV, and to me the casting of Scarlett wasn't right -- I always pictured her as a red head

I was one of those girls that wanted to be rescued and taken care of -- being raised mostly by my grandmother, I truly believed that could happen --- real life has not been nearly so pleasant

I encouraged my daughter to read whatever interested her, but I also did not hide the real world from her, and I think she's been better for it

Soul-Fusion said...

I was 12 when I read Gone With the Wind but I had seen the movie a number of times before that. I can't pass this movie up when it is replayed on tv. So good that I wouldn't want it to be remade, I love Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable too much.

Jolyn said...

ahh, gwtw...THE family favorite...with polly acting out scenes could i not love it? then, when my (then) 5 year old started saying 'frankly, my dear, i don't give a damn' was her favorite movie also...she didn't read it until a bit, we have the added fun of aunt cammie being bonnie blue can you NOT love it?

Tiffany said...

Oooo, I like your casting call! Loved this post!

Michelle said...

ooh, I love your ideas. And now I'll be pondering the perfect Melanie...

time to pull out GWTW.

diane said...

The first time I saw Gone With The Wind I was a freshman at BYU. Loved it, still do.

How about Amy Adams as Melanie. She can do sweet.

I also sat under a bonnet dryer every Saturday night as a kid to have pretty Sunday hair. Thank heaven for blow dryers.

polly said...

they might be able to cast some of the other characters again, but there never will be another Rhett Butler. Clark Gable is the one and only.

Sandra Ferguson said...

I'm off the age where I don't think real romance should ever die. And to me, Gone With The Wind is real romance. I, like you, am aware that it's not politically correct and that women are to be viewed as a man's equal in every way. But I'm old-fashioned enough that I don't believe women are a man's equal or that men are a woman's equal. I don't believe that we're supposed to be equal at all. So color me in the wrong century, but Gone With The Wind still works for me.

Jenibelle said...

My favorite of all time, hands down.

I've read it three times and the misguided "sequels". They can't remake it, it's sacred isn't it?

Heather @ Alis Grave Nil said...

I just found your blog this morning (through m. writes) and the fact that your front page has a post about GWTW? I'm hooked! I am so a fan. I am an English teacher and I regularly tell kids that they couldn't find a better book to read. I was kind of late to the game--I only read it a few years ago, but it is amazing. I treasure it. I thought the movie was okay, but to me they are like two different stories. Ahh.. I just love it. :) I'd rather someone remade it into a miniseries, I think, so they could get more of it in.

Chelsey said...

I just found your blog this morning and I love it! I was thinking... how about Emmy Rossum as Melanie? She's very sweet and has such classic beauty!