Gone with the Wind on Blu-Ray
This film is four hours long. Four hours. Two hundred and thirty nine minutes including an overture, an intermission, and some pleasant exit music. In four hours, you could drive from New York City to Washington D.C. You could go round trip between London and Paris. Gone with the Wind lasts nearly as long as the civil war itself. And you know what? I’m about as big of a fan.
I had never seen Gone with the Wind before yesterday. This is for a number of reasons. One, it’s four hours long. Two, I’m not a big fan of the south, civil war movies, or classic Hollywood. Three, the acting styles of the time drives me insane. No one woman faints at the idea of another woman dancing with a man while she’s in mourning. Four, Clark Gable uses the world ‘damn’, and I just think that’s inappropriate.
I’m just going to say it. Scarlett O’hara is a bitch. She’s a lying, malcontent bitch who never truly exhibits any sort of redeeming qualities. She’s surrounded by malcontent bitches, who are courted by useless southern men who not only don’t have any helpful skills and are emasculated by the war, but are so wish-y washy when it comes to their integrity (pick a damn woman, Ashley, grow a pair), one can’t help but be glad General Sheridan nearly burnt Georgia to the ground. Also, they all owned slaves. Bastards.
While the war scenes were surprisingly efficient, and startlingly graphic, I’m surprised that the fuss surrounded the singular vulgarity used in the film, and not around the scene where a soldier has his gangrene-riddled leg amputated without any anesthetic. But I was surprised that for many hours, it seemed like I was meant to feel sorry for this ‘great south’ that meant to secede from the Union in order to keep their slaves. No, I can’t bring myself to do that.
All this being said, I can appreciate much about the film. The performances, for instance. Did I mention that Scarlett is a bitch? Well I can’t imagine anyone playing her with such vitriol as Vivien Leigh. She was as cunning and deceitful as any ‘heroine’ I can think of in film. Her performance was matched by Clark Gable–an actor who I believe managed to avoid that terribly dramatic, kabuki theatre-like acting style of the day. He was a lovable scoundrel from the beginning, no matter how many cat houses he frequented. I’d also like to make a special mention of some of the more epic scenes that included hundreds of extras. Particularly Scarlett walking through the road filled with hundreds of wounded Confederates once General Lee had surrendered.
The sweeping score, which was familiar to me in some other way, as I had never seen the film before now, is gorgeous and moving. Worthy of an epic war film, like Gone with the Wind. And the sets, despite clearly being sets, were gorgeous, I was grateful for the mid-production decision to film in technicolor, and not black and white like was originally intended. Also, that after seventy two years, the film can be shown at home on a format a gorgeous as Blu-ray. While I am not able to recognize this myself, I’m told by my brother-in-law that many of the filming techniques still used today were born on the set of Gone with the Wind. In these rights, I bow to the film. I hope one day to understand the full significance of it. For now, I’ll respectfully call a truce, and mark this off of the list of films I should probably see before I die.
Bonus features on the 70th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray include:
- Commentary by Historian Rudy Behlmer
- Mail-in poster offer
Warner Brothers provided BFR with a free Blu-ray for this review