47 Years of Student Run Cinema
Student Film Society of the Year 2002, 2005, 2006
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Victor Flemming/George Culcor, USA 1939, 217 minutes
Adapted from a book by Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind is one of the most successful films in cinema history. Starring some of Hollywood's greatest actors and winner of nine Academy Awards, this a film you simply must see.
The film follows the life and loves of Scarlet O'Hara, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy Southern family. Set during the American Civil War, she witnesses the downfall of a world of grace and beauty towards starvation and desperation.
The film opens with Scarlet (Vivien Leigh, Street Car Named Desire, Caesar & Cleopatra) a young woman whose greatest desire is finding herself a husband. Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard, Romeo & Juliet, The Scarlet Pimpernel), an honourable and decent gentleman, in particular holds her affections. Her love for him is however, doomed as he is engaged to the sweet natured Melanie (Olivia de Havilland, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Airport 77). Clark Gable plays Rhett Butler, a profiteer who does not believe in the war and the man unfortunate enough to fall in love with Scarlet. Scarlet herself is a scoundrel who lies, cheats and kills to get what she wants though, admittedly her ends are largely honourable. Apart from Ashley and Rhett, the central passion in Scarlet's life is the plantation (Tara) and keeping her family provided for.
This film is about far more than Southern belles and dashing gentlemen though. Gone With The Wind touches on some serious and emotive issues; black/white inequality, the Klu Klux Clan, prostitution and the "honour" of war (watch out for the scene in the military hospital where Scarlet is asked to assist in an amputation with no anaesthetic).
The real beauty of the film lies in the vivid and enjoyable characters crafted by Margaret Mitchell played by a selection of Hollywood's greatest actors. Clark Gable is frequently credited with being the most handsome man in film and Vivien Leigh was praised for her ability to drop her English accent and slip into a fluent Southern drawl. The film also saw a black member of the cast, Hattie MacDaniel (Mammy), win an Oscar (unprecedented at the time). Other Oscars included Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Picture, and Best Actress (Vivien Leigh).
Review by Sophie Cruickshank
Taken from EUFS Programme 1997-98
Gone With the Wind was a legend from the moment the book appeared. It took Margaret Mitchell ten years to write, and she never wrote another novel. The film rights were bought up almost immediately by David O. Selznick, and the following intrigues over who was to play Scarlet are notorious still.
The film sets the fiery relationship of the two main characters against the background of the American Civil War. The efforts that have been made to convey the horrors that were described in the book are enormous. Whole towns were built and burned. Nevertheless, the electricity between Scarlet O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) makes the atrocities of war fade into the background. The sexual attraction between them seems almost tangible as, stubborn, pig-headed and unreasonable, they play emotional games with each other all the way through the film. When finally Rhett tells Scarlet he's had enough with the immortal line: "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn" your heart nearly breaks for her, but you certainly can't blame him.
As a whole, it seems a little dated; the caricatures of Southern blacks, the extraordinary length, the rather simple plot - these would all seem rather out of place in a modem film, but there is something about the grandeur of the whole thing that makes it still as gripping now as it was when it was released.
Review by Julia Monelle
Taken from EUFS Programme 1994-95