He has an excuse, probably, not having grown up in America. I, on the other hand, really feel silly for not having seen one of history’s classic films until now.
Let me start out by saying that this movie is close to four hours long. So if you’re looking for a summary, you’re in the wrong place. But here’s a quick setup, if you’re as ignorant as I was: Gone with the Wind is set in Civil War-era Georgia. Its heroine, Scarlett O’Hara, is the confident, flirty and somewhat self-absorbed daughter of a plantation owner. She loves an unobtainable man, Ashley, who is with Melanie, a pure and sweet girl unaware of the love triangle of which she is a part. Ironically, Melly turns out to be Scarlett’s truest friend. And of course, you can’t forget Rhett Butler, the wealthy rogue from South Carolina who is the only one who can match wits with Scarlett.
One of my favorite characters was Scarlett’s nurse Mammy, a old slave woman who was with the O’Haras for three generations. Mammy was hilarious. Despite being a slave, she told Scarlett what was on her mind and even the spoiled and stubborn Scarlett often listened to her direction. Mammy was no nonsense. Hattie McDaniel was very deserving of the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award that she won for the portrayal. Ms. McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Academy Award.
The film gives you a bit of Civil War history, and presents the perspective of the Southerners, who lost the war and thousands of their sons, husbands and brothers. I think it is even more compelling now than when it was released in 1939, because we are now so far removed from the perspective of the South, how they suffered, lost their land and wealth, as well as their battle to secede from the Union.
The America we live in today is a result of the North winning the war, led by the great Republican President Abraham Lincoln. Of course, I’m glad that the North succeeded in preventing the Democrat-led South from seceding and maintaining the institution of slavery. Of course we see slavery represented here, and while the presentation may not be “politically correct” for our time, it in indicative of the perceptions and feelings when the film was produced. It is important not to forget history or where we came from, and there’s no reason to feel uncomfortable about that – if anything, we can feel proud of how far we’ve come.
And Clark Gable sure was handsome!