I watched Gone With the Wind for the first time when I watched all 100 of the AFI top 100 movies. I believe I split it into two days, breaking at the intermission. And still, with two different two hour chunks, it felt incredibly long. I knew that I was either going to have to split it into smaller chunks and watch it scene by scene or just force myself to sit down and watch it straight through. So I put it off and put it off and put it off. Why? It's SO DAMNED LONG.
Thank Cinemark for bringing me back to the Oscar Project. They show a weekly classic movie. When I saw that they would show Gone With the Wind, I thought it might be an opportunity to give it a shot. I have a much easier time watching longer movies in the theater. You just can't quit on a movie in the theater (unless it's so incredibly bad (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, since we're discussing Civil War movies)). So I went, and here I am. First thought? It's SO DAMNED LONG.
There are a bunch of great things about the movie. There are several beautiful shots of the characters, usually Scarlett, silhouetted against and orange sky. They were even more incredible on such a large screen. The music is great; I'm still whistling the theme. Every time Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable are on screen, they are terrific. Since just about every one of Rhett's scenes are with Scarlett, that means he's always brilliant. That goes double for the final scene where he, frankly, no longer gives a damn. But the final scene is also great because the movie it over. You see, it's a four hour movie. I don't know if I've yet expressed that it's SO DAMNED LONG.
When I was thinking ahead to writing this, I was planning on writing about how it clearly didn't deserve the Oscar. In 1940 it was up against Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Stagecoach, Of Mice and Men, to name a few. And there's one more movie - The Wizard of Oz. Yes, Wizard should have won. I would rather rewatch all of those other movies than to rewatch Gone With the Wind. But that's mostly because those are reasonably lengthed movies which this one is SO DAMNED LONG.
But after this second viewing, and especially seeing it in a theater, I get it a little more. Sure, it's incredibly racist. Yes, Scarlett is a horrible, horrible person. Yes, it gets rather... rapey. But it really is an epic film. It's a BIG movie in ways other than it's four hour run time. I just wish it wasn't SO DAMNED LONG!
NEXT WEEK: 1941 - Rebecca
Oscar Project Rankings:
- It Happened One Night (1935)
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
- Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
- You Can't Take It With You (1939)
- Gone With the Wind (1940)
- The Life of Emile Zola (1938)
- Grand Hotel (1933)
- Cimarron (1932)
- The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
- Broadway Melody (1930)
- Wings (1929)
- Cavalcade (1934)