In celebration of Mother’s Day, this week we review Gone With The Wind, which is Ian’s mum’s favourite film. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my act together in time to write this post before Mother’s Day, even though we recorded this several days ago… but on the other hand, in the United States Mother’s Day isn’t until May, so you could argue that we’re actually very very early.
Either way, Happy Mother’s Day, Ian’s mum. And Happy Mother’s Day to my mum too – maybe we’ll do your favourite film next year. Is it still Alien?
So Ian and I actually saw Gone With The Wind for the first time a few months back at the BFI. We both had a hankering to see what the fuss was about when it comes to this most epic of epics, but both of us knew the chance of us actually sitting down to watch a four-hour DVD was next to nil. The only way we’d sit through the whole thing was to book a ticket for the big screen – and even then, we had a pact that we would walk out at half time if we just couldn’t take it any more.
Thankfully, it turned out to be an enjoyable watch – although frankly the first 20 minutes were very ropey indeed. It begins with lots of uncomfortable propaganda about the ‘glory days’ of the Old South, all the time showing images of slaves toiling in cotton fields – clearly the ‘glory days’ label only applied if you were a white plantation owner. Then we’re introduced to a selection of spoilt slave owners who it’s hard to feel anything about except irritation, until finally, FINALLY, Clark Gable arrives on screen and suddenly it gets a whole lot better. The chemistry between Leigh and Gable is fantastic, and it’s more than strong enough to propel the film through its lengthy running time – Vivien Leigh in particular puts in an amazing performance, and really brings out the complex and often conflicting emotions of the character.
So a good film then, but one that is ultimately sullied by its uncomfortable depiction of slavery. The film’s sympathies clearly lie with the slave owners, and the black characters are depicted as stupid, stereotypical or bizarrely content at being slaves. You could argue that it’s ‘of its time’, but it still doesn’t make it easy to watch. Oh, and did I mention the marital rape scene? Yeah… that’s… weird.
Last but not least, our Secret Sponsor for this week is Fopp Byres Road (@FoppByresRoad), the original Fopp store in Glasgow. We’ve a feeling that they might have followed us by accident, thinking that we’re the 101 Films horror movie distributor, but we’ll take all the followers we can get, frankly.
If our review has piqued your interest in the film, you can buy Gone With The Wind from Amazon on DVD or Blu-ray by clicking on the links (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).
Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:
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Director: Victor Fleming/George Cukor/Sam Wood Year of release: 1940 Studio/Distributor: MGM/Selznick International Pictures Country: USA