Beyond the Scarlett Lining: Gone with the Wind Revisited

Aside from my love of my own field of English and Literature, and other interests in all things education, leadership, and French, I readily confess that I am a classic film fanatic.

Ever since I was young, I have made it my hobby to watch as many classics as I can. I’ve conquered many lists of top films and read countless biographies, reviews, and blogs.

Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind

My major interests in classic film continue to lie with Hollywood during the Studio Era, film “fun facts,” and the history of how films were made. My special interest remains in the history and development of the Academy Awards. For me, awards season is what football season is to many die-hard Patriots fans!

My recent interests in film led me back to one of my all-time favorite movies: Gone with the Wind, a film that I have seen multiple times, including most recently on the big screen for its 75th anniversary.

Having read the novel and knowing the phenomenon that it caused in literature, film, and American culture, I wanted to delve more into the subject of this timeless movie as it celebrated a major milestone.

So I recently picked up a book entitled, Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited, written by the one and only Molly Haskell, one of the best critics of our time whose interests have specifically been about women in film.

Reading this awesome book and seeing the movie on screen were only two reasons of the many that I felt it an appropriate time to revisit this American classic in my own way.

With awards season on the horizon, and the Civil Rights biopic Selma recently released, it seemed appropriate to look at Gone with the Wind from a racial justice standpoint as well as a phenomenon that celebrates a milestone.

Knowing so much about the black actors who performed in the film, the characters depicted by Margaret Mitchell in her novel, and what Molly Haskell had to say in her book, it seemed an intriguing topic to focus on.

And so I came up with the idea of doing this program called “Beyond the Scarlett Lining: Gone with the Wind Revisited.” While the presentation could go on for hours, surpassing the nearly four-hour length of the film itself, I plan on focusing on certain subjects to come to an understanding of how the book and film extend far beyond its famous protagonist: Scarlett O’Hara.

Examining the literary, film, and cultural phenomenon will be the first step and I will eventually arrive upon the idea of whether or not historical accuracy exists. Additionally, a major focus will be on the theme of racial justice and whether or not it is present in the characterization and performances by the black actors in the film.

Arriving on other ideas in between, I will raise some important questions, including:

  • While politically incorrect, did the black actors in the film do justice to the roles that were written for them from the book and screenplay?
  • How far has literature and cinema come with themes of accuracy and justice since the 1930’s? Would these real-life incidents and characters ever be depicted in the same way today?
  • Why do you think Gone with the Wind has been such a success?

In examining these points, I hope to arrive upon how Hollywood can still view Gone with the Wind as a classic, relevant to today and thank it for the influence it has had on performers and filmmakers of all backgrounds and knowledge.

So please join me on Monday, February 16 at 7:00 pm in the New Lecture Hall (1D) in the Dana Center. I guarantee that you will walk away knowing a bit more and that you too will be swept away by the immense influence that is one of my all-time favorite films, Gone with the Wind.

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