Friday, November 14, 2014

Gone With the Wind

Last night, I went to a showing of Gone With the Wind at the Orpheum Theatre.  The Orpheum was built in the 1920's and is currently being restored to it's former glory.  It's a beautiful building and a lot of work has already been done on it.  About once a month, they'll show an old movie on their big screen.  I've seen GWTW several times in my life but not recently and never on a big screen.  It was pretty incredible.  For a movie that was released in 1939, it's hard to believe some of the things that were included, both visually and morally.  The burning of Atlanta... those aren't special effects, folks.  They pretty much had one shot filming that because the set was destroyed by the explosions and the fire.  And morally... there was quite an uproar at the time because of Rhett Butler using a curse word at the end of the movie.  But I was more surprised at some of the dresses that Scarlett wore.  And the scene near the end where Rhett's drunk and semi-abusive?  This film came out 75 years ago and was considered very scandalous by a lot of people.  If only those people could see the kind of trash that Hollywood puts out now...

The thing that always gets me with that movie is the romanticizing of the Southern way of life.  The knights and their ladies fair, the tranquility and prosperity, the happiness of the slaves... a life of ease and comfort for the ruling class, supported by the willing and dedicated slaves.  Everyone knows this is all hogwash, right?  In fact, there's a very ironic line in the movie.  Ashley confronts Scarlett on her use of criminals to run their mill, knowing that the overseer will abuse and starve the men.  Scarlett says that it's no different than using slaves.  Ashley counters that point by saying that their slaves were always well treated.  That point right there, fair treatment of slaves, was used by many plantation owners to defend slavery.  As if giving them food to eat and a roof over their heads made up for the brutal labor, the constant fear of being sold or seeing their family sold, the cruel punishments for infractions, and, most importantly, the complete absence of freedom.      

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