You know, I’m not qualified to address all the things that are currently wrong with Gone With The Wind, so I won’t. I started a re-watch recently thinking yersis might be able to enjoy the costumes, but she was instantly annoyed by the lack of period correctness and I gave up trying to persuade her.
What surprised me was the way I could just enjoy it as a weird snapshot of 1939. At that time, the Civil War was long enough in the rear view that only the very elderly remembered it. It was as far back as World War II is now. [Checks math. Pretty close!!]
Anyway, I remember as a kid being completely disinterested in the film because when I asked my mother what it was about, she said it was about a woman who really loved her farm. That is a terrible synopsis, even if it’s accurate.
The big messages now have to do with the horrors of caricature, but also the horrors of romance – romance about the past and romance about that guy.
I have already plunked down a great many words about the problems with romancing the imaginary past, so let’s gloss on by that for now.
Why would an intelligent woman put so much energy into worshipping a man? She didn’t want him sexually, at least it doesn’t come over that way. She wanted him to love her and only her. She manipulates everyone in her sphere to try to force the feelings out of him. He admits he loves her pretty quickly, but refuses to give her the satisfaction of owning him with it. Honor and tradition and all that are just excuses to never give her what she wants. Why would she idolize such an utter pain in the ass?
It makes a kind of sense, I think, for a woman to completely fling herself into hero worship in the 19th century. It would have been easier to make something of her chosen fella than to make something of herself. So much of the deck was stacked against a single woman, she would seem deranged to even try to do anything on her own. One has to love the optimism of the independent 19th century gal. For me, the greatest appeal of Scarlett O’Hara is her fierce feminism. She is voracious and powerful in a way that is not encouraged in any time period. You go girl.
It’s fascinating to me now to watch the movies of the early 20th century with the female perspectives in front of my mind. The movies tend to tamp down the wildness of the written heroine and make her a manhunter. Is this the fantasy of the filmmakers shining through?
Orson Welles’ Jane Eyre is so hungry for Rochester, but that’s not the way the book reads. Jane is fair minded and independent. She deserves to be heard and cherished and it’s a surprise when she finds Rochester appealing as a companion.
Watching “Rebecca” (1939), also starring Joan Fontaine, she is far more obsessed with her husband than the written character is. In the book, our heroine is trying to make her way with no preparation or support, and the tightrope of ignorance is what makes all the horror and suspense really painfully effective.
It didn’t even enter my conscious mind that all my favorite films from back then were stories of lady rebels. I haven’t read “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” because I never noticed the book credit, but I’m willing to bet Mrs. Muir isn’t actually ghost horny on the page. The film managed to do what films to best and put two supremely sexy stars together and let our dirty minds do the rest.
Man, I sound like such an old scold. I’m not, though. I’m just over the whole manhunter phase of my life and thank God for that. Fuck off, Ashley. Make your own business decisions.
I’m not scared of romance, either. I am not scared of it in precisely the same way I am not afraid of being assaulted by leprechauns. It ain’t my mythology.
You can put down the big bowl of romance if you like.
Well, I’m still sober and the rumor is that I won’t have all my marbles for years. I haven’t had all my marbles for a long time, anyhow. I do feel as though I have found a few more marbles in the past several weeks and at least one of them is a writing marble. Marvels.
Kindle update: the research team is hard at work updating me about how they don’t know why my kindle version is not available. If you would like a copy, drop me a line and I’ll add you to the list of people to notify when the flood gates of books are once again open.
Are We Not Chickens? Inc.
These days, the scariest thing that happens is forgetting there’s an industrious garden spider who spins across the front porch most nights. I never see her, but I get to admire her work up close on the regular.