I watched Gone with the Wind, the 1939 classic, a few days ago. It is an amazing film. But, I was bothered by a number of plot points.
How exactly am I supposed to feel about Scarlett? Sympathy? I hope not! She is a manipulative, gold-digging woman. Yes, I do love her strength and juxtaposition with men at times. But, she has no qualms about crying to get her way. Screw that! I knew people like her- in high school! One thing I learned was to keep as far away from people like this as you can. Rhett apparently didn't get the memo.
On Rhett Butler
At times I was like, yes, he's the man of men: I want to be him. But, there were a few things I couldn't get over.
First, the age gap with Scarlett was creepy. When they first meet at Twelve Oaks, she's maybe 18 and he's what, 40? Maybe that was acceptable in the 1800's and earlier this century. But, that doesn't change that I'm freaked out by it. I'm 28 now and find 25 to be about the minimum age I can tolerate. The gap between Rhett and Scarlett is Hugh Hefner territory by 1800's standards.
Maybe I missed the line, but I don't think they attributed his wealth to anything specific. Yes, they mentioned he was a blockade runner or something (which immediately got me thinking that Han Solo might have been modeled after him, which is an interesting train of thought). But, I don't think that's enough to explain his grand fortune. Hmm.
He's cold. Too cold. After he drunkenly makes love to Scarlett near the end (I dare say rape, but she appears to have loved it the next morning, so maybe it was just aggressive - which I imagine Scarlett might enjoy given her masculine qualities. Am I allowed to go there?), she's feeling all good about things and then he comes in and is like "I'm going to London for a while. Oh, and I'm taking our daughter too!" What an asshole. I admire the consistency of his character, but he's a jerk for the timing, even though the actions were probably justified given the state of their relationship.
Lack of Character Arcs
In many great films, the protagonist goes through an arc to help the audience connect the lows and the highs and to root for them. In this film, our protagonist is Scarlett and her arc is questionable. Yes, she goes from living a great lifestyle to poverty via the Civil War then to lavishness after marrying Butler. But, the film revolves around relationships. All that stuff about the Civil War and the lifestyle of the south is just extra icing on the cake. Despite things around her changing, Scarlett's relationships are quite consistent throughout the film.
Even though her arc is tiny, it is still larger than anyone else's since all the main characters were fairly rigid and hardly developed during the film. Rhett was the rich playboy who enjoyed his independence ("I'm not a marrying man"). Ashley was consistently ambiguous. Melanie was steadfast. Mammy was Mammy. From a character development perspective, not much went on in this film. It was simply an epic love story told in the south during the Civil War.
It bothers me they seemed to overlook the stigma of Scarlett being a two-time widow. This is the deep south in the 1800's: her life would have been over after her first husband died. She would be an outcast for marrying again. Two, and she would be driven out of town, especially since her actions got #2 shot through the head. They alluded to this at times, but it was quickly moved faster. You'd think in a nearly 4 hour film they could find more time to cover this.
Can you imagine people in 1939 watching two amazing (color) films with 2 strong, female protagonists (Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland)? I'm not an expert on the history of cinema, but surely that year must have been a turning point.
There are some incredible lines in this film. Obvious ones aside, I had no clue that the "don't call me Shirley" line originated in this film and not Airplane!
"Great balls of fire!" I need to watch Top Gun now.