See the epic “Gone With the Wind” on the big screen in all its cinematic glory.
I saw “Gone with the Wind” for the first time in my high school world history class. I have little doubt that I had no real appreciation for the film at the time, although I’m sure I was thrilled to spend the majority of the week watching a movie instead of listening to a lecture.
My memories of high school are vague, vignettes in fading Kodachrome with dark, blurred edges, but there are pieces of that film that remain, even though it was shown from a small CRT television on wheels.
It’s the colors in “Gone with the Wind” that stick out in my mind—the greens of Tara, the fires of Atlanta, the staggering blues and purples of the skies. I can’t think of a modern film that equals the vibrance and visual elegance of “Gone with the Wind.” It’s a filmmaking style no longer seen, long gone and replaced by techniques that tint entire films green or yellow in an attempt to subtly manipulate audience emotions. At least director Victor Fleming was up front with his manipulations.
“Gone with the Wind” is a film that I have never seen the way it was intended. Small screens and home theaters will always fail to capture the majesty of the epic Civil War drama. However, on Sunday, Sept. 28, the East Ridge 18 will offer an opportunity to see the film as it should be—in a theater, with surround sound, accompanied by a crowd of people eager to experience the end of an era.
The showing will sell out—several years ago, I attended a screening of “To Kill A Mockingbird” which was absolutely teeming with people. “Gone with the Wind” will be no different. Both films are quintessentially Southern, speaking to the unique experience below the Mason-Dixon Line. Of course, they have differing perspectives and purposes, each approaching the theme of humanity and hope with a different brush. However, both films represent the region as it was, and as it is, and how it sometimes wishes to be.
As modern as the South becomes, as fast as our internet claims to be, the pastoral ideal and wistful remembrance of days long past remain strong, influencing everything from social policy to business partnerships. The forlorn Southern pride on display in “Gone with the Wind” is still prevalent today, causing some Southerners to be obtuse in the face of progress that cannot be stopped.
Often, it seems that that any challenge to the status quo is equivalent to Sherman’s “March to the Sea”, burning away one way of life and leaving nothing in its tracks. But the message of Scarlett O’Hara remains the same, whether it’s dramatically vowing to the sky or remembering that tomorrow is another day. Things continue. What is lost is replaced and time moves ever forward.
The love story between Rhett and Scarlett has never interested me. Scarlett herself is one of the first examples I can remember of an unlikable hero. It is always the themes that I find fascinating, the opulence of an antebellum South on display and the beautiful indignation of the Southerners of the time that anyone might challenge their way of life.
There are plenty who question the film’s accuracy. Much of our understanding of the time period is shaped by this film, for better or worse. But there is always truth in exaggeration. The attitudes of the people in film are not merely inventions—Margaret Mitchell was raised in Atlanta and knew from firsthand experience how to craft her characters.
In fact, Mitchell’s own grandmother provided much of the information she used to create the story and her mother’s work as a suffragist likely inspired the strength and independence of Scarlett’s characterization. Vivian Leigh, of course, was perfectly cast. But the film is about so much more.
As much praise as I frequently give the Majestic 12 for bringing independent films (as well as hosting the Chattanooga Film Festival), the East Ridge 18 is unique in its desire for event films. It’s hosted both “Ghostbusters” and “Forrest Gump.” It alone hosts “Mystery Science Theater 3000” live events. And ever so often, they give us the classics. “Gone with the Wind” deserves to be seen on the big screen. Take someone who’s never seen it and open their eyes.