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Gone With The Wind (1939) is the great white American melodrama, an epic, picture-book-pretty, operatic fiction of the white self. It is a historical epic of the War Between the States and Reconstruction. Actually the movie is divided into three parts - the antebellum South, the Civil War, and the Reconstruction - an epic structure repeated in this film.
The plot of this film throws in everything: war, violence, serious wounds, gory amputations, explosions, fire, difficult childbirth, hunger, poverty, loss of home, insanity, death of friends, parents, husbands and child, murder, attempted burglary and rape, prostitution, adulterous longings, and unrequited love.
This film states individualism or say-so egoism is not fully pleasing, because it segregates the person from the social community and from a full synthesis with a person of the opposite sex. Yet, giving up autonomy is not fully pleasing either. The film is, to some extent, committed to the liberation of women. As this film solves the predicament by showing Scarlett's independence as endangered by every possible external force of nature or the past, but it further stages an act which is a symbol of ultimate heteronomy: rape.
The film is traditionally romantic in the way it has depicted the innumerable aspects and trends of the era. It includes a distinct racist perspective of slavery and the representation of the black characters. The movie paints a beautiful yet fascinating view of the American South of long ago.
The filmmaker had undoubtedly touched some historical issues in the film especially those related to the Civil War and the treatment of Black slaves. The stance of the filmmaker is to show the audience of the film what the Civil War era was like and how the Black's were treated. This is shown avidly by Scarlett O'Hara's character, where she wonders in a scene: "How dared they laugh, the black apes!...She'd like to have them all whipped until the blood ran down...What devils the Yankees were to set them free!" - Scarlett thinking to herself, seeing free blacks after the war.
Moreover, the film also shows the effects of War and the director of the film takes the audience to a beautiful journey that is filled with love and sorrow at the same time. The film displays large amounts of creative authenticity by the costuming of the characters, the sets and the variations on Stephen Foster's melodious songs as well as other excerpts from Civil War martial airs.
A significant amount of racism can be seen in the form of Scarlett's character, as she expresses her views about black people that were quite common for the white slaveholders of that time. However, some historical inaccuracies can also be noted in the film. Critically, I have seen many myths that have surrounded the antebellum South have been repeated, that slavery was a comparatively lenient institution in which whippings and abuse were rare, and that the slaves were not ill-treated. To some extent, the film also projects reconstructionism as an era when the reckless and rash blacks had bullied and threatened the white women and were the ones to have corrupted the legislatures.
However, the film may be the best example of Hollywood experiments to elevate its intrinsically middlebrow scripts to high-art pictorialism. The irrefutable erotic chemistry of Gable and Vivien Leigh saves a project that has the solidity of a De Mille epic with none of his kinky, production-value excesses. The film shows poor connection, which is sometimes relived, though not fulfilled, by its more celebrated color shooting. The sensuality and decorativeness of the hues in much-admired film repeat painterly gradations that beat the eyes with their chromatic brilliance.