I could talk about the lackluster technicolour recolouring techniques or I could talk about how this story was even poorly paced for 1940, I could even write an entire page on the lackluster cinematography and practically stage-worthy performances.
Gone With The Wind is impressive for its absolutely ridiculous framing of the south. It’s a racist, misogynistic movie that glosses over what is essentially spousal rape and frames it as a twisted romance. Scarlett O’Hara is an awful ‘protagonist’ who gets everything she wants at the expense of everyone else and yet we’re supposed to sympathise with her and want her to win? Why is everyone harkening her as a ‘strong female character’ when all she does is shoot a dude and steal her sister’s husband for little to no reason.
As previously stated, it isn’t particularly well paced. It recycles its main plot three times over the course of three hours and fifty-eight minutes, which should be enough to make it unwatchable, it trivialises and romanticizes the evils of slavery explicitly (Scarlett attempts to free them after the civil war and they insist that they love living there and don’t want to leave her? What?). It paints the sufferers of the antebellum south as the lauded elites for losing their privileges after the war, and O’Hara’s exclusive method for dealing with her problems is marrying rich guys, which she does Four Times over the course of the film, one of whom is her aforementioned sister’s fiance, who she steals and marries to save the family farm. (Would they still have been able to save the family farm if he’d married the sister? Yes. Is this addressed? No.) Finally, the central romantic plotline is abusive from start to finish. Butler’s whole appeal (Other than being Clark Gable.) is that he’s callous and cruel to Scarlet. This is enticing enough to keep her entertained across three other husbands. Finally, they get married, but he remains curel. The first time they hook up, he hits her, forces her to kiss him, and carries her up a grandiose marble staircase, all the while she struggles against him. This is the romantic climax of the film.
She wakes up the next morning, grinning and stretching in satisfaction in an almost comical manner. The fact that he totally raped her is not commented on.
They end up having a kid, and Butler is nice to the kid, sure, until the kid dies. Then he’s back on his damage, and he leaves her in her sorrow. He explicitly tells her he doesn’t care about her in the most iconic line in the film, arguably one of the most iconic lines in film history, and he leaves. The female lead is now appropriately beaten and put in her place. And the audience laps it up, they have every generation that watches it.
That’s it. That’s the movie. Three hours. And Fifty Eight Minutes.
People say the slavery was just ‘a product of the times’ but it came out in 1940! That’s nowhere near an acceptable amount of time to be still considered ‘the times’ of slavery. Marrying a bunch of dudes doesn’t make you resourceful or strong, it gives you the easy way, even considering the period, especially considering the period.
I honestly don’t know why we study this movie, in film and history classes alike. It holds little to no relevance to the modern filmmaking scene, even if the special effects were seminal for the time, they haven’t aged overly well. It’s not particularly accurate to the times, save for a handful of fun facts here and there, and it’s not as creatively shot even as Citizen Kane, which won’t come out for another year but… still. It’s four hours long and almost nothing interesting happens, it misrepresents the south, and is horribly racist while also making Scarlett O’Hara the white knight in the situation, a theme in White Feminism that’s still prevalent today! Scarlett is irredeemable, it’s no wonder she falls for Butler, but the biggest tragedy of this film is that I had to rewind two separate VHS tapes after I finished, second only to the tragedy that the guy who plays Ashley’s name in real life is Leslie. Man, that guy cannot catch a break.