Wednesday, March 07, 2007

as god is my witness

TITLE: Gone With the Wind
AUTHOR: Margaret Mitchell

I thought this book would take me months to finish, but it was such an engaging tour de force of a book that I just couldn't put it down! I was shocked by how quickly it went, for such a large undertaking. I really enjoyed the story that Ms. Mitchell had to tell, and she certainly made me much more sympathetic to the plight of the Old Southern way of life that the Civil War destroyed. I've always found it fascinating to become more intimately acquainted with both sides of a situation, and I feel like I have heard the story of the Union so often in the history books. I'm not saying I disagree with the outcome of the war, but I do believe it was such a shame that so much blood had to be shed. Who knows if there ever could have been a more peaceful resolution to the conflict; perhaps not. But it certainly was sad to see how peoples' lives were changed so dramatically -- both in the North, and in the South. And of course the slaves' lives changed, and I certainly do believe that not considering a human being a piece of property is a much better way to live! But what I found so interesting in the book was that many of the slaves stayed loyal to their "masters" well after they were "freed" -- probably because they didn't know any other way. But they continued to look down on those former slaves who chose the free lifestyle after the declaration of their independence.

I also found it pretty disheartening to hear how thoroughly most Southerners hated the Yankees, although I suppose it only makes sense because I've seen the Southerners called the bad guys all my life. Relative to the Civil War, that is. It's a shame that some people still can't look past the outcome of an event that took place ... 147 years ago. Come to think of it, that's not really all that long ago at all! Wow. I have always had a hard time grasping history; putting it in that light really makes you realize how short a time it's been since most anything.

Anyway, I am sorry; I digress! Back to the book. Well, I certainly liked the Rhett & Scarlett characters, even though it should have been very difficult to sympathize with either: they were selfish and racist, and Scarlett is elitist and cunning and just not a very good person! She is always only looking out for herself, which is part of what makes her such a strong heroine. But to hear her talk of poor whites and her issues with freed slaves and things like miscegenation; when I hear those things, I want to dislike her. And I do, for that aspect of her personality; what I would consider her ignorance. But she also survives so many very difficult times and supports herself through what wiles she has, so I have to grudgingly respect her, too. But the two characters I want to see together & happy, they can be so cruel in both words & actions towards so many people. I do respect that they are only looking out for themselves, but then again, they lose a little bit of my regard for them in that. I find it so hard to tolerate their pompous airs, even though Ms. Mitchell does explain where they come from very well.

I am writing this review now because I just finished watching the movie of the book, and I have to say, I was quite impressed! It really managed to adhere to the book's plot line, and when it didn't or couldn't, I was so impressed by how the screenplay writers manipulated the work to stay as true as possible to the idea without having to sacrifice much. They really worked it out well. And the acting was very well done, although I have to say I don't find either of the leading men all that handsome (although Clark Gable did have his moments). Viven Leigh and Olivia de Havilland were beautiful, though.

Also, I did learn that my indignation over the 1.37:1 version (versus widescreen) that I was watching was totally unjustified, however; apparently, that is the film ratio that they shot in when the movie was made, and therefore I was not missing out on a thing!

I'll leave you with this little mysterious gem, spoken by a bitter Rhett Butler: "Thanks for the crumbs from your table, Mrs. Dives."

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