Best Picture Reviews: Gone With The Wind

images-4And now we come to one of the more famous best pictures. It was the first Best Picture in color, and has made it on to many prestigious lists of all-time greatest films. But more important to me, personally, is that this is the first year that I have seen one of the other Best Picture nominees: The Wizard Of Oz. I don’t think I need to go into much detail about that film, because we’ve all seen it and we all love it. Watching it again, I found myself amazed at how timeless it is, and yet also a bit concerned for one of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time: Margaret Hamilton for Supporting Actress. Either way, it’s a masterpiece, and now we come to Gone With The Wind, the movie that it lost to. So after watching both, I find myself asking which movie is truly better. It’s a difficult question, but I’ll try my best to answer it.

Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) was born into a rich family, and could have any man she wished. But the man she wants, Ashley Wilkes, (Leslie Howard) has already promised himself to marry a cousin of his. In an effort to win him back, she comes across a man named Rhett Butler, (Clark Gable) who falls for her. But as his charm works his way to her heart and she finds herself losing track of who her real true love is, her world and all the people in it begin to fall apart.

I think I’m going to start off by talking about this film’s achilles heel: the run time. Four hours. Sure, there’s an intermission, (which, if you’re like me, will be kept going for about a week) but I really feel that there could have been a lot of trimming down done. I think that a lot of directors have confused ‘epic film’ with ‘long film’, and don’t see it possible for a story to be gripping unless it takes forever. I don’t think that that really works, because I don’t know if the average moviegoer is willing to sacrifice four hours of their live to this movie.

Okay, rant over. Pretty much everything else in this movie works. The acting. Standout performance from Leigh, who embodied the character at high and low times and created legit drama. Shout out mention to Gable, who’s charm made him into the Will Smith of the 30’s. This movie also won Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, who played Scarlett’s maid and was the first African-American to win an Oscar. She’s pretty good too, even though she doesn’t get a lot of screen time. The directing and writing do a good job, and do at least attempt to make the run time seem relatively breezy. I personally found the second act to be more investing, but I won’t spoil what happens in it. I will say that the final scene is the most heartbreaking moment in any of the best pictures so far.

The craft categories all deserve their well-earned praise. For one of the first color movies, the cinematography and was done well, and the art direction is spectacular. I also have to direct to the costume branch simply for the array of Scarlett’s dresses, including one made from curtains. (Long Story.) The score and editing was respectable, but the writing is what makes this movie. Okay, maybe it could have been a little shorter, but I found myself really getting drawn to Scarlet and Rhett. This movie seems to have ‘it’, and I found it to be an enjoyable way to spend four hours. But I don’t know how many times I’ll be watching it again. I mean, you can’t just ‘pop in’ a four hour movie, now can you?

But what the heck, It’s a masterpiece anyway! Although I personally prefer Wizard Of Oz for being beautiful, timeless and.. well.. short, this is a film that can’t be overlooked. I would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it.. just make sure you wait for a rainy day.

****1/2

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