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Analysis Of The Film Adaptation Gone With The Wind

June 23, 2022 by Essay Writer

The American film adaptation Gone with the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) is a romance story that surrounds the American Civil War from the confederate perspective. The film glosses over the political problems while still being directly impacted by the results of the war. The appeal of this film is for people to find a way to identify with their own encounters. As for this film it brought people together, Mast and Kawin’s “A Short History of Film” says, “It is to appreciate the importance of integration”. The viewers who watch Gone with the Wind will have multiple impacts from all perspectives and this is how the film became the most legendary film of the Hollywood Golden Age.

In 1939, America was trying to rebuild the economy and in the process of reconstructing from the tail-end of the Great Depression. Originally, the Gone with the Wind had a different director, George Cukor who was let go from the job. This film was aimed towards modernistic middle-class white women who were using movies as a form of escapism from reality. Gone with the Wind is a melodrama that was filmed in Technicolor which used vibrant colors and silhouettes intricately. “Color reserved for cartoons or for spectacles that could afford the slowness and expense of color shooting. ” (A Short Story History of Film p. 201) This film was expensive with the usage of color, setup and the number of actors that were hired. The shadows in Gone with the Wind even set some of the certain color schemes, from dark scenes for romance to bright orange colors when there is danger such as a fire. The soundtrack in the film had a theme for each character emotion, when there were scenes with conflict the music would become louder and in the intimate scenes the layered strings would give an emotional feel with a dynamic contrast.

The film centered around Scarlett’s life, when she is told that her love interest Ashley Wilkes will be marrying a woman named Melanie and Scarlett spent most of the film trying to win back his love and the Civil War begins. The South begins to literally burn down to pieces, Scarlett and her slaves escape the devastation and returned home. Mammy gives the news that Scarlett’s mother has passed away, at this point Scarlett is left to take care of the household along with her father whose health quickly declining. The slaves are now left with no direction and repeatedly asking Scarlett questions. Scarlett starts to get agitated and has no idea how to run the household by herself. So, she starts treating some of the slaves poorly in the best way she knows to address her authority. Once authority came together, life started to grow again, and the slaves went back to their usual lives. They showed no interest in leaving and were willing to stay to help Scarlet. The first half of the film comes to and end with a silhouette lighting of the plantation and the lights fading on Scarlet’s face as she vows for her land to never go hungry again. The colors started dark and begin to fade to light orange hue as for hope is soon at the end of the tunnel for part one.

Mammy played by Hattie McDaniel, the first black woman to earn an Oscar for best supporting actress. Mammy’s character was portrayed as wise with a strong head and knew how to stand her ground. She also was the head of the house slaves and kept Scarlett in line whenever she would over step her boundaries. The writer of the novel Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell says “Mammy is a composite character with all of the stereotypical mammy qualities, with each trait exaggerated until Mammy is reduced to a comical caricature. She is not just fat, she is grossly obese, and she is not just subservient to her master’s family, she has adopted their entire belief system, which insists on her inferiority”. (Mammy p125) This means that Mammy has accepted her life as a slave and realizes she must make the best of it. Mammy also has been with Scarlet’s family for three generations and knows the family well. “One of the most consistent traits assigned to the stereotypic mammy character is that these women demonstrate a strong preference for the white children of the families that own or employ them over their own children”. (Mammy P122) She has become the comfortable chaperone slave in the house due to her history with them.

In part two of Gone with the Wind, the family and slaves are now moved into Rhett’s home and it is post American Civil War. Scarlett marries Rhett and things in the film only become darker from there. Mammy is now left to still act motherly towards Scarlett, who becomes pregnant with Rhett’s daughter. The relationship between Rhett and Scarlet remains unhealthy, while the slaves are sitting back and witnessing the arguments. Mammy, Prissy and Pork are the slaves that live with them. Once again, the slaves were made to look like they never wanted to leave. They look comfortable, Mammy shares a drink with Rhett and gives her a nice petticoat to wear. Even though they are living in the big house with the family, the film never showed where the slaves would sleep and eat. In part two Fleming starts to use different lighting techniques when more deaths start happening. He would use candle lights in certain rooms and use darker areas to represent death. Mammy’s face is lit differently with certain shadows on her face when she is explaining the death of Bonnie.

Fleming would frame the black actors by themselves and they would act childlike with comedic lines. Prissy portrayed by Butterfly McQueen, another one of Scarlett’s slaves, was made to look like the most uneducated of all the slaves. She lies about her qualifications on being able to deliver a baby and goes into a complete panic attack of screaming and crying. Throughout the film, Prissy has multiple outbreaks where she is yelling in her high mouse sounding voice and becoming the laughing stock of the city of Atlanta. It also gets her into trouble with Scarlet who once again becomes fed up and smacks her in the face. Most of the slaves start to lose their purpose as workers and come off as the comical relief. Another one of the slaves who was unnamed, was chasing after a rooster with a hatchet and jumping around with the sharp end up. Fleming uses this as a technique to keep the story moving forward despite the other events that are currently happening in the film.

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