Gone with the Wind is epic — in scale, in social impact, and in artistic influence. The first cut of the movie was four and a half hours long. The
Gone with the Wind is epic — in scale, in social impact, and in artistic influence. The first cut of the movie was four and a half hours long. The premiere was a three-day party. Just casting the two lead characters took two years. But the story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), her suitor Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and the object of her love, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard), told against the backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction, might just have required a movie that big.
There are certainly problematic aspects to the film; at best, the story sympathizes with slave owners, and at worst it dehumanizes its black cast members and dismisses them with stereotypes. Still, Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American Academy Award winner for her role as Mammy, and the industry’s recognition of her work was a very early step in the (ongoing) process of equal recognition of people of color in Hollywood. It’s a huge movie, in every possible sense of the word.
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