16-Fast Friends

I do not know why I love this movie so. Normally, movies/books/stories about people who make really bad decisions and who’s lives fall to pieces as a consquence leave me feeling a little cheated. If the main plot arc is the main character’s obvious stupidity it makes it a little harder to get into, and you find yourself distracted with all the “What an idiot! I would never have done that! Why didn’t she shoot him first?” thoughts. Gone with the Wind kind of relieves you of that, by making the characters SO archetypal that they obviously never stood a chance. You know that YOU could never put up with Ashley’s unceasingly ethereal prattle, but it is part of Scarlet’s actual character that she cannot overcome the bumbling, mealy-mouthed stooge’s supposed charm. Therefore the movie (for me) slides ever so gracefully into the land of farce. From this point of view, it is genuinely enjoyable over and over again. All the more so for the honestly clever dialog between the major players, and the blithe assessment of the beauty, honor, and virtue of their world?while a hundred feet away dirty and ill-clothed (but always grateful and obsequeous) slaves toil in the broiling sun. The scene on the stairs where Scarlet tells Rhett she doesn’t want his baby, and he retorts that perhaps she’ll get lucky and have an accident mere seconds before she loses balance and goes tumbling down the stairs, elicits a belly laugh from me every time.

Some see Gone with the Wind as a timeless classic of American cinema. Some see it as a shameful commentary on our nation’s history. I see it as a cautionary tale about hubris and shortsightedness of all kinds. Even the poor depictions of blacks in the film (slothful, stupid, and dishonest) add to the movie’s general tone of anxiety that everything is unraveling for these arrogant idiots who prance and parade and pretend that all will be right with the world if they just close their eyes and pretend that God likes white southerners better than everyone else.

No matter how many times I watch it, they still can’t help themselves.

P.S. I was HAPPY when Bonnie fell off that pony. Spoiled little brat.

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