Gregg, Jill. "David Selznick." St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, 2002. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419201091>.
Gone with the Wind was David Selznick’s biggest claim to fame as a producer. However, he produced several other films, first as a member of a family production company, and later changing between production companies such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount, and RKO. It was not an easy task producing Gone with the Wind, as he was faced with issues regarding casting and multiple directors. In order to get Clark Gable to pay Rhett Butler, he had to give up distribution rights to other production companies. Even finding the female lead was hard work, although it did pay off in the end. After auditioning lines of women in Hollywood, it was decided that Vivian Leigh was the best to play the role of Scarlett O’Hara. The film provided Selznick with 10 Academy Awards to place under his belt, and is still one of the most well-known films of our time.
Selznick did a terrific job in producing the film, especially in regard to the roles he cast. Having read the novel by Margaret Mitchell, audience viewers found the woman cast as Scarlet O’Hara to be just as they had imagined her. This parallel quality is what contributed to the success of both the novel and the film, allowing individuals to create visions while reading and then see them displayed on the screen while watching the movie.
Tyack, David and Lowe, Robert. "The Constitutional Movement: Reconstruction and Black Education in the South." American Journal of Education, 94.2 (1986). http://www.jstor.org/stable/view/1084950?seq=1&Search=yes&term=civil&term=reconstruction&term=period&term=war&list=hide&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoAdvancedSearch%3Fq0%3Dreconstruction%2Bperiod%26f0%3Dab%26c0%3DAND%26q1%3Dcivil%2Bwar%2B%26f1%3Dall%26c1%3DAND%26q2%3D%26f2%3Dall%26c2%3DAND%26q3%3D%26f3%3Dall%26Search%3DSearch%26ar%3Don%26sd%3D%26ed%3D%26la%3D%26jo%3D&item=4&ttl=38&returnArticleService=showArticle.
During a convention in 1868, following the Civil War, it was decided that the time was appropriate to begin further education of African Americans, enabling these individuals to voice their opinions and lead better lives. This movement towards education was a part of the Reconstruction Period. White Americans were very upset with the news of increased education for blacks, especially since they believed blacks were somehow inferior and did not want to have similar opportunities or experiences as members of the white community. Another concern was that with education, blacks would be able to think about political and social issues and form opinions that may contradict or be difficult to control when voiced against others. This article, written by Robert Lowe, describes the selfish nature and hesitation of whites regarding the proposal of a higher educating system; however, while the Reconstruction period was not successful in reinventing a political economy, the period did bring about changes in the education of African Americans that lead to an improvement and regeneration of quality of life.
One of the reasons why Gone with the Wind is such a long film is because it covers both the War and the Reconstruction Period following the battle. Scarlett helps in the rebuilding of a city in ruins, both with physical detriments and a low morale. The need for education of African Americans can be seen in certain slaves depicted in the movie was “dumb” or “silly”. The low intelligence levels of such characters are used as comic factors in order to entertain the audience. In order for African American to rise from that form of humility and defeat, an educational Reconstruction was justified in every aspect.
Walker, Juliet. “Racism, Slavery, and Free Enterprise: Black Entrepreneurship in the United States before the Civil War.” The Business History Review, 60 (1986). .
In this article, Walker describes the role of African Americans in the area of business prior to the end of the Civil War. The business world was sparsely populated with African Americans; free individuals at the time still faced incidences of racism, while slaves were faced with legal boundaries that prevented them from interacting with other businessmen. The article describes that as the economy prior to the Civil War became more dynamic, more African Americans became involved in business and partnership. The trend of slavery continued here, however, as many black businessmen went back to a position in which they were subject to serving white families. There was a need to protect private property among white landowners, which often resulted in the revival of slavery and the concept of blacks serving whites.
With the possibility of free and enslaved African Americans becoming future entrepreneurs, it is strange that the film Gone with the Wind depicts such individuals in a negative, degrading light. This, in fact, is one of the biggest critiques of the film. The film tends to highlight the minute positive aspects in the life of a slave, such as his or her comic character or slight contribution to a quarrel or discussion occurring among a white family. In regard to the article’s statement that the majority of free and enslaved individuals during pre-Civil War or Civil War times continued to work for white owners, Gone with the Wind portrays these slaves as fully devoted and loyal to their masters, and in turn, the masters treat the slaves as immature members of the family, presenting them with gifts for so-called good behavior and providing their opinion in matters regarding the family. The slaves in the film who stay loyal and do not bring up the idea of eventually working elsewhere, for example in the field of business, are considered less threatening and therefore acclaimed among Scarlett and other individuals in society; however, those who broach the topic of freedom and personal fulfillment are belittled and rarely supported.
Adams, Amanda. “Painfully Southern”: Gone with the Wind, the Agrarians, and the
Battle for the New South.” The Southern Literary Journal, 40 (2007). .
This article, written by Amanda Adams, describes a popular consensus among men that Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind, was biased towards the perspective of the female, neglecting to include certain political issues that were pertinent to the Civil War period. It is implied that many individuals believe that the popularity of the novel was due to increased readership by women because of the gender of the author. While writing the novel, Mitchell was not focused on the political happenings in the Confederate states; instead, she was trying to restore an image of the American South through detailed descriptions of the area, people, and culture. The setting of the novel is northern Georgia, which introduces diversity not only through race but also through social and economic status. Since the novel was set in her hometown, Mitchell was well versed with the area. The article continues to discuss the topic of whether or not the book describes the South as a progressive area or an area that is stuck within an old culture and values.
After Mitchell's novel was made into a film, there were still negative sentiments felt regarding the lack of portrayal of the politics, or more male-dominating issues regarding the Civil War and Reconstruction period. Many critics found it troubling that the entire structure was dominated by women, with the story of the film written by a female, the leading character played as a southern female, and the novel and film attracting a generally female crowd. However, the novel and the film show the dedicated participation of Scarlett O’Hara in the Reconstruction years, with Scarlett helping to rebuild and expand the city of Atlanta.
Railton, Ben. “What Else Could a Southern Gentleman Do?: Quentin Compson, Rhett Butler, Miscegenation.” The Southern Literary Journal, 35.2 (2003). .
Ben Railton draws both comparisons and stark contrasts between two eminent novels that emerged in 1936, Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom! Both novels serve as introspections into the history of the southern states, racial tensions, and the sentiments and characteristics of individuals who have had experience with the “Old South” lifestyle at some point in time. Both novels have been reprimanded for the lack of a more thorough inclusion of race and other pertinent issues aside from love and daily life. However, there is more criticism regarding racial factors in Absalom, Absalom than in Gone with the Wind. The emergence of both novels around the same time helped in reinforcing similar concepts and ideas, while also introducing diverse viewpoints from two completely different authors. I found that one of the most interesting aspects of the article was the similarity drawn between both protagonists in the novels, Scarlett O’Hara and Thomas Sutpen.
This article provided information regarding a new novel that was complementary to the story of Gone with the Wind, providing a new perspective on another author’s thoughts and experiences regarding the American South during the Civil War Period. It was interesting to find that the use of African American characters to coincide with white protagonists, for example the interaction between Mammy and Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, was actually not unique to that story but had been a key factor in American novel and film production for many years. The innocence and naiveté that Margaret Mitchell has been criticized to demonstrate in Gone with the Wind in regard to racial tensions and discrimination is found mainly in the second half of the story, during the Reconstruction period; these sentiments are made even more apparent when contrasted with other novels of the era in which authors confront such questions boldly and without much hesitation.
Chaplin, Joyce. “Slavery and the Principle of Humanity: A Modern Idea in the Early Lower South.” Journal of Social History, 24 (1990).
This article, written by Joyce Chaplin and printed in the Journal of Social History, describes the change in treatment and sentiment regarding African Americans. Initially subjecting African Americans to forms of physical abuse and bondage, whites, particularly those in South Carolina and Georgia, eventually began to realize that slaves were also people and therefore did not deserve forms of inhumane treatment. In the following years, blacks were subject to exploitation through social, political, and psychological means. While it was agreed that blacks deserved proper treatment, they were still not seen as equals with whites in regard to intelligence and social or political conscience. This resulted in the withholding of certain rights and privileges from African Americans, controlling the amount of education they were able to receive and keeping contributions to society to a minimum. The implementation of humane treatment produced less harmful methods of punishing slaves; however, these methods were still quite efficient in regard to the purpose of controlling the behaviors of the slaves.
Gone with the Wind tends to depict the general treatment of slaves as humane, and the viewer sometimes feels as though the slaves are content with their status, rarely plotting to escape from the slave-owner and family. The slaves are, however, portrayed as being of low intelligence compared to the rest of the white characters in the novel. This is due to the oppression of slaves in regard to their minimal exposure to education and classes of higher social standing. While it is rare to find signs in the novel or film of owners physically harming their slaves, the film producers did a bit of injustice because such actions did exist occasionally. Again, this is one of the biggest critics of the Gone with the Wind as both a popular novel and film.
Adams, Jesse. “Local Color: The Southern Plantation in Popular Culture.” Cultural Critique, 42 (1999). .
This article by Jessica Adams examines the symbolism and role of plantations in the history of the American South and the Civil War. The presence of plantations resulted in the need for slaves or cheap labor to maintain the land, which was often a large source of agriculture. Therefore plantations, which are markers of southern history, were grounds for the establishment of issues such as racism and slavery. Today, enthusiastic tourists visit some of the existing plantations in order to directly observe the land where much of American history was defined. During the period of the War, it was common to see African Americans working outside of the plantation, picking cotton or cultivating other crops. Inside, however, the whites were found within aesthetically pleasing rooms, drawing a clear line between the slaves and the slave-owners.
The film Gone with the Wind gave many Americans insight into the southern mentality; however, throughout the film this mentality transforms into values that can be found across the nation. Towards the end of the Civil War, the symbolism of the plantation moves from the manual labor of slaves to the manual labor of the people usually found inside the plantations. The protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara, receives a drive to keep enduring the hardships and concludes the film with the statement, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” This final sentence shows the extent as to how much Scarlett has matured throughout the course of the war, especially since the beginning of the film shows her giggling and flirting with two brothers. This transformation made Scarlett a paragon for feminist qualities in the eyes of southern women, both white and African American.
Gross, Doug. “Georgia Hoping to Lure Civil War Buffs.” Deseret News, Salt Lake City
8 Apri 2007. .
Georgia, or the city of Atlanta in particular, was largely affected by the Civil War. Union troops arrived in the city, setting it on fire and destroying anything in their path of rage. As a Confederate state, Georgia saw a number of battles such as Fort McAllister; the community also saw efforts taken such as the establishment of the First African Baptist Church and organization of the Underground Railroad in order to maximize the amount of freed slaves. In order to attract more tourists and attention to the history of Georgia, the governor of Georgia has proposed a renovation of the battlefields and other war sites, allowing for people to visit the scenes directly and gain some sort of idea as to how battles were fought. Another proposal is to elaborate on or document the lives of freed slaves as well as other African Americans who experienced any disadvantages in regard to daily lifestyle.
While Gone with the Wind is an epic love story, the film builds on a historical background that includes the initiation of the war, the union march through Georgia following the overtake of Atlanta, as well as the Reconstruction. The Reconstruction period arises in the second half of the film, where the city of Atlanta is under development and Scarlett starts to get involved. The film depicts Scarlett as a woman able to relate to Atlanta in a meaningful manner, since both are incredibly beneficial to society and are striving to thrive and achieve. Eventually, it is Scarlett who takes the responsibility for the construction of the new city of Atlanta, leading to a prosperous professional industry.
Conde, Mary. “Some African-American Fictional Responses to Gone with the Wind.”
The Yearbook of English Studies, Strategies of Reading: Dickens and After Special Number, 26 (1996). .
This article, written by Mary Conde, describes the general sentiments felt by members of the African American community in response to Gone with the Wind. While a plethora of novels have been written in regard to the Civil War period, Gone with the Wind received a majority of the attention and became known as one of the most popular, influential films of the period. The film’s widespread success has often been attributed to the timing of its production. The story emerged during the Great Depression, providing those in despair with a form of entertainment and divergence from the toils of daily life. The story of Gone with the Wind was attractive to many individuals, especially those in the North who had taken an interest in the culture and aesthetic nature of the South; however, African Americans expressed disconcert over their misrepresentation in the story and produced fictional works that often paralleled Gone with the Wind while depicting their plight and drive to escape in a more accurate fashion.
While Gone with the Wind is set in the southern town of Atlanta during the Civil War and period of Reconstruction, critics often claim that the film leaves out crucial parts of the historical event and focuses more on the personal lives of white characters in the story. The film is often criticized as portraying the South in a vantage point that is too good to be true for the time period in which it takes place. Rather than showing the harsh conditions prevalent among African Americans, the story incorporates the character of ‘Mammy’, a cheerful slave who is oblivious to the treatment and restrictions placed against the other slaves around her. In order to express their feelings of injustice, African Americans produced stories of their own that presented heroines who, unlike Scarlett O’Hara, were not naïve to the racial tensions and discriminations against a population of people.
Flinn, John. “Gone with the Wind, 1939.” Independent, The London 29 June 2007.
The filming and final production of Gone with the Wind was a long process, taking nearly one year to complete. The film emerged in 1939, three years after the novel was published by Margaret Mitchell. This major hit had no problem succeeding in theaters, attracting masses of audiences with each screening. One negative aspect was the length of the film, approximately three hours and 37 minutes, but it was agreed that there would be no cuts in order to incorporate all aspects of the novel. Some criticized the film, stating that there was no need to include lines from the original book in verbatim. After encountering both pieces of work, it is apparent that the critics lost, with the lines in the film accurately reflecting the lines found in the novel. The work and precision that went into the production of the film can also be seen within the casting of characters. Both Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, played by Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable, physically and mentally resemble the essence of the characters that readers had previously imagined.
The inclusion of certain lines from the novel, however, proved to be profitable. Generations after generations were able to quote and recognize Rhett Butler’s famous line to Scarlett, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” While most stories that are created go on to become either popular novels or popular films, Gone with the Wind is unique in that the foundation of Margaret Mitchell’s story was turned into both a successful novel and cinema.