Dontinga, Randy. “Southern Storm.” Christian Science Monitor 4 Sept. 2008. 1 Dec. 2008. http://features.csmonitor.com/books/2008/09/04/southern-storm/
Southern Storm provides a historical overview of the Union Army’s destructive and infamous “March to the Sea” under General William Sherman that left much of Georgia in ruins during the American Civil War. In an interview with Civil War historian Noah Andy Trudeau, author Randy Dontinga provides a distinction between with is true and what is myth surrounding General Sherman’s notorious march. According to Trudeau, popular belief tends to paint General Sherman’s quest through Georgia as a lawless and moral-less tromp that left the Old South crippled and ruined. While Trudeau concedes that the Union Army did torch homes, confiscate crops, and destroy railroads, American mythology on the whole paints a “much grimmer” picture of General Sherman’s March than history suggests. Perhaps one of the most striking misunderstandings surrounding the Union invasion of Georgia surrounds the Northern Army’s treatment of the local population. Dontinga’s article suggests that as opposed to being destructive monsters, Union soldiers were “often respectful and even polite to Southerners, and spent most of the time admiring local women.” Although Sherman’s actions resulted in the fracture of the Southern economy and spirit, Dontinga and Trudeau illustrate that Sherman may not deserve his villainous, destructive reputation.
A historical account of General Sherman’s March to the Sea is valuable in assessing the historical accuracy of Gone With the Wind, as many of the novel’s most memorable scenes depict the destruction of Scarlett’s “world” at the hands of the Union Army during Sherman’s march through Georgia. The film’s infamous fire scene, along with the depiction of the total destruction of Twelve Oaks and Scarlett’s deadly encounter with a rogue Union soldier all provide the viewer with a villainous perception of the Union forces under Sherman’s command. According to Dontinga’s article, the Union forces’ torching of homes and confiscation of crops illustrated in Gone With the Wind are historically accurate. However, the wicked depiction of the Northern forces is not necessarily historically accurate, but is rather reflective with popular Southern mythology in the wake of their loss in the Civil War.
Richardson, Riché. “Southern Horrors, Global Terrors.” Black Renaissance, 7.3 (Fall 2007). 30 Nov. 2008.
Southern Horrors, Global Terrors by Riche Richardson analyzes the manner in which producers D.W. Griffith and David Selznick approached translating the racially-charged novels “The Clansman” and “Gone With the Wind” into film. Both novels, set during the American Civil War and rooted in Southern ideology, utilize virulent racist language to illustrate the pervasive bigotry typical of the South during the War period. Griffith’s 1915 film Birth of a Nation, based on the novel “The Clansman,” retains and advances the novel’s racist elements. In contrast, Selznick’s 1939 film adaptation of Gone With the Wind offers an ostensibly less racially-charged account of the War and Reconstruction than both the film’s literary counterpart and Birth of a Nation. Richardson describes the film version of Gone With the Wind as more “sanitized,” ignoring numerous instances in the novel where popular characters like Rhett Butler and Melanie Wilkes dehumanize and devalue African Americans. Further, Richardson contends that Selznick’s omission of many of Margaret Mitchell’s racist elements is reflective of Hollywood’s contemporary rejection of overt racism as distasteful and morally reprehensible.
In assessing the consistency of Gone With the Wind with the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Richardson’s article provides a valuable insight into the nature of racism in the 19th Century South. Both novels advance the Southern ideology of the period that aimed to perpetuate black inferiority to the white supremacist class. As the article illustrates, Griffith chose to accommodate such bigotry in his film, while Selznick chose to “tone down” Mitchell’s racist elements. Selznick’s choice to abandon much of the bigotry that pervades the literary narrative may make the film more appealing to contemporary Hollywood and American culture, but makes the film less reflective of the Southern ideology of the period.
Conde, Mary. “Some African-American Fictional Responses to Gone With the Wind.” The Yearbook of English Studies. 26. (1996) JSTOR. University of Pennsylvania Library. Philadelphia. 1 Dec. 2008. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3508659>
In her essay, author Mary Conde addresses the African American community’s reaction to Gone With the Wind, and the novel’s writer Margaret Mitchell’s reaction to their criticism. The most common criticism of the novel is that it appealed to a mythic and romanticized ideal of the “Old South” that ignores the atrocities of the Civil War and the practice of slavery. However, Mitchell vehemently denies these accusations, claiming that she herself denies the existence of any rosy Southern ideal. Further, it is important to note that her novel’s protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara, does not support the Confederate cause and, as illustrated by her emotional breakdown in the hospital while treating veterans, is deeply moved by the atrocities war. Despite Scarlett’s dismissal of the Confederate cause as a justification for war, many African Americans continue to dismiss Gone With the Wind as a gross misrepresentation of the era of slavery in the South.
The reaction of the African American community to the Hollywood adaptation of Gone With the Wind provides numerous examples of the historical inconsistencies and myths present in the film. Many of these reactions have taken the form of fictional writing intended to undermine the glorification of the “Old South.” Novels like Dessa Rose and Jubilee depict the black woman’s struggle during the Civil War. In both novels, the protagonists are hideously scarred, and the plot is ridden with violence and exploitation. Such novels stand in direct contrast to Mitchell’s novel, and paint a more realistic, albeit grim, picture of the American South in the Civil War.
Toplin, Robert Brent. “Hollywood’s History: The Historians’ Response.” Reviews in American History, 24.2 (1996)
Robert Brent Toplin’s review of Hollywood’s adaptation of literature to film throughout history analyzes the historical accuracy of David Selznick’s celebrated blockbuster hit Gone With the Wind. In his analysis, Toplin acknowledges the common tendency of Hollywood producers and writers to remove minor stories or characters to simplify the story into a streamlined melodrama. Further, moviemakers will often overstate truths in addition to simplifying them to elicit a response from the audience. Such “creative uses of evidence” are apparent in Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind.
Toplin cites historian Catherine Clinton’s discussion of Gone With the Wind in which the scholar addresses the film’s classic flaws. Clinton argues that Selznick’s constant appeal to “Old South” romanticism detracts from the broader historical and cultural message of the film. However, the most troubling issue for Clinton concerns the depiction of slaves as “happy-go-lucky darkies who are ever loving and loyal to their… benevolent masters.” Clinton finds Selznick’s illustration of slavery and the slaves themselves as offensive and distastefully romanticized. Clinton concedes, however, that the film provides an adequate and realistic view of an “up-country” Georgia. Gerald O’Hara’s humble foreign origins, coupled with Scarlett O’Hara’s rise from “southern belle” to matriarch during the Reconstruction, serves as a reliable reflection of the social fabric of Northern Georgia in the post-war South. Futher, Rhett’s initial resistance and skepticism toward the war movement in the beginning of the film was a sentiment shared by many Confederates in the antebellum period.
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.
The Valley of the Shadow is a digital archive of primary sources that document the lives of people in Augusta County, Virginia, and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, during the era of the American Civil War. Here you may explore thousands of original documents that allow you to see what life was like during the Civil War for the men and women of Augusta and Franklin.
This section shows the routes of battles of union and confederate soldiers in the area.
Today, almost every film receives a big premiere and a grand opening. There is a red carpet and photographers. It is an essential part of the requisite publicity package. The excitement generated by these events attracts people to the theaters and helps boost film revenues. However, at the time Gone with the Wind was produced, it was rare that a film received such fanfare.
Daily Variety provided coverage of the Gone with the Wind premiere and declared it to be one of the biggest premieres of the time. On the front page of the paper, the morning after the premiere, it was reported that the Atlanta "staged the greatest celebration in its history." The theater, the Loew's Grand, was transformed into the Wilkes plantation house. When people passed by the theater they were curious about what was happening and why the facade of the theater had changed. The response which they received generated publicity for the film. Searchlights, which were visible for several miles, let everyone know that it was premiere night. All of the major stars of the film (and others) - Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland, Evelyn Keyes, Carol Lombard and Claudette Colbert attended. The theater held 2,019 people on opening night, each of whom paid $10 per seat, with the money going to charity. Producers were also in attendance. The next week, there was another premiere in New York. Even with all of this hoopla, there were disappointments. Everything was neither perfect nor did it run smoothly. The late nights took a toll on executives. All of the fanfare and glamour got in the way of business. Additionally, there were reports of disappointing initial grosses. This was blamed on pre-Christmas shopping and "psychological overselling" - because of all of the publicity, people assumed that there would be long lines and therefore did not even bother to come to the theater. Despite some "brief hiccups" the movie went on to gross $390 million worldwide.
This article is very informative, revealing the inner workings of the industry and psyche of the public at the time. Although society has evolved and experienced many changes, much has stayed the same.
It is amazing that a film could be so successful 70 years ago when there were far fewer venues for promotion and fewer theaters to generate a large gross profit. This article also reveals that the formula for a successful film is very similar to today - the celebrities, the publicity, the promotion, the premiere and the fanfare. It is a formula as old as the movies themselves.
Margaret Mitchell had been working as a reporter for a newspaper when she fell from a horse and was forced to resign. She was confined to her small, one-bedroom apartment which she nicknamed "The Dump." Ms. Mitchell was given a typewriter as a gift in order to occupy herself within the confines of her house. She was told to write "what she knew." Secretly, she began to write a book. Given the endless flow of people and friends who came through her apartment, she found it very difficult to hide the manuscript. It seemed unlikely that the novel would ever be published because she kept it a secret from anyone who would be able to publish it for her. However, Mitchell's friend who worked at a publishing company discovered parts of the novel in Mitchell's home. The friend informed her boss, Harold Latham, of the "masterpiece" she had found. Latham flew to Atlanta and questioned Mitchell regarding the novel. However, Mitchell did not want to turn in the novel to the publisher. She claimed that it was "lousy, and she was ashamed of it." In a brilliant use of reverse psychology, Mitchell's friend said to her, "well, I would never expect that you would write a good novel, you don't take life seriously enough." Mitchell was angered by this, raced home and immediately gave it over to Latham. She said "take it before I change my mind." Latham read the novel and changed the name of the main character to Scarlet. This was the inception of one of the most successful novels in history. Gone with the Wind was finally published on June 30, 1936 and had almost just as much impact on Atlanta as the actual events that were detailed in the book. It sold more copies than any other book except for the Bible.
This is a revealing source which details the way in which the phenomenally successful novel, Gone with the Wind, came into existence. It is amazing to think that its author thought that her creation was "lousy." Additionally, it is fascinating how a true phenomenon can be born out of seemingly mundane events and thoughts. One of the greatest, best-selling books of all time is a product of a leisure project on a typewriter in someone's living room. Mitchell did not sit down with the intent of writing a phenomenon; she was just trying to keep herself busy when she could no longer work as a newspaper reporter.
One most consider the novel, Gone with the Wind, as a precursor to the film. It is important to understand where the novel came from and the thought process of its author. It is further fascinating that the novel was as huge a success as the film. Often, a book is successful and interesting, while the movie version of the novel is not. Margaret Mitchell wrote a novel and spawned a film that entertained in its time, continues to be of interest as a period piece, and will continue to entertain many generations to come.
Gone with the Wind is one of the most popular films of all time. But why is that? The author of this article suggests several reasons. He says that the audience has a love/hate relationship with the film and its characters. This relationship with Gone with the Wind has to do with the ways in which ideas, specifically ones relating to sex and gender are "both referenced and violated" in the film, most specifically, regarding Scarlett O'hara. This article outlines exactly what those criticisms are in order to prove that the audience's relationship with the film stems from the way in which sex and gender are presented.
I found this article to be an alternative view to the traditional exclamation that "Gone with the Wind is the best movie ever, a phenomenon!" It is interesting to contemplate the underlying causes of the relationship which Gone with the Wind has with its audience. The author views the film from a sociological perspective. This is a more intellectual approach to the explanation of the popularity of the film.
It is also interesting to consider the fact that the audience does not always love the film or its characters. This is a more realistic way in which to consider the popularity and impact of Gone with the Wind. Life is not perfect and neither are real people and their life stories. Margaret Mitchell recognized this fact when she wrote the novel. I think that the audience appreciates the fact that the characters are flawed and, therefore, made more real. As a result, there are moments when one loves Scarlett O'hara and other times that she is despised. It is because of this portrayal of human realities that the audience can appreciate the film and accept it as a true rendition of relationships and society.
This article sheds light on two issues. The first, that the relationship that the audience has with the film is complex and not always perfect. The second is that while the film is popular, it is not because it represents pure escape. Rather, people love the film because they can relate to the humanity and truth in the situations portrayed.
This article is taken from The Saturday Evening Post. The article describes several different mansions and plantations built centuries ago and still in existence today. This article discusses the unique architecture and relevance of these homes in the contemporary South. The preservation of history is contained in these structures that represented a unique way of life in the Civil War South and Gone with the Wind. These homes bring life and added realism to the film Gone with the Wind.
The homes have been lovingly restored and kept intact. The interiors have been remodeled and updated, while the exteriors remain the same, appearing just as they did in the Civil War era. As the tagline of the article suggests, "The pillars of Southern gentility still stand in the renovated plantation homes and mansions of Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia." The antebellum mansions of the South reflect a bygone way of life and culture that was integral to the manners and mores of Southern society. These special homes serve as reminders of a way of life that we will never see again. Both these homes and Gone with the Wind are surviving icons that bring to life an existence steeped in cultural values of the specific era.
This article addresses the issue of slavery which was pervasive in the South during the Civil War. The idea of emancipation was a constantly debated topic within Civil War society. Some wanted the slaves freed while others wanted the Southern institution protected form any intervention. This article from Harper's Weekly is unique in that it is a truly primary source, an actual firsthand article from a real publication of Civil War times. The article was published on December 7, 1861.
The beginning of the article suggests that it is the President and his Generals who must determine what effect the war will have on the South. While there had been no formal change to the policy of slavery at the time of the article's publication, no generals (with the exception of one) permitted "slave hunting" any longer. Additionally, labor was being performed by whites as well as blacks. The article predicts that only time will tell what is to come. The article goes on to say that the Southerners would view a decree of emancipation as laughable. The South sees the entire government and the North as abolitionists. Therefore, an emancipation decree would not be unexpected. The only way to enforce emancipation is through the army. In essence, wherever the Northern army dominates is where abolition would take hold. However, when a general needs more men, he will reconsider his proclamation stating that slaves cannot fight. "Necessity is a most successful schoolmaster."
The article goes on to elaborate on the harsh realities of slavery and emancipation. People acted as they pleased and change was rarely effected without the strong arm of a gun. As a firsthand source, the Harper's Weekly articles are invaluable in their revelation of significant issues often overlooked in history books. Although the article may be biased it is still a highly realistic point of view of the war.
The views held by Southerners regarding slavery during the Civil War are a harsh reality that was pervasive at the time and formed the basis of the Gone with the Wind story. This article provides the reader with additional insight into the characters and types of people who lived during the time of Gone with the Wind and provided the framework for the story that continues to engage generations.
This article, written by Elissa R. Henken discusses the Civil War and is history. The war was fought between the North and the South over states' rights and the abolition of slavery. However, the Civil War also had a significant impact on shaping Southern identity. Although the war is long over, it continues to be an issue of debate amongst the descendants of the original Confederates. It is a part of their history which they will neither relinquish nor put aside.
In this article, Henken details information regarding the Civil War legends and family narratives from people around Georgia. Henken sheds light on the psyche of the Southern mentality of contemporary Georgia. It is interesting to consider that the participants in the article's fieldwork are probably descendants of some of the people who Mitchell used as models for her Gone with the Wind characters. In Henken's article, those descendants of Civil War Southerners provide very strong views of their ancestors. Through the article we are able to see firsthand how Southerners think today and how they view their past. In Gone with the Wind, we see the past of the South recreated in all its glory. The film is a visual embodiment of Henken's study.
Henken's article is particularly interesting to me because it is a primary source and firsthand account of true Southerners, specifically residents of Georgia. The article illustrates real life versions of the fictional characters portrayed in Gone with the Wind. Scarlett O'Hara's and Rhett Butlers truly exist today. In learning about a culture or society, it is fascinating to have firsthand accounts of real people in addition to the fictional versions portrayed in film or literature. Henken's article provides a window into a unique society at a specific time in history. Now, in addition to learning about the Civil War era through a Hollywood studio's view in a great film, I have also attained an understanding of the underlying reality that contributed to the psyche, social mores and political situation of the time.
Gone with the Wind is a film that continues to be relevant because of the time period portrayed, its social influences, and overall importance in the history of film. The release of Gone with the Wind on DVD is significant for a number of reasons. The enhancement of the actual film and the special features added make the DVD an important addition to any film library and just as significant as the film's initial release.
Included in the DVD's content is an in depth interview with Olivia de Hallivand, who plays Melanie. She was nominated for an Academy Award, however, she lost to Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy. (There is speculation that the reason McDaniel won was as compensation for not being invited to the movie's Atlanta premiere.) In de Hallivand's interview, she reveals the chaos which occurred behind the scenes during the production of the film. For example, directors and writers came and went with alarming frequency.
The most impressive part of the DVD, which makes the DVD "vital and gorgeous", is the attempt to revert to the quality of the original Technicolor process in which the film was shot. The evolution of Technicolor is a significant facet of film history. Gone with the Wind was to be the test of the new Technicolor technology. The production of the film centered around brilliance and contrast of color as well as intricate scenery shots. Much of the original impact of the film lay in the quantity and quality of color schemes throughout the production. As the technology of film progressed, Technicolor was deemed old fashioned and new technology improved upon the once spectacular visions produced by the once unique color delivery system. The Gone with the Wind DVD has resurrected the original screen's Technicolor version of the film.
I feel that it is of great significance and interest for today's audience to see the film just as it was presented in its original form. The use of Technicolor had a significant impact on the audience of the time. Every aspect of a film contributes to the way in which an audience views, comprehends, and appreciates the film. With all the technology available today for production quality enhancement, it is important to have the ability to revert back to the original film version and screen it in its purest form. With every generation producing new audiences with interest in the film, the release of the DVD has made this important piece of film history readily accessible to an even wider audience. The attraction of the DVD lies in its special features. For film buffs and people who are knowledgeable about the history of film and production values, the remastering of Gone with the Wind in Technicolor is an important feature which, perhaps, trumps all of the other aspects of the DVD.