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, by Ben Railton, compares and contrasts two immensely successful novels, Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom!. 1936 was an incredible time for both the historical and Southern novel. The two novels studied are perfect paradigms of this fact. Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom! present many similarities and differences between their key characters and settings. These are "two interpretations of history which were coming into conflict at precisely the moment of this coincidental joint publication."
This article provides a unique view of Gone with the Wind. By comparing the novel to another important work of the time, a very different perspective is presented in light of the historical issues of Absalom, Absalom!. This comparison of the two important novels is a means of understanding the framework of Gone with the Wind from a completely different perspective.
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.
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.