Monday, 18 January 2010

Frankly my dear I do give a damn!

I celebrated my birthday last week, and contrary to the belief that a birthday so soon after Christmas must be a quiet affair, mine lasted four days!

One of my presents was Gone With The Wind in paperback form, a brilliant coincidence since I am currently reading 'Frankly My Dear' by Molly Haskell; a book that looks into the making and creating of both the book and the film taking into account the lives of the author Margaret Mitchell and the many great actors who made GWTW such a classic and much loved story.

I have loved the film (which incidentally saw it's 70th anniversary last year!) since I was small and first watched it in installments (five I think) with my Mum after we got back from our weekly swimming. It was of course Scarlett who attracted me first, my fascination with female sexuality and empowerment, which began at a very early age, was here packaged in the gorgeous form of Vivien Leigh. I admired without real understanding Scarlett's determination, bravery and selfishness. Her version of femininity undoubtedly stayed in my imagination and has gone on to influence my art work.

She embodied a type of female character I'd never seen before and one which isn't often celebrated in films; Manipulative, unmaternal, masuline minded and bold yet successful and popular. As Rhett Bulter says in admiration, 'What a woman'.

After watching the film again this weekend I am once again full of love for Scarlett and Vivien. Vivien brought a feline like quality to the role, and a depth of understanding that made Scarlett more than a one dimensional bitch. I am especially in love with the scene where she enters the barbeque at Twelve Oaks and systematically enchants every male in the room while encurring the wrath of every women.

Vivien Leigh went on to become the darling of the theatrical scene alongside her husband Lawrence Olivier. During the 30's and 40's they appeared in a collection of Westend hits with Vivien taking on other challenging film roles including the sensitive production Waterloo Bridge. Yet she never achieved the same fame and recognition as for her role in GWTW. She suffered from recurrent tuberculosis and mental illnesses and died far too young at the age of 54.

Aside from the endless debates about race and American history the film always kicks up, my main love for Gone With the Wind stems from the female viewpoint. The strong female performances of Hattie McDaniels and Olivia De Hallivand. A sheer adoration of Scarlett O Hara, a woman I would probably steer well clear of in real life. Applaud for the actress who portrayed her to perfection and a girly affection for a love story plain and simple. Lets not forget the absolutely gorgeous Clark Gable who played Rhett as he should be played; with swagger, charm and irony.

GWTW here's to another 70 years!

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