Gone With The Classics

Does anything compare to knocking an important film off your to watch list? I’m no way to finishing mine and probably never will. But it’s always a thrill to watch a classic.

This week it was Gone With The Wind. It’s always been one of those films I know I should see but never really got around to watching. There was actually a very specific sequence of events that had to occur for us to watch it this time.

First, we found it cheap on DVD at the Lifeline Bookfest. This is probably the only place we would have found it so cheap and also been so caught up in the moment that we would decide we absolutely have to buy it there and then (Senaai and I get very caught up at the Lifeline Bookfest). It’s not the sort of film you’ll just chuck on if it’s on Netflix, but if it’s on the shelf staring at you, you’ll get round to watching it eventually.

Second, we had to find a whole day to put aside to watch the film since it’s goddamn almost four hours long. We’re busy people, even if we mainly just go to the shops and back. Eventually this happened, only for us to discover the DVD was the wrong region – I imagine that was why it was at Bookfest in the first place.

Luckily Senaai’s parents have a region free DVD player, so we had to, thirdly, find a time to take it over to their place for a screening. Luckily again we look after their beautiful dog Cooper when they’re away, so the opportunity came up organically. We could hardly have put it on after dinner one night is what I’m saying (again, four hours long).

But, fourthly, we had to actually be in the mood to watch the thing. That mood doesn’t always happen on cue. I’m probably always in the mood for a Batman or a Richard Linklater or a Hitchcock – but am I always in the mood for an American  Civil War epic? Not really unfortunately.

But eventually it did happen. The stars aligned and we saw the film. After almost two years on the shelf, we saw Gone With The Wind.

And it was fine. Very good in some places. Vivien Leigh was amazing, and the first half of the film was certainly compelling. However, overall, I didn’t think it was all that wonderful. As someone who doesn’t mind long melodramatic films, it was still a bit too long and a bit too melo. Most of the characters were just awful people being awful to each other, which can work up to a point, but I’m not sure it did here.

The racism is still there in all its glory and there’s a marital rape scene that is handled about as poorly as you could possibly imagine. It’s a product of its time etc but it was still hard to stomach. Same
goes with being asked to empathise with former slave owners – weird.

But I’m glad to have seen it. It’s one of the big ones after all – the fact that it is so important is somehow its biggest achievement. I’m not sure if I will see it again anytime soon though. I’m grateful though, because I’ve always had this weird thought that I couldn’t be a proper filmmaker if I hadn’t seen Gone With The Wind. Now I have, so maybe I’ll finally get that big break.

Apocalypse Now is the next biggest film, the potential roadblock to success in my mind. Maybe that’ll be next. Maybe in two years.

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