The 75th Anniversary of Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind MV5BNDUwMjAxNTU1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg4NzMxMDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_It is the 75th anniversary of the movie Gone with the Wind.  On Sept. 28 and Oct. 1, the movie will be screened in more than 650 theaters in the U.S.

My eccentric mother loved Gone with the Wind.

It was her favorite book and movie.

“My life is Gone with the Wind crossed with As the World Turns,” she said dramatically after her divorce from my philandering father. (As the World Turns was a soap opera.)

Shortly thereafter, she began collecting Gone with the Wind memorabilia.

Without a doubt, it got out of hand.  Like many collectors, she was probably compensating for something.  Eventually there were five cabinets of Gone with the Wind figurines in her small living room.  Move too quickly and you would break something.

She gave me a Scarlett doll and a Rhett doll.   They are in a box somewhere. What was the mystique of the coy Southern belle/brilliant businesswoman and the dashing blockade runner?  What did it say to her?

She identified with Scarlett.  I know, because one year I excitedly tracked down a Melanie figurine on the internet for her Christmas gift.

She informed me that she only liked Scarlett.

That was typical of my relationship with my mother.

In my adolescence, we had a falling out after my parents’ divorce.  Many years went by when we barely communicated.  There were the painful Christmases when we exchanged unwanted gifts by mail.  (Christmas has always reminded me of the break-up of my family.)  When my husband and I moved to a lovely Midwestern city not too far from my hometown, my mother and I tried very hard to reconcile. She finally realized that I hated shopping (I used to get almost physically sick at the mall), and so we began to go to movies together, as we had in my childhood.

But our relationship was dysfunctional.  She was afraid of my sibling, who very oddly accused me of having moved back to the Midwest to get my hands on whatever little money she had.  He warned my mother that if  she ever visited us, he would cut her off from seeing his family.  She was as horrified as we were by his edict, so she cheated by allowing us to visit her.

I remember GWTW as a re-creation of Vanity Fair, only set during the Civil War.  Scarlett is an amusing opportunist who slept with men for power, tried to steal the sappy Ashley from the lovely, charitable Mellie, and exploited Rhett, the charming rake who loved her madly.   My mother was obviously more like Mellie, a gentle woman who did charitable deeds and helped out her friends.

I do have her copy of the book, and maybe I should reread it.

I won’t go to the movie in a theater, but I am still thrilled by its revival.  When I opened the newspaper today and read about the 75th anniversary, I felt that it vindicated my mom.

4 thoughts on “The 75th Anniversary of Gone with the Wind

  1. It was very brave of you to tell this story. If we would all tell of the realities of family lives, we would help one another more. When I was 12-13 I read a copy of Gone with the Wind to pieces. I knew whole swatched by heart (as I later did Bronte’s Jane Eyre). Books read at that age become formative: I also read Austen’s P&P and S&S around that time. I don’t remember the first time I saw the movie, but I know it’s a movie mothers-and-daughters or women with special relatoinships go to together to watch. Mitchell captures some central archetypes in Anglo culture which are again realized in Downton Abbey.

  2. I really do want to reread Gone with the Wind. I enjoyed it very much when I was 15, but it never meant as much to me as it did to my mother. The movie is also excellent. I never understood her collecting. It often seemed impossible that I popped out of her womb. But as we both got older, we enjoyed each other’s company

    Brave, foolish: who knows? I am trying to write more honestly, and people don’t have to read it if they don’t want to.:)

  3. The summer that i was 11, i read GWTW for the first time. Summers were a time of free range reading and i had the run of a nice city library. I read it in great gulps over a couple of days, actually reading at night under the covers with a tiny penlight. I had read Little Women already, and around that time i remember reading Jane Eyre too. After “the Big Three”, it was a given that I would love Victorian culture. I have read bits of GWTW from time to time since, but never with the wonder of that first immersive experience. Some of my favorite characters didnt make the movie, like Grandma Fontaine who attempts to share experiences with Scarlett after the war. I really should reread it, still have the copy i demanded for Christmas that year, and it is still with me in my library, although so many other books have gone away.

    • Oh, Gina, what a lovely story! I, too, adored Charlotte Bronte. At 11 or 12 I was completely indiscriminatory in my reading: one minute, I’d devour Jane Eyre; then it would be Tolkein or E. Nesbit; then Kurt Vonnegut; and then I’d happily read books like The Robe and The Lives and Times of Dobie Gillis.

      Women love GWTW, and I’m sure it’s worth giving another go for me.

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