Gone with the wind 1939 film review

Gone With The Wind 1939: Unconventional retelling of the American Civil War history that not everyone knows

  • Post author:
  • Post last modified:25 January 2024

Last updated on January 25th, 2024 at 01:20 pm

Gone With the Wind 1939 is a historical romance film based on American novelist Margaret Mitchell’s novel of the same name.

Set in the American Civil War, unlike the novel, the film portrays only the romantic affair between a headstrong Georgian girl, Scarlett and her childhood sweetheart Ashley Wilkes who customarily married his cousin Melanie.

Scarlett’s unrequited love for Ashley and love for her homeland dominated the theme of the film. Ashley lived at the Twelve Oaks as Scarlett at Tara, two great cotton plantations in Georgia.

Directed by Victor Fleming and acted by Vivien Leigh (as Scarlett O’Hara), Thomas Mitchell (as Gerald O’Hara), Hattie McDaniel (as Mammy), Leslie Howard (as Ashley Wilkes), Olivia de Havilland (as Melanie Hamilton), Clark Gable (as Rhett Butler) and numerous others, Gone With The Wind 1939 is American Film Institute’s one the greatest movies of all time. It is one of the top 100 best films on my watch and review list.

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as Captain Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind 1939 film
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh as Captain Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind 1939 film

Gone With The Wind

Scarlett O’Hara was seen in the front yard of Tara, with Tarleton twine boys who were fascinated by her beauty.

Tara was her father’s cotton plantation in Georgia. They were talking about how many times these boys were expelled from the university which did not matter to them because the American Civil War was to take place any moment.

As she was bored of hearing about war the boys revealed to her there was a barbecue party as the Twelve Oaks and Melanie Hamilton is coming from Atlanta and an engagement between Ashley Wilkes and Melanie will be announced.

All of a sudden Scarlett became sad and ran to the edge of the yard to wait for her father, Gerald O’Hara who came riding a beautiful horse. she verified the barbecue party and was confirmed that Ashley, with whom she was deeply attracted, was to marry as their custom his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. Scarlett did not believe that to be true, Ashley cannot marry Melany because she thinks Ashley loves her.

But the next night at the party and caught the attention of a guest from Charleston Captain Rhett Butler, she took Ashley to a quiet room and confessed her love for him and he cannot army Melanie.

But Ashley said she was not like him, while Melanie is his blood and they understand each other. She said she loved him, but Ashley said that ” that kind of love is not enough for two people who are as different as they are”. She was disappointed to hear that from Ashley.

Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de Havilland and Vivien Leigh.
Hattie McDaniel, Olivia de Havilland and Vivien Leigh as household slave Mammy, Melanie Hamilton and Scarlett.

Scarlett hurriedly promised to marry Charles Hamilton, brother of Melanie Hamilton, who went to the party and a lover of India Wilkes, Ashley Wilkes’s sister. She wanted to marry him before he went to war to rouse jealousy in Ashlie. However, she became a window within three months of marriage. Charles died in the field.

Scarlett lived in Tara with her father Gerald O’Hara, mother Ellen O’Hara, her two sisters–Caren and Suellen– and many slaves. Closed to their plantation was the Twelve Oaks, which belonged to the Wilkes clan.

In 1881 when the war began Charlese, Ashley and the Tarleton boys enlisted for the Confederate States army to fight against the North. 11 Southern Confederate states decided to secede from the Union. The North opposed the slavery system and wanted to free slaves while the South was in favour of slavery because without slaves their cotton plantations had no use.

Following Charlese’s death and she became despondent, her mother suggested Scarlett to visit Savannah or Atlanta, but she decided to go to Atlanta where lived of her sister-in-law, Melanie and could meet Ashley also.

The book says when she travelled to Atlanta, she had a son, Wade. In Atlanta, she was surprised to see Rhett Butler, now a blockade runner for the Confederacy, in the charity bazaar for the Cause, where he bid 200 dollars for Scarlett to dance with him. To everyone’s shock, she agreed to dance with him while she was still in her mourning dress.

At the defeat of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, the war turned against the South. many of Scarlett’s familiar men died in the battle. Scarlett volunteered in army hospitals nursing the wounded along with many women.

But eight months later when Atlanta fell and the city was besieged by the Yankee army, Melanie gave birth to her son, Beau, and Scarlett decided to leave Atlanta for Tara with Melanie and her son while the townspeople took shelter in Macon refugee camps. Rhett helped them leave and abruptly left them on their own on the midway and left for joining the army.

Upon her return home, Scarlett found Tara abandoned, except for her father, her sisters, and a couple of household Negro slaves Mammy, Pork and Delcie. Scarlett learns that her mother has simply died of typhoid fever and her father was not with him.

No food was left by the Yankees. Cotton was burned, livestock taken and they were all on the verge of starvation. Getting nothing to survive on Scarlett herself picked cotton and all the farm slaves were gone.

With empty stomach, she went to the field searching for something to eat. Finding nothing to eat she stood up and clenching her hand she vowed, “As God is my witness, they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this, and when it’s all over..I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk.  If I have to lie, steal, cheat, or kill…as God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!” Scarlett vows to ensure the survival of herself and her own family.

In 1865 as Confederate General Lee surrendered in North Carolina the war was over, but with North’s victory came settlers and Yankees Slaves were emancipated and went rowdy. Ashlie and Frank Kennedy came home. But for Scarlett war is not over. For she got to know that if she could not 300-dollar property tax, they would have been evicted from Tara. Mr Wilkerson, a former overseer of Tara, informed that and was looking forward to buying Tara should they fail to pay the tax money.

And when Wilkerson finally came to talk terms of buying Tara one day, Scarlett insulted him. Wilkerson was fleeing, after threatening that he would Tara and live in it, while Gerald chased them on a horse. But he fell off the saddle as he jumped off the fence, and died on the spot.

One day when Scarlett approached Asley about the tax money to seek advice, he plainly said that he wouldn’t be of any help. Tired of everything at Tara, she asked him to run away with her which he refused. Because he refused to leave Melanie and his son. Disappointed she realised that there was nothing left for her except Tara.

She decided to go to Atlanta to meet with Rhett and ask for the money. Being in the Yankee jail, he was unable to help him. But on her way home in the town, she ran into Frank Kenney’s store. Desperate for the tax money, when she saw his financial state, she duped him into marrying her and told him that his faience Suellen is going to marry one of the country boys next month. he wrote her a check for 300 dollars.

Scarlett to Ashley to Atlanta to help her start her lumber business. But he did not like the idea of using convict labours in the mill for downfall profits.

However, one night Frank, Ashley and several different accomplices who joined Ku Klux Klan made a raid on a shanty metropolis after Scarlett is attacked by several negroes whilst driving through it alone.

The raid cost Frank’s life. Quickly after Frank’s funeral, Rhett proposes to Scarlett and he or she accepts. she was frank to say that she married him partly because of his money.

Rhett and Scarlett had a daughter whom Rhett named Bonnie Blue Butler. but Scarlett was still in love with Ashley. One day returning from being with Ashley at the mill, she realised that having babied ruined her figure, and informed Rhett that she is not willing to have any babies and won’t share her bed with him from then on. the decision badly hurt Rhett and devoted himself to Bonnie’s care.

Another day Scarlett and Ashley were discovered by his sister India embracing each other at the mill. Because of her intense dislike of Scarlett who stole her lover, India spread the rumour. Rhett heard it but still took her to Ashley’s birthday party that night. Melanie, however, did not take the rumour seriously and blamed India for her jealousy of Scarlett and stood by her.

After returning home from the birthday party Scarlett found Rhett drunk downstairs. They argued fiercely over Ashley. However, their argument ended up having intense se*x, which she never before had experienced. 

The next day Rhett left for London with Bonnie. But when they returned home after an extended trip, Scarlett revealed to Rhett that she was pregnant. an argument followed as he asked her who might be the lucky father.

In the middle of the argument that took place on the flight of stairs, she fell down as she tried to hit him, which caused her to suffer a miscarriage. During her time of convalescence, another tragedy stroke the. Bonnie fell off her pony attempted to hump a fence and died before their very sight, in the yard. Bonnie died just the way Scarlett’s father died.

a few days later, Melanie died of a complication related to her pregnancy. The doctor advised her not to have any more babies because of her health. As Scarlett consoles Ashley, Rhett prepares to depart Atlanta. Having realized that Rhett, and not Ashley, who truly loved him, while she kept loving Ashley all for the wrong reasons, she pleads with Rhett to stay. He said that now that Melanie is dead her dream of having Ashley came true.

He left by saying, ‘as long as there was Bonnie, there was a chance we might be happy. I liked to think that Bonnie was you, a little girl again. Before the war and poverty had done things to you. She was so like you. And I could pet her and spoil her, as I wanted to spoil you. But when she went, she took everything. A distraught Scarlett resolves to return home to Tara, vowing to one day win Rhett back.

Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard as Scarlett O'Hara and Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind 1939.
Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard as Scarlett O’Hara and Ashley Wilkes in Gone With the Wind 1939.

Personal Insights

First and foremost, I will never get tired of watching Gone With the Wind as I will never be bored reading the novel by Margaret Mitchell.

The film is addictive, I must say because of the acting quality and almost exact portrayal of the book. I had to read that fat classic book to understand the film thoroughly. And of course, I would prefer reading the book to the film because of its hair-splitting descriptions of the warring circumstances.

Even though the book presents us with historical reality and the way we perceive the American Civil War and the Emancipation of slaves, the film focused on the romantic side of it. The acting of Vivien Leigh as Scarlett, Hattie McDaniel as Mammy and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler makes a four-hour long film nonboring. We can get the picture of slavery from the slaves’ accounts. More discussions on the book are here.

True, the film, mostly the book is mighty enough to change our perception regarding the American Civil War, the South’s attitude towards negro slaves, the aftermath of the war and the period of Reconstruction.

The world used to view slavery and war through Martin Luther King Jr. or Abraham Lincoln’s lances where oppression against negroes and their freedom is the lone theme. But Gone With The Wind opened up the door for us to see it through a different lance, thanks to Margaret Mitchell.

Apart from that, Scarlett’s love for Ashley was unrequited all through. Being drastically different from each other Ashley realised that they can only love each other, but could not materialise that love into marriage. Vivacious, unthinking, immature, hard-headed Scarlett failed to figure that out.

As a result, she marries Hamilton to avenge Ashley’s ignorance, marries Kennedy for money and marries Rhett for the prospect of being rich and regaining the power of being the centre of attention.

But when she understood that Ashley was a mirage it was too late already. By the time she lost everything she gained by trickery, except Tara where she chose to head after the loss of the battle between love and reality.

Gone With The Wind, both the film and book, is filled with entertaining values and knowledge, the knowledge of the past, language and humanity as a whole.

Romzanul Islam

Thinking out of the convention and moving forward with knowledge and reasons are always my styles. Researching, watching the best films, and reading and collecting the best books to enrich me is my deadly passion. Stoicism, liberalism, feminism and aversion to material success are my ideals.