Sunday, January 25, 2009

TDIH: Gone With the Wind

"I can't let him go. I can't. There must be some way to bring him back. Oh, I can't think about this now! I'll go crazy if I do! I'll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters? Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day."

--Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With the Wind

On this day in 1939, filming began on the great American theatrical epic Gone With the Wind.

Seventy years ago producer David O. Selznick juggled casting decisions, one that brought Vivien Leigh to the screen; a change in directors, finally retaining the brilliant Victor Fleming; and, an unruly script based on the Margaret Mitchell book. Selznick's juggling ultimately created an epic film known by its reputation as a masterpiece seventy years later.

I would be remiss if I did not mention this date in history. As someone named after the great plantation and as someone greatly influenced by the historical undertones in this film, I feel a certain connection with the events that took place on this day seventy years ago. As a kid everything I knew about the Civil War I had learned from Gone With the Wind. As an adult I realize that those film references are a big part of why I became an historian. The difference between what I knew as a kid and what I know now is that nothing about the Civil War was as beautiful as Selznick was able to make it appear on screen.

1939 was a wonderful year in American film history, with Gone With the Wind as the pinnacle.

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