Gone With the Wind has to be one of my all-time favorite movies. And considering that I saw it for the first time less than a year ago, that’s rather impressive.
Last March I finally got over my fear of how long the book was (the average book I read runs 300-400 pages, max) and went for the plunge and read Gone With the Wind. It took me nearly two weeks to finish! I’ve never read such a detailed book in my life. But even for as detailed as Ms. Mitchell made the book, just about every detail or conversation had some point. Granted there were a few (such as the details about the curtain rod that held the green drapes up) that were a bit unnecessary, but for the most part, everything she wrote, or had her characters speak, came back up or foreshadowed something.
I was nearly in awe when I watched the movie. There is a reason it’s four hours long. Almost every line of dialogue in the movie, was directly from the book. Only a few inconsistencies could be found (Ashley had two sisters, Scarlett had a child with each husband, William something who came to Tara and later married Suellen though he was in love with Careen, the way Gerald dies is a slightly different, and the most famous line, “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” didn’t have the “frankly” in the book).
But what makes the book and movie so timeless (and yes, I’ll admit I’ve seen the movie now about four times, but will not be rereading the book) is the way the time period was captured.
Ms. Mitchell was quoted saying she grew up on the knees of men who fought for the Confederacy and she didn’t even know until she was ten the Confederacy lost. Her vast knowledge of the period, presumably by listening to her grandparents retell their stories, and detailed descriptions made the reader (or viewer) see things as they probably were during the time of the civil war, almost like the author herself had been there to experience firsthand the bitterness and courage that fired up both sides of this country and made them fight for what they believed. And that, dear reader, is largely due to excellent research, which, let’s be honest, came naturally to Ms. Mitchell. Others of us, however, are not so blessed to personally know someone who lived in the time period we write about–unless it’s contemporary, of course–which makes research such a critical part of being an author…