Books and Movies

Good Book AND Movie? ctd.

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…

Books, Books and Movies

Good book AND movie?

Very rarely does a movie made based on a book rival the book.

In fact, I can only think of two right off the top of my head that without a doubt rival the book: Where the Red Fern Grows and Gone With the Wind.

When I was about nine, I read…er…had read to me is perhaps a more accurate statement, Where the Red Fern Grows.

Being a nine year-old girl it was a little difficult for me to get into the story at first. I mean, give me a break, the story was about a pre/early teen boy who longed for a pair of hunting dogs. Yawn. (Oh, and I should probably mention my interest in dogs at that age rivaled my interest in boys/hunting in general: none.)

But then, somewhere along the way, interest sparked.

Perhaps it was the trouble Billy encountered while training his dogs or the excitement of his hunts. And don’t forget the bet Billy took against Ruben and Rainie which turned into a high (treeing the ghost coon) and an unsettling low (Ruben tripping on Billy’s axe and dying). Which could only be rivaled by the highs and lows Billy encountered at the hunting championship.

And then, came the tragic, yet bittersweet ending…

Why does the movie rival the book? Is it just because it sticks so close to the plots and subplots of the book they’re nearly interchangeable? Yes, and no. Thankfully, someone who’s read the book can watch the movie without rolling their eyes every few minutes about the inconsistencies. However, without having to read the book first, it’s very easy to pick up on the true feelings, struggles and motives of the characters–due to good acting, directing and most definitely, excellent script writing.

For most of the secondary characters in the movie (mother, father, Grandpa, to name a few) this was not their first role. However, for the actor who played Billy Coleman (Stewart Petersen) this was his first role. And while I do understand he had to possess some talent for acting or he wouldn’t have gotten the role, nor polled it off so well, it was clear the writer of the script had read and fallen in love with the book in order to write such a parallel script.

To be continued…