- "..I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
- Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
- Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind..."
- ~Ernest Dowson, Mitchell's source for the final title
Gone with the Wind
I read the book then saw the movie; sad.
I dread the look the author must have had
When she saw her Scarlett on the screen
thin and flat as a paperdoll that screamed.
But still the sets, the dresses, widescreen shots
Shut out the gutted edits of the plot.
In hoops the glittering ladies waltzed like dolls.
In whoops the ballroom laughter, fans and shawls
Made it feel we graced that dance of time
Faded into glitter, forced to rhyme.
Missing sauce, I'm Melanie the meek
Kissing faithless Scarlett on the cheek,
Knowing Ashley couldn’t make his move,
Showing Rhett what women have to prove.
Six hundred twenty thousand soldiers died.
Tricks and love scenes, Scarlett’s stubborn pride
Are what we got wrapped up in 40’s glam;
War and Rhett frankly didn’t give a damn.
Posted for real toads
Mary's Mixed Bag
and FormForAll at dVerse Poets Pub
(Couplets in iambic pentameter where both first and last syllables rhyme.)
Process Notes: I read Gone With The Wind three times in my adolescence, and loved every page of it, not only because of Mitchell's well-drawn characters, but because of all the rich historical detail she included--battles, facts, and thousands of lines about the background and mechanics of the Civil War itself, and through which she made them illustrate that historical period in detail (not that I didn't love as well all the soap opera antics of her main characters.) I was terribly disappointed by the movie--Hollywood at its most superficial, despite the lavish trappings and the excellent cast. But perhaps no film can ever have the scope of a thousand page novel. Anyway, both book and film are deservedly classics, and no slur is intended toward Vivien Leigh, though she never was the Scarlett I saw reading the book. To me Olivia de Havilland was THE actress in that one. And wonderful as Leslie Howard was, all one could do was scratch one's head and wonder what on *earth* Scarlett was thinking when she had Clark Gable eating out of her hand.
Image: Film poster for Gone With the Wind, 1939, By Employee(s) of MGM
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
I enjoyed your piece. And no he didn't give a damn.ReplyDelete
What a great revisiting of this classic. I loved the books and the movies. It's probably better to be a Melanie; I'm more of a Scarlet, which just gets a girl into trouble. :)ReplyDelete
Oh, I don't claim it as a virtue--and in the book, Scarlet was the woman to be, despite her flaws.Delete
oh i agree with you so much on books not translating well to movies, i will take the book any day, a few nicesticks in there too...being forced to rhyme, ha...and your last couplet...smiles...nice personal section too on melanie the meek kissing scarlets cheek...fun one hedge...ReplyDelete
Ha! I also was a big Gone with the Wind fan. Three times was definitely not enough. I even saw the movie 7 times, though I agree it was not nearly so good as the book. Olivia de Havilland was great--of course, she was so beautiful and strong always so hard to see her in any way as "mealy-mouthed." Vivian Leigh great too, although certainly not to period. All of the actors--so silly now--though they were all very good, but an embarrassing edge now too to the movie, which really does not match up to the book. Fun poem though. Especially like the hoops and whoops--the internal rhymes--not so forced as the women!ReplyDelete
For me the book was actually a connection to my mother, who grew up in the Depression and was part of its first wave of admirers.
I haven't see it in the last decade;I'm sure it shows its age(if nothing else in the 'comic' casting of Butterfly McQueen.) When I was young, I was always impressed with two scenes--the fantasy, hoopskirted ballroom dance where Rhett makes Scarlett's acquaintance, and the scene that opens the second part, of the field hospital stretched out beside the tracks--the rest of the movie was just Days of Our Civil War Lives for me, but fun. The book--well it didn't win a Pulitzer for Vivian Leigh stamping her feet and pouting, is all I can say. ;-)Delete
I am in 100% agreement with you over this. Book over movie, Melanie was my hero too.ReplyDelete
Olivia de Havilland was the star to me, I only saw the movie once and never read the book. Just yesterday I noticed it is on Time's 100 novels list and made a note. You make a great point here and do it with characteristic skill.ReplyDelete
In the book Scarlet has something like three marriages and seven children, among other little details the film leaves out, if that tells you anything. ;-)Delete
Oh, I so enjoyed this, Hedge. I watched it again just recently, when I was in the mood for harking back. Whole different viewpoint from a seasoned perspective, than when I was young and my heart, too, wore hoopskirts:)ReplyDelete
I wonder if that first stanza might fit for a lot of authors who see their work on the screen. I've never read the book or seen the movie but the poem worked quite well for me, especially the part about how the spectacle can make us forget a lack of substance.ReplyDelete
Great poem and great commentary. I too was enthralled by Mitchell's descriptive detail. You're absolutely right about L. Howard playing the wimpy Ashley Wilkes. Remember the opening scene with the Tarleton brothers fawning all over Scarlett? One of them was played by George Reeves (tv's Superman), who would've made a much better Ashley.ReplyDelete
I am sure that often Hollywood's version of a book is disappointing to the author; but I loved Gone With the Wind when I read it in high school (only once) and also loved the movie. I can't say I enjoyed either more than the other, but I was glad to have read the book first. I enjoyed the framed couplets. This is one dVerse challenge I didn't try.ReplyDelete
Geezie Jeezus Louisee Hedge, you've knocked ANOTHER one outta the park ... If ever a Civil-War era girdle of a challenge fit perfectly (OK, 2 challenges), 'tis this one. The simple rhyme and driving meter work for a grand exegisis of the movie's rise and fall from the book. My fave line: " ... Scarlett on the screen / thin and flat as a paperdoll that screamed." Epic compression. I am not worthy! I am not worthy! - BrendanReplyDelete
I am laughing out loud, here. I didn't think you'd care much for this one with its little form straitjacket. Glad I could please so easily just by reaching into my bag of rhyme-y tricks, B.Delete
Even without the footnotes- your frustration around the translation of the book to film comes across loud and clear...I agree- books never seem to make the translation from words to film very easily. Really liked how you fit the form around this unique topic! I certainly found it tricky...love your passion for a book that clearly had a big impact on you!ReplyDelete
What fun! This is so clever! :)ReplyDelete
What a wonderful combo of two prompts... this works really well as a framed couplet. I agree, I'm for book over movie!ReplyDelete
I wondered that same thing, what you said at the end of your process notes.ReplyDelete
I love this !ReplyDelete
Would you believe I've read Gone with the Wind over twenty times? Scary, huh?ReplyDelete
You totally kicked ass with this form. I found it impossible.
This is great, Hedge. I am always disappointed when I see beloved books turned into movies, but in this case, for some reason, I saw the movie first. Have no idea why, but it made the book all the more interesting.ReplyDelete
Good work here, very good work.
This is the movie I always think of when I think of classic movies. I also read the book and loved it so much more than the paper-doll characters in the movie. I think movies in those days were more like filmed stage plays--quite different from what we expect of movies now. And I am so glad you put the don't give a damn quote in!ReplyDelete
Wonderful tribute! I loved Melanie~ReplyDelete
I loved your line about Scarlett being a thin paper doll that screamed!
I was thinking recently that I wanted to watch this movie again because I've only seen it once but you have me thinking, I'll read the book. Great job with this, Hedge!ReplyDelete
I never understood the draw of the film, which my first wife watched a million times. Maybe if I had read the book first... who knows? As it is, Your poem makes the film at least begin to make sense to me, though perhaps I am a bit too Rhett-like to admit it.You really shine in the use of the form, which I think is spectacular and amazingly appealing too, though I am not a form person. You've really formed very complex emotions and insights into a wonderfully coherent piece.ReplyDelete
Such chills from this, Hedge. Truly wonderful. I loved your note too. I have not read Mitchell's one book (imagine, one such book), but I appreciate what you say about how the film must be a disappointment. You nail it with those final lines. Wow. Yet that one scene in the film when the camera pans back while Scarlett walks among the wounded and dying soldiers is a remarkable image of war that I will never forget. It may not do justice to war (justice to war?), or to what Mitchell wrote, but there is a sliver of its terror in it. Marvelous work here.ReplyDelete
Thanks Ruth. Yes, she wrote it to 'keep busy' while recovering from a car crash, and won a Pulitzer with it. *sigh* And as I say above to Karin, that is one of the two scenes in the film, so cinematically perfect, that sticks in my mind also, as the camera slowly pans out to that acreage of dead and dying. A sanitized, romanticized, but still vivid capture of war.Delete
GWTW... I have read the book three times and have the first paragraph memorized... What a gifted writer, Margaret Mitchell. Olivia de Havilland is possibly the only actor that stands the "test of time". Vivienne Leigh was wonderful in it, but "Street Car Named Desire" is my favorite of her movies. Leslie Howard didn't want to play the part of Ashley, but he did so because he was promised another role he wanted (which the studio never honored) and Clark Gable... well, he should have tried for the accent. The movie was groundbreaking for its time, but it is dated now, sad to say.ReplyDelete
With all that said, I do like watching it every now and again... but the book has an honored place on my bookshelf... right next to "Roots"! :)
...and brava! on the couplet form... I attempted it and haven't succeeded yet.ReplyDelete
The form is a bit of a bear, I agree. ;-) And all this talk about the movie is really making me want to see it again! Sadly I don't own the book any more--may need to get a copy.Delete
I love the book...With all its Civil War drama I got several chuckles. I love the opening to the book where Scarlett is outraged that the old ladies have the privilege to belt and fart at whim. Love your poem and pondering the thoughts of the author when viewing her book on film.ReplyDelete
Meeting two challenges in one, my dear! You are more clever than Scarlet when she made a fancy dress out of the old drapery! (Ever see the skit on the Carol Burnett Show or am I dating myself?!!)ReplyDelete
They remake books into lives, and now you have remade the movie into a poem. All in a framed couplet structure, to boot. Bravo!ReplyDelete