Liberty Theatre | Camas WA | Gone with the Wind 80th Anniversary
Gone with the Wind 80th Anniversary () Release Date: December 15th, 2019
Runtime: 4 hr. 0 min.
Genres: Program
Starring: Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil, Vivien Leigh, Evelyn Keyes
Based on Margaret Mitchell's bestseller, GONE WITH THE WIND was the most talked-about movie of its era. A sweeping epic on the grandest of scales, it quickly became both a blockbuster (it held the title of highest grossing film ever for 27 years) and an Oscar magnet, winning eight Academy Awards and two honorary awards, a record in its day. The combustible passion between Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) was hotter than the flames of Atlanta and defined cinematic romance for generations to come. Its impact on American culture was enormous and enduring.

But even when it premiered, GONE WITH THE WIND attracted controversy, with some critics condemning its celebration of the Old South and its depictions of African-American characters. Walter Francis White, executive secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, tried to shame actress Hattie McDaniel when she collected the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Mammy. McDaniel, noting that her own grandmother had worked on a Tara-style plantation, famously responded, "I would rather make $700 a week playing a maid than being one." The NAACP also conferred with producer David O. Selznick to modify certain scenes and remove racially charged language. Even so, the film drew protesters in many cities.

How should we view GONE WITH THE WIND on its 80th anniversary? Can we appreciate it as a legendary and beloved movie while acknowledging its sometimes problematic themes and attitudes? What does its enduring popularity say about us? How has its rosy view of plantation life, slavery, and the pre-Civil War South affected the public perception of that culture? These are topics worth thinking about.

Spectacular in scope and brimming with enormous emotions, GONE WITH THE WIND is very much a product of its time, and yet the same questions and concerns it raised decades ago are as relevant as ever today.