My mother loved to watch, Gone With The Wind. It was her favorite movie. I can’t say that I ever understood what it meant to her. That was my failing as the perennial ‘late bloomer’. When I have seen it as of late it seems so blatantly obvious now. The frivolous nature of a young desirable girl. A seen of love based upon a foolish seen of infatuation. The fear of being left vulnerable and alone. The building of an inner resolve as a maturing woman to steel herself against any challenge. The opportunity that life provides her to prove her abilities and worth again all odds. Making her own way int he world despite the criticism of society. Discovering the true nature of love and friendship even if it seems too late in the game. And the value of home and the legacy of family that one has come from. All these qualities having their effect upon a young girl looking forward to the transition into womanhood.
She was nineteen when it appeared in theaters in 1940. I have to wonder if she viewed it first in the last preeminent movie palace still extent in the midst of the loop in Chicago? What disappointments and discoveries that lay ahead of her one might wonder if she expected? A world where war stole the possibility of finding a lasting love. The rise of career seeming to interject itself betwixt the chance for finding a home and raising a family. A brief and incidental marriage to a selfish boy that pretended to be a man leading to the disappointment and despair of never achieving the goal of harmony in motherhood. The tragic death of her mother and the subsequent loss of her father due to his grief and despair. And of course my father who in so many ways was a fit stand in for the real man in O’Selznick’s passion play. That special someone who had all the faults but at the core of it loved her and held her as the center of his universe. The most significant big budget extravaganza of her coming of age predicting in so many ways what became the challenges that she faced in the subsequent progress of her later life. How she must have viewed herself against the foil of the drama’s lead character at those many decisive junctures of her existence?
To view the film now is to catch sight of her at that tender age in the flickering darkness of the audience. A sight one rarely finds as a child of a woman that to them seemed the eternal archaic goddess known as ‘mother’. “January 17th, 1940.” To think of the date that she may have stepped into the lobby of some baroque movie palace fresh with anticipation to encounter the fresh celluloid telling her the tale of her future and destiny. How clever in hindsight for the doyens of Hollywood to fashion their plans to come within such clever intrigue. To show how a well-planned world conflict would affect the aspirations of the then contemporary iteration society coming of age and hint at how it would soon be transfigured. And in considering the subsequent ‘strum und drang‘ of this current time deposed. The players in the drama provided with both highs and lows and revealed as heroes or villains by their building legacy of reactions. The controversial aspect of the social incarceration of one and the effect of their inescapable lot in life ever-present as both tool and warning.
I have to wonder at the double edge sword the genius and the diabolical nature of those that power society so frivolously without the art form of painting the prospective progression of human life upon a screen? And then hangs it over the heads of the viewer by a thread for the rest of their existence. The audience aligning their lives to a mass hysterical narrative as opposed to finding their own way unassisted through the tangle wood of everyday chaos? Sitting here alone within the fading limelight of my own passing existence being the sole keeper of the long but now extinct narrative of my own kin I can only wonder further what the true natures of my own local players were? Their true identities reflected by the unspoken hopes and dreams that never were revealed . And somehow remained elusive never to come to pass! And how I might somehow in some small way further get to know them as they really once were.