Can I Live at Tara Please?

Published March 8, 2013 by jrm17

So the snow came (sort of) and melted, meaning technically we didn’t get stuck inside.  Nevertheless, Mom and I spent the day as if it were a snow day anyway.  We ate leftovers and junk food and lazed around…after I did my interview and some homework of course.  That led to us spending the evening watching Gone With The Wind.  I’ve got to say that it just might be one of my favorite movies even though I am glad I read the book first.

As soon as the movie started, I liked that the dialogue was basically taken straight from the book.  It took me a few weeks to finish the book, but I do remember that Scarlett told the Tarleton twins that if they kept talking about the war, then she would scream, and she would just go inside and shut the door on them.  I thought it was really funny and knew from the beginning that I was going to love Scarlett.  There were a few other times that I picked up on things being taken directly from Margaret Mitchell’s pages.

However, I found myself liking the book more because things Scarlett said in the movie were actually her thoughts in the book.  I know it’s impossible to hear her thoughts on screen without a voice-over, but I simply liked her inner thoughts being just that instead of having her talk to herself about it.  There were a few other things I liked better in the book, too–not that I didn’t like what I saw on screen, though.

If you have read the book first, then you really understand the relationships between Scarlett and those around her better than you do in the movie.  I thought that it took a little bit away from the plot, but it’s completely understandable considering the movie is already almost 4 hours long and the book is almost 1500 pages.  The place where I noticed it the most was with Scarlett and Miss Melly.  If I’m completely honest, Melly is actually my favorite character after Scarlett, and I really admire her because she’s a lot of good qualities that I am not.  You don’t really get the full affect in the movie.  You know that Melly loves Scarlett unconditionally and that they become friends, but without the details from the book, it’s not the same.  They actually become sisters after going through the turmoils they face together during and after the war.  I don’t really think it happens until Scarlett helps Melly give birth to Beau.  From then on out, though, it’s a sisterhood.  I don’t know how to explain it to someone who hasn’t read the book, but Scarlett loves Melly if you can believe it.  She loves Melly more than she loves anyone except for maybe Rhett and Bonnie.  Melly, being the kindest person in the world, would do anything for Scarlett and could never think poorly of her.  It’s a truly beautiful relationship to which only Margaret Mitchell’s words could give complete justice.

Scarlett, in general, isn’t exactly the same person as she is in the book, and I think part of that is because the movie had to cut a good deal of detail out and because we can’t have her thoughts as easily.  I never thought she was a terrible person in the book as Atlanta and her sisters do.  As a reader, you understand why she does everything she does.  My mom says that she understands everything as well as I do and doesn’t think badly of Scarlett so maybe my problem is that it’s not spelled out as clearly.  You don’t see the internal struggle that our heroine actually faces when she makes decisions that might not be the best.  The time in the story that it’s most apparent is in her marriage to Frank Kennedy.  She really does have a good reason to steal him from Suellen.  It’s more than just Suellen is a huge biatch, which really isn’t seen enough during the movie because I absolutely hate that girl.  It’s all to save Tara, which is much more dramatic and important than it appears.  Also, she’s not such a terrible wife to him.  There are times when she is a really good wife; it’s just her fear of being poor and hungry again drives her to work as a woman shouldn’t have during that time.  Plus, Rhett said he would’ve killed Frank anyway the night he died just so he could marry Scarlett in the book.

There are other small nuances that are not as vivid that make it good but not as great as the novel.  We don’t get to see Scarlett’s transition as a mother.  My mom picked out the same time in the movie as I did in the book for when she thought Scarlett started being a stronger person, but she didn’t see her change as much.  I don’t think Scarlett was a bad mother to Wade: She just had a lot to worry about at the time, and poor little Wade got the brunt of things.  Ella just was never meant to be Scarlett’s child.  They were too different, but Bonnie showed how she’d learned from raising Wade.  Bonnie may have been her favorite, but she also exemplified how her mother became a strong lady.  Her relationship with Ashley wasn’t the same either.  I don’t think she ever loved Ashley.  I think she loved the idea of Ashley and her feelings remained throughout the story out of habit.  Nonetheless, Ashley does lead her on a lot.  He tells her he loves her and admires her and all that jazz.  Scarlett holds on because it’s who she is.  I feel like there’s a definitive change in her feelings seen in the book.  There’s clearly a transition from her “loving” him to her just loving him as an old friend.  You never really see that in the movie.  Maybe it’ll be better seen in Scarlett, when she wishes she would’ve let him fall in Miss Melly’s grave.

Overall, I will agree with everyone that it’s a brilliant movie.  I don’t care how long it was because it’s the best story ever written.  If you can separate the two in your mind, then the movie is just about the best movie ever and the book is just about the best book ever.  (It’s certainly replaced any book I have ever called my favorite in my heart.)  But if you must compare the two, then the book is the clear winner.  I’m already into Scarlett, and all I can say is that I hope they show what a horrid person Suellen is because I cannot stand her.

P.S.  My favorite scene is where Mammy shows Rhett her red petticoat, which I didn’t find as funny in the movie as I did the book, but I’m really hoping when she asks him to make sure she’s buried in it during Scarlett is just as funny.

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