Gone with Blacks???
The other night, I watched a documentary on the filming of Gone with the Wind on TCM. I must admit, I am a geek when it comes to creative documetaries. I watched the Rodgers/Hart/Hammerstein American Masters, at least 3 times, and I am not a fan of musicals. I just simply adore the creative process, I love to hear about the dilemmas, the ah-ha moments, the negotiations and the internal drama that is implicit in creating the great artistic piece that stands the test of time. As a black woman, watching the documentary is bitter sweet at the very best. Gone with the Wind is where the first black woman walked away with an Oscar, a feat that nearly took 52 years to repeat. That alone, is sort of astonishing and a really sad indictiment of our film industry. I read the Hattie McDaniel biography and came away really understanding,what that award meant and didnt meant to Ms. McDaniel. What was fascinating to me in watching this documentary, is how little blacks were mentioned at all, including Hattie McDaniel. I knew from her biography that she had to screen test for the role, against another well known black actress at the time but there was no focus on her casting at all. In some ways, I could have overlooked it, in favor of the Clark Gable and Vivan Leigh but Scarlet's sisters were given screen time and there roles were not nearly as important as Hattie's was. In just a little side note, she did WIN THE OSCAR" that should have at least given 5 minutes to her story. There was a about 3 min dedication to Butterfly McQueen, who actually cried during the scene where she was being beaten by Scarlet. She asked that she not be hitten so hard, and the director George Cukor was incensed and said that he was the director. I would hate to imagine that in that room, the sense of irony of the location and time period of slavery could not have been lost on everyone? I can only imagine what that day was like for her on that set. In relating the impact of the film on Atlanta and the "pride" that people of the South felt during the filming, I couldnt helped but be disgusted. Slavery wasnt a little nuisance, that Lincoln help to right, it was a systematic destruction of a people. People's basic human rights was reduced to that less, than a vegetable crop. Black women, if they were walking the road was basically the property of any man who wanted to violate her. There was no law to protect a black woman from rape, especially if her assailant was a white man. Black men were considered bucks to create more off spring to work in the fields. The social and economic effects on the backs of black peoples continue to ripple in our society today. There is absolutely nothing romantic about legalized torture. The clothing, the homes, the societies carried a certain charm but it was with the flesh of black people they were able to attain that status, it was the second holocaust that this country withstood, after the Native peoples. I respected David Selsnick's ambition, drive and committment. It is the sort of story that makes creative people everywhere tinge with anticipation and hope for thier own Gone With The Wind situation. I think Vivian Leigh was a joy to watch and a percursor to her real tour de fore in StreetCar. With all that said, I think that to completely rewrite history ,especially more than 50 years after the film release and to have no sense of historical analysis is a real shame to everyone.
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9/24/2010 03:25:38 am
I love "Gone With The Wind". I can appreciate everything from the story line, to the costumes, to the grandeur of its undertaking and filming technique. But in order for me to appreciate it, I really had to separate my feelings of what that time in history meant for me, and remind myself that things have changed.
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An Actor/Director sharing her thoughts on creativity in this crazy metropolis, New Yawk Citay.