Victor Fleming's Gone With the Wind is a sweeping Civil War epic that follows the life of the insatiable Scarlett O'Hara. The film's elaborate sets, rich costumes, striking technicolor, and beautiful score have entertained audiences for over sixty years.
Like Birth of a Nation, Gone With the Wind is set in the South before, during, and after the Civil War. One of the most famous scenes of the movie is when Scarlett rips down the green curtains at Tara plantation and instructs Mammy to make her a dress. It's interesting to note the similarity between Scarlett's actions and that of the youngest Cameron sister in Birth of a Nation. Both women were members of the genteel southern society. Scarlett changed her clothing to try to get money from Rhett, while the Cameron sister wanted to look presentable for her brother's homecoming; but there is no denying that both women had the desire to look as if their gentility had not been affected by the war.
Scarlett O'Hara is a southern belle living on Tara plantation. At first, she takes an attitude that the land means nothing to her, which her father warns against. During the war, Scarlett learns the value of the land when she returns to it. Destitute, she takes to working the land. The ravages of the war have a taken a toll on the South and Tara plantation. Scarlett laments in one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again." The artistic quality of the scene is breathtaking. Scarlett stands in the field lit by the orange and pink hues of the sun, a tree to the right shows the barren leftovers of war. As the camera pans out Scarlett becomes a silhouette against the colorful sky. She is shot from the ground at first, making her seem larger than life, with her fist raised in a heroic stance. As the camera pans out farther, she becomes a small figure in the vast land that will ultimately mean more to her than anything else in the world. This scene, like so many others in the movie, would not have had nearly the same dramatic effect if it had not been shot in technicolor.
Color also plays an important role in the burning of Atlanta. Throughout the beginning of the film, the intense colors create pleasant reactions to the action of the movie. The burning of Atlanta is a particularly fiery scene that creates suspense. As Rhett and the women try to escape the burning city, the entire screen becomes inundated with hues of red and orange. The shots alternate between the carriage trying to make its escape and the boxes of explosives the fire is about to reach. As the suspense builds, pieces of flaming material fall around the carriage. Rhett covers the horse's eyes and leads everyone to safety as a building engulfed in flames begins to fall and the explosives ignite. It is truly a wonderful action sequence.
In the closing scene of the film, Scarlett is sitting on the steps of her house crying over Rhett, who has just left her. A closeup of her reveals a tear-stained face that comes alive as she speaks, " Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day." The picture then fades to another shot of Scarlett in silhouette with Tara plantation in the background, lit by the fading sun. This majestic shot is perfect for the end, as it brings Scarlett full circle, back to the beginning at Tara plantation.