Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Scarlett & Melly

Last night I caught most of one of my all time favorite films, Gone With The Wind, on TCM.  (They're doing a Vivien Leigh feature this week...)  I haven't seen it in several years, and haven't read the book in as many.  This is a film that I saw for the first time when I was about 10 years old, possibly younger.  Sitting wide-eyed on my grandmother's couch on a Friday night, in awe that it was two (yes, TWO) whole VHS tapes long.  Ogling the costumes and wishing I could have one to play dress up in.  Sighing over Rhett Butler and his dashing ways. Falling madly in love with the character of Scarlett, and vowing to be just like her when I grew up...


Fast forward to adulthood, life experiences, and a shifting filter and the way I have come to view both the book and the film has changed so drastically.  I watch it now with sweet nostalgia for those nights at grandma's house.  I can still smell the dippity-doo she used as she rolled her hair in front of the TV.  I can hear the microwave popcorn popping in the oven for our intermission treat.  Yet, I don't still wish to be just like Scarlett.  I see now how warped and twisted a character she really is.  I can see how she is a weak woman, and only has a veneer of strength to disguise her weaknesses.  It is her nemeses/best friend/sister, Melly, who I most admire now that I've become an adult/wife/mother/best friend/sister.  I used to watch Melanie and wonder at how naive she was over what was really going on in her life.  Now I watch and see that she is almost a reverse of Scarlett...a woman who appears to be weak, soft, yet at the core-as strong as steel.  I believe that she understands everything, understands that the humans in her life that she loves are all flawed; yet she believes in unconditional love, and practices it, no matter the cost to herself.  I can only hope to be as strong in my core beliefs as the character that Mitchell wrote is in her own.  Now I understand that literary/film characters are simple outlines of real life, so Melanie is not a fully fleshed-out person (nor is Scarlett), but she is a closer approximation to what I'd like to be someday.  You know, when I grow up.


Maybe that is the real reason my totally rockin grandma let me rent GWTW every weekend for years on end when I spent the night.  Maybe she wanted me to let those lessons unfold over time.  She wasn't the type to force lessons on us anyhow-she preferred life to show them to us.  Just as they did Scarlett & Melly...



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