The movie Gone with the Wind (1939) is considered the most beloved, popular and of everlasting relevance. It has won several Oscar awards in 1939. Produced by David O Selznick, and directed by Victor Fleming, the film was released a few months after WWII began in Europe. It enabled the American viewers to identify with the war and its theme of survival. It was based on a novel written by Margaret Mitchell about civil war and reconstruction in America. Producer, David O Selznick had obtained the movie right to Mitchell’s novel in 1936 for $50,000. The renowned film was shot in Technicolor which was used very rarely in those times.
The historical classic movie of the Old South during civil war period boasts of an eternal cast in a timeless, classic tale of love-hate romance. The movie covers the various romantic pursuits of the resolute heroine Scarlett OHara, against the background of historical events. Ashley, the man she loves marries her cousin, Melanine. She finds it difficult to find love during the civil war years and is forced to seek shelter for herself and her family in the plantation Tara. She defends it against union soldiers, carpetbaggers and even against starvation. Scarlet marries Rhett Butler but the marriage fails due to her indifference towards him. She again returns to Tara.
Cinematography is the art of making camera and lighting choices when recording photographic images for the cinema.Techniocolour was not widely used when the film Gone with the Wind was being filmed. Moreover, it carried several disadvantages. Selznick borrowed all the seven heavy, cumbersome cameras of the Technicolor Corporation for shooting. Each picture had colour consulant who had the power to reject any colour scheme she felt was incompatible with colour cinematography.
Moreover, the technical advisers, who were supposed to assist the cinematographers, had only worked with black and white film. Technicolor required double the amount of lighting for illumination of a scene. Selznick had previously worked with technicolour. He knew that it would be very important in giving Gone with the Wind visual richness needed for a classic drama.
Actually, Selznick wanted the film’s colour to have the same impact as the characters emotions. He was so determined in it and went to the extent of dismissing the first cinematographer, Lee Garmes, for choosing a colour scheme which Selznick thought was very much subdued. The next cinematographer, Ernest Haller, was more successful in obtaining more glowing effects. Selznick had realized that shadow formed an important part in a scene’s visual impact. He asked his colour consultant to shoot Scarlett and her father on the hill at Tara. With the farm gleaming brightly in the distance, the ensuing farming effect strongly emphasizes Gerald’s feeling about the significance of the land.
Selznick employs this silhouetting to the similar effect in the film’s final scene, when Scarlett stands on the same mount as she comes home to Tara. Another use of shadow is to highlight moments that focus on relationship between characters in the film. It is first used in the form of the frightening shadows Melanie and Scarlett cast on the walls of temporary hospital.
Later on, delivery of Melanie’s baby is lighted with silver streams of light. The darkness in the scene renders it more personal and gives it a powerful simplicity. (Fleming, 1939). The use of Matte painting was another technique which Selznick adapted from black and white film to Technicolour. When a shot is filmed, the area to be painted in afterwards is covered with black matte paint on a glass screen positioned in front of the camera.
Afterwards, a colour scale illustration of the omitted portion is shot to cover the blacked out area. Clarence Silfer, the special effects cinematographer of Gone with the Wind used the technique to complete a number of sets that were only partially finished. All, Outhouses, Tara’s side views, background vegetation, the train station roof, the twelve oak plantation, the decorations in the old armoury, some of the wounded soldiers lying on the ground in long shots, and an entire street of burning houses, were matte paintings
Editing is the art of establishing rhythm in film. People often does not notice or acknowledge the contribution of film editor. Major aspects of the editing of a film are created outside the editing room. The director, script writer, and photographer are also involved in editing. One of the responsibilities of the editor is to ensure that intentions of the scriptwriter have correctly been portrayed in the film. Hal C. Kern, the film editor of Gone with the Wind, won the Oscar award for film editing. One can clearly observe that smooth flow of events which are portrayed in the film. In this film, there is an outstanding use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood.
Production designer is the in charge of the film’s art department which consists of an art director, prop master, costume designer and a ser decorator. He works in close association with director, and director of photography to produce film’s feel and look by choosing the right shapes, colours and compositions for each shot. A production designer’s duties cover far beyond extending support because a movie is eventually a visual medium, its visual material is almost like another character, itself producing a mood and bringing out an emotional response from the spectators.
Production design involves lot of planning and the production designer should be able to strike a balance between his own creative vision with the film’s need for authenticity of place and time. Lyle Wheeler, the art director of Gone with the Wind, won an Oscar for his efforts in the movie.
Fleming, Victor. Dir. Gone with the Wind, (1939). Selznick I