Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Vivien Leigh (and Scarlett O'Hara)

I read "Gone with the wind" many years ago and watched its adaptation last year. And love it. Lately, for some reasons I have just watched again a few scenes in "Gone with the wind" and Vivien Leigh's 2 other films "Anna Karenina" (1948) and "Waterloo bridge" (1940).

Obviously and undeniably, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland were perfect for their roles, and Leslie Howard was also good, especially that Vivien portrayed perfectly Scarlett O'Hara and, as her determination and promise, made Scarlett "live as [Margaret Mitchell] described her in [her] brilliant book". But it's interesting indeed, to watch the screen tests and see how they were chosen. 

I am glad no one has dared to make another version of "Gone with the wind". If you compare between it and "Titanic", the 2 films with the love stories I love the most, we can see that no one will remake "Titanic" either (and even if some film director has courage, no producer will agree to pay for the project), because "Gone with the wind" won 10 Oscars (best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay, best cinematography- colour, best film directing, best art direction, best supporting actress, best actress plus 2 honorary awards), Titanic won 11 (best picture, best director, best art direction, best cinematography, best visual effects, best film editing, best costume design, best sound, best sound effects editing, best original dramatic score and best original song). Both are masterpieces, and evidences of the greatness of the American film industry, both will stand the test of time and be counted among the greatest films in history. Yet, "Titanic" is impeccable as a whole, regarding the acting alone it's possible that someone can surpass Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in playing Jack and Rose respectively, yet that is not the case for Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara. No one can top that. She is magnificent. As Vivien read the book, she knew she was Scarlett and tried to convince Selznick so. And she is Scarlett. The producer and film director were also right when choosing her. Scarlett is vain, self-centred, selfish, stubborn, blindfolded in love, spoiled, materialistic, opportunistic, practical, bitchy, she is charming, smart, clever, strong, independent, strong-willed, flexible, courageous, she loves her land, works hard, does everything to never be hungry again, to assure that no one close to her faces the threat of starvation or becoming a burden to someone outside the family... She is complex and multifaceted and she elicits the most contradictory emotions. And Vivien depicts her beautifully and flawlessly. 
1 of the best scenes in the film.
Scarlett, wearing a curtain-dress, visits Rhett and asks for money- 1 of the important scenes in the film that show Scarlett's personality.

However, as written above Scarlett O'Hara is a multifaceted person, with different shades, different sides, of course she is far too complex to be viewed in a couple of videos. I recommend watching the entire film, if you haven't done it. 
For fun: Atlanta Bazaar. Dancing with Rhett Butler.
And here, "Waterloo bridge", her personal favourite film, just 1 year after "Gone with the wind". I watched it last night. In this video, she dances. 
Sadly, I can't find any video of her in "Anna Karenina". 

The film itself isn't successful and acclaimed, and I can see why. Of the 2 hours and 13 minutes, the last 45 minutes are good. But I prefer her to Greta Garbo, who baffled me when I watched the film, because the 1935 version is the most famous and mentioned one, and Greta Garbo's performance in it is praised profusely, while I was strongly and deeply disappointed, or actually, shocked. And when I saw Greta Garbo's name in the list of actresses considered for the role Scarlett O'Hara, you can't imagine how glad  I was Greta Garbo had not been cast. 
Soon, I'll watch her other films. 
Such a beauty, a talent, an inspiration. 

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