This is an adaptation of an essay of mine which I wrote for a class this past year. Personally, I prefer the novel over the film but please keep in mind that I STILL LOVE THE FILM.
A great source of inspiration for Hollywood has been in the adaptation of plays and novels. One of Hollywood’s greatest films from its greatest year, 1939, was adapted from Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel, Gone with the Wind. Through different modes, both media exhibit Scarlett’s will to survive, but the film does not record Scarlett’s character development as thoroughly as the novel. The novel gives her more depth because the reader has access to her inner thoughts. The film version of Gone with the Wind makes Scarlett appear more heartless than she is. This article will set out to prove that her full development as a character is stunted in the film because the viewer cannot know her thoughts. Instead, the film tries to communicate her thoughts through cinematography, montage, and colour. These techniques of the film medium are used to express Scarlett’s desires in moments of intense emotion, but the viewer misses out on knowing her specific opinion on certain events.
Close-ups are used throughout Gone with the Wind in moments of intense emotion to compensate for the loss of internal thoughts. One scene where the close-up lacks the detail of the novel is the most critical scene of all – when Scarlett admits to Rhett she has loved and depended on him all along but never realised it. The film closely follows the dialogue in the novel but neglects to give voice to Scarlett’s thoughts:
“She was thinking: ‘But Rhett is my soul and I’m losing him. And if I lose him, nothing else matters! No, not friends or money or – or anything. If only I had him I wouldn’t even mind being poor again. No, I wouldn’t mind being cold again or even hungry’” (Mitchell, 1019).
Had the film included this contradicting cry of woe, viewers who did not read the novel would have believed Scarlett’s confession. This statement is completely contrary to her character who vowed to “steal or kill” to avoid living through hunger and poverty (Mitchell, 421). The use of close-up simply does not convey this message. Vivien Leigh brilliantly portrays a woman who just lost her best friend, daughter, and husband in a short period of time, but the same sympathy the reader would have felt does not translate completely to the film. Film is effective in showing the viewers the woe in Scarlett’s face, but the camera cannot transcend flesh and reveal the pain in her heart.