Tuesday, August 26, 2014

HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT: Gone With The Wind (part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of this special edition of Hit me with your best shot. This week we looked at the second half of "Gone with the Wind". Many would agree that this section is less impressive than the previous one, as it's more concerned with the melodrama of the characters rather than the striking cinematography and art direction. There's one particular image that stands out to me though. It's one of those great character entrances.

Click below for my favourite shot...

This shot comes from the scene where Scarlett brazenly enters Melanie's party after her scandalous flirtation with Ashley. Last week I wrote about the cinematic power of fire and this week we get another strong motif from the colour red. In this instance, the costuming represents the perceived passion and lust that caused her to be scorned by the other ladies. As Rhett commands in the previous scene:

"Nothing modest or matronly will do for this occasion...and put on plenty of rouge. I want you to look your part tonight."

She's clearly been branded as a harlot, with a dress that's likely an homage to the character's name as well as the novel "The Scarlet Letter".

What really sells it though is Viven Leigh's fierce attitude. A far cry from the fake smiles and ladylike innocence of Scarlett's younger days, she enters as a confident woman. She knows she's making a statement and she owns it.

The image makes for a good comparison with one of my previous best shot choices. It shows the importance of body language when it comes to acting. Whereas Elaine Stewart (in "The Bad and the Beautiful) looks like a salacious maneater, Leigh is sexy but dignified. It shows how well she knows the character, since Scarlett is actually chaste throughout most of the film. It's this level of detail which makes "Gone with the Wind" such an enduring classic.