Gone With The Wind (1939)
Gone With The Wind, by director Victor Fleming, is widely known as the most popular American historical epic ever made. The film, for which MGM spent unprecedented millions to produce, is intensely controversial for its portrayal of race relations. On many levels the films can be compared and contrasted. Black actors won Academy Awards for their performances in both films: Hattie McDaniel won for her supporting role as Mammy and Denzel Washington for his supporting role as Trip fifty years later. Both productions received critical acclaim and broad support for their authentic sets and costumes. But each film's scope of story varies as drastically as its purpose: Gone With The Wind's stereotypical image of black slaves fails miserably while Glory's more encompassing portrayal of black Union soldiers does not. In a similar manner, Gone With The Wind is based on a fictional best-selling novel, yet Glory is based on little-known non-ficiton books and letter collections.
Ron Maxwell's Gettysburg, considered the time's greatest battle, presents the Civil War as a national tragedy without conceiving a clear villain. Like Glory, reenactment specialists were present for the enormous battle sequences and extremely fine detail paid to the period. Unlike Glory's dramatic tale, however, it failed to garner viewer interest in the theatres because its less biased approach of treating of both Yankees and Rebels with respect lacked emotional drama. Gettysburg has nothing to say about race: Glory has much to say about it. Yet both films celebrate military valor and vindicate militalry culture in significant ways.
Other Civil War films:
Birth of a Nation (1915), The General (1926), Operator (1934), So Red the Rose (1935), The Littlest Rebel (1935), The Red Badge of Courage (1951), Friendly Persuasion (1956), The Searchers (1956), Raintree County (1957), Horse Soldiers (1959), Journey to Shiloh (1968), Beguiled (1971), North and South (1985), The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns (1990), Dances with Wolves (1990), Cold Mountain (2003)
Other films directed by Edward Zwick:
Legends of the Fall (1994), Courage Under Fire (1996), The Siege (1998), The Last Samurai (2003)
Copyright (c) 2003, Todd Scurci and Denny Boyle, Undergraduates at Lehigh University.
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