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Frankly Dear, I don't Give a Damn
Love in Hard Times--A tough Act (Lessons from Gone with the Wind)
The film, Gone with the Wind remains a mild obsession of mine, although I'm neither a southerner nor a Civil War buff. It's the undeniable, unforgettable drama of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O' Hara that draws me to this classic, 1939 Oscar Winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and much more.
My short essay, however, is not about the film's screenplay nor is it about Scarlet O' Hara's complex character consisting of personalities that are simultaneously strong, weak, stubborn, romantic, lovable and hateful. Ditto for Rhett Butler's personality as depicted in this 3-hour film that is captivating at every twist and turn of the film. Three hours seem like 60 minutes.
The classic dance, the tug of war enacted in this movie as "love" strikes me (principal writer, The Write Word on Hub Pages) as all too familiar. Rhett is crouching behind a couch when Scarlet unabashedly admits her love for Ashley and he declares that he is going to marry Melodie. Passionate Scarlet throws something tangible (a vase?) at Ashley but misses the target. As Ashley walks out, a charming, grinning Rhett Butler walks in--by design or perhaps sheer coincidence.
Is it the strong-willed nature of each of the two stars that causes the tension and conflict that makes this three (3) hour film not just endurable, but captivating and enjoyable? It's the same stubbornness that casts this unforgettable relationship on the silver screen that makes it immortal. Neither am I film critic nor a psychotherapist but armed with an MBA, I find many valuable business lessons in this film. I'm not referring to resilience and persistence demonstrated by both Rhett and Scarlett at different turning points in the movie but risk-taking qualities, salesmanship--they're all beautifully enacted in this classic film, Gone with the Wind.
The cliché, the oft quoted line, "Frankly Dear, I don't give a Damn" is a response to Scarlett's "Oh Rhett, What shall I do? Where shall I go? Is he a dispassionate, reckless businessman or his wife's empathetic husband who offers her support just when she needs it? You be the judge! It's a domestic scene and so we can't label Rhett a "businessman" in this context. Perhaps he's just ruthless. Is that what a stubborn, wilful, wild chlld of a woman is drawn to? Especially, if she can't have Ashley (hah).
She surrenders, marries him and has a lovely child named Bonnie. Bonnie, like her mother, is wilful, stubborn and defiant--all that in a child who is three-years old, perhaps six at best. The pivot is the fall of this child off the horse that she is racing. The pivotal fall that kills Bonnie (can't find the right words to express this; maybe you can help) is also the turning point in Scarlet's and Rhett's relationship.
Not only has Scarlett changed, but so has Rhett. Nothing is the same, after they lose Bonnie. Yet a part of me (and you) keeps wishing that Rhett's kind side would shine through when Scarlet needs him. But no, that wouldn't have worked. Scarlett, in my humble opinion, would not have married a man who would've been kind to her (with the exception of Ashley; she would have brought out the "mean side" of him as well). Another dialog (reproduced below) between this star-crossed couple seems to give away the film's conclusion, before it is spelled out:
Scarlett: What do you want?
Rhett: I'll tell you, Scarlett O'Hara, if you'll take that Southern-belle simper off your face. Someday, I want you to say to me the words I heard you say to Ashley Wilkes: 'I love you!'
Scarlett: That's something you'll never hear from me Captain Butler as long as you live. (Now, why couldn't she have said those three words to him?!!!)
Rhett: It seems we've been at cross purposes, doesn't it? But it's no use now. As long as there was Bonnie, there was a chance that we might be happy. I liked to think that Bonnie was you, a little girl again, before the war, and poverty had done things to you. (Do you sense his love for Scarlett? Isn't she a fool?)
She was so like you, and I could pet her, and spoil her, as I wanted to spoil you. But when she went, she took everything.
My darling, you're such a child. You think that by saying, "I'm sorry," all the past can be corrected. Here, take my handkerchief. Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief." (SOURCE: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0006054/quotes)
Rhett: I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Scarlett: No! I only know that I love you. (So sad; the tables were turned. No why can't he just let go and give her his love unconditionally? Ok...real life; let's snap out of it; You've got to have some tension in the plot after all that has happened in this couple's life.)
Rhett: That's your misfortune.
Insights on making relationships work? You bet! See your therapist for details.
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