Hot-tempered, self-centered, part-Irish Southern beauty Scarlett O'Hara, played to the teeth by Vivien Leigh, loves the gentlemanly Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). Smug, rebellious, honest, blockade-running profiteer Rhett Butler, portrayed gracefully and naturally by Clark Gable, loves Scarlett. Ashley, who is also in love with Scarlett, marries his genteel cousin Melanie (Olivia de Havilland) because he believes that their quiet similarities will create a better marriage than Scarlett's passion. Meanwhile, sparks fly between Rhett and Scarlett at their first encounter and continue throughout Scarlett's first two marriages. Scarlett and Rhett finally wed, but Scarlett continues to pine for her beloved Ashley. Set against the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction, this tragic love quadrangle offers the burning of Atlanta and fields of wounded Confederates as part of its lush scenery. Meticulous backdrops, glorious sunsets, numerous silhouettes, and the ultrasaturated Technicolor film create a hyperreal vision. The romantic score is every bit as lush and dramatic as the photography, borrowing folk melodies from the Old South to make the tragic war concrete. Heavy nostalgic tones pervade the often witty dialogue and larger-than-life charms and faults of the leads. GONE WITH THE WIND stands among the greatest epic dramas ever filmed.
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