Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wince With the Wind

The audacity which propels anyone to tamper with a classic novel and movie masterpiece, and transform it into a musical version for the theater, is either a creative genius or a fugitive from the nut house. Why else would anyone reconstruct Margaret Mitchell's 1936 well loved novel Gone With the Wind, and the magnificently crafted David Selznick film of the same title in 1939 into song and dance, except to stun the audience in disbelief and suffocate them with unimaginable boredom. The sheer madness that brought this dreadful concept into actual production is perhaps surpassed only by the unembarrassed mediocrity of the music and lyrics performed on stage.

Audiences worldwide have watched the film more than once, for many, as much as a dozen times; and the visual images, characterizations, and story lines have been so profoundly engraved on the collective consciousness that seeing Rhett Butler break into a song just doesn't register well in the public imagination. And sweet and holy Melanie - weak and dying, but the tragedy of her death is trivialized when she bursts into a song on her deathbed! This is comical. It's as if the Joker came to life hypnotizing the crowd into a state of dumbness, then surrender their brains to make it into high cholesterol burgers.

Trevor Nunn's three and a half hour 4.5 million pounds Production has limitations that diminishes the majesty and intimacy that film can accomplish. The camera could depict the terror on Vivien Leigh's face when she sees the extent of wounded and dying soldiers in the streets; and as the camera pans out, the magnitude of the southern defeat is evident and irreversible. Or, depicting the awesome sight of the burning of Atlanta and close up on Scarlett's expression of determined selfishness and self-preservation. Theater has no means to project this realism. The pathetic stage scene of the burning of Atlanta resembled a backyard barbecue on New Year's Eve!

Critics have not been bowled over by the long winded yet distracting songs with forgettable melodies and hackneyed lyrics. The expected explosive chemistry between Scarlett and Rhett that could have saved the production didn't materialize. The towering drama, the physical presence, and the electrifying performances of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh - so vividly ingrained in the minds of audiences - cannot be recaptured, much less exceeded, in a portrayal where the intensity is interrupted by the inane lyrics of a song that has to be performed just to look different from the film. This is comparable only to Guy Smiley, a character on Sesame Street belting out the song Gone With the Wind while literally being blown away.

Fans of the film and the novel would do well to avoid this musical version. It would corrupt the beautiful memories and romantic attachments that have been nurtured through many years, tucked safely and securely in the area of the mind reserved for the most wonderful experiences of their lives. Replacing it with a burlesque version that should even have difficulty being shown on Saturday Night Live is an abomination. Apparently the producers and investors don't give a damn about these memories. And tomorrow is another day for them... to be ridiculed and laughed out of business.



Debbie said...

I hate remakes, they are never like the original (thus ORIGINAL), they are fakes. To mess with Gone With The Wind is a crime. In this case, "I do give a damn." ha

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

The Fitness Diva said...

The book was great. I read that thing a few times, many years ago.
The movie is never as good as the book, but the remake is pretty much ALWAYS a travesty!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

HI Fitness Diva,

Some films are remade and given a new twist like "The Italian Job" or "Batman Begins"; and they stand on their own merits and manage to transcend the "poor imitation" tag.

A musical is a different approach to a remake, especially if it's poorly conceptualized.And this particular musical of Gone With the Wind is like an Ed Wood production whose stars could not save it from its mediocrity. :-) --Durano, done!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hi Debbie,

There were remakes that were good, even better than their original counterparts like Ben Hur, which was a silent film with Ramon Novarro that was remade by MGM with Charlton Heston. Or even King Kong and Batman.

But to remake Gone With the Wind as a musical is simply...well... out of tune. And I agree, it's criminal! :-)--Durano, done!

April 25, 2008 11:55 PM

Kim said...

thanks for this critique Durano :)
I don't think I want to see Gone with the Wind's musical version...after reading this ;)
I think I'll be happy to live with the memories of the classic film instead :)
ps Ben Hur....what a great movie that was !!

durano lawayan a.k.a. brad spit said...

Hello Kim,

Critics who have sat through the entire three and a half hour presentation were bored by the dullness of the production. The talents of the lead actors were misplaced in this mindless concept; which is probably why the chemistry between them was absent.

I agree with you, I'd rather keep the images of the film version in my memory bank rather than to be jarred by the melody and lyrics of a mediocre composition and preposterous interpretation of a classic novel.

Ben Hur was a great film ...yes! :-) --Durano, done!