One of the curious things about being a parent is that it raises a question about movies which really clarifies how good one thinks it is: is it worth showing this movie to my child?
Curiously, despite Gone With the Wind being one of the all-time classics, when I ask myself this the answer is a resounding “no”.
There’s only one scene in it that I can think of which is worth passing on (the first, roughly, 15 seconds of this clip):
Unfortunately, this scene lacks most of its power if you haven’t seen the movie, so I don’t know that I’ll even pass this on. It would probably be more effective to just tell the kids about it.
This is not to say that I think Gone With the Wind is not a good movie. It is a good movie. I think that my problem with it is that its main theme is that if a person makes relentlessly bad decisions and suffers misfortune, they will have neither the consolation of virtue nor the consolation of pleasant circumstances.
Which is certainly true.
It’s just one of those things which seems to me obviously true and if you try to orient your life such that your primary concern is to be a saint, you hardly need this symbolically represented for over four hours. It is very true that the wages of sin are death. At the end of the day, I think my reaction is because (using the American generic “you”): if you need a movie like Gone With the Wind to realize that the wages of sin are death, you’ve got bigger problems than (I hope that) my children have. This could, of course, be wishful thinking on my part.
On the other hand, a lot of great art in the last 200 or so years was people rediscovering what, as G.K. Chesterton put it, they could have learnt in their catechism—had they ever read it. Much of the power of it was people asking the question, “but perhaps it is true after all?”
Just in a very limited sense.