Recently, "12 Years a Slave" won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Based on a slave narrative by a nineteenth century black man, it is considered a very accurate depiction of antebellum slavery in the United States. "Gone With the Wind" won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1939. Based on a novel by a Southern based white woman, contemporary film critics consider it a less accurate depiction of slavery.
Starring the beautiful Vivien Leigh, "Gone With the Wind" is set just before, during, and after the American Civil War. Leigh plays Scarlett O'Hara, a self-centered Southern belle who is in love with the very formal Ashley Wilkes (played by Leslie Howard). At a lavish barbeque, she meets the rakish Rhett Butler (played by Clark Gable). Also at the barbeque, Ashley shares with Scarlett his decision to marry his distant cousin, Melanie. Accustomed to having everything her way, Scarlett is devastated by the prospect of not having the one man she covets. During the course of many plot turns triggered the outbreak of the war, she and Rhett become close, get married and have a child. They struggle to stay happy together after the wedding.
As noted above, "Gone With the Wind" is often considered weak in its depiction of American slavery. The filmmakers resort to stereotypes, and the white characters are depicted as far more benevolent to their slaves than history suggests they were. In one section, the Klu Klux Klan, a notorious white supremacist group, is given hero status.
Despite being historically inaccurate, the film is still worth watching because it features many great characters. Scarlett is a very interesting character since she is not likeable. She is often manipulative, selfish, and cruel. Yet audiences tend to root for her. Vivien Leigh on an Oscar for her amazing performance. Rhett is also a good character. Clark Gable brings a lot of charm and swagger to the role. There is strong chemistry between Leigh and Gable.
Although it is 4 hours long, "Gone With the Wind" is still a must-see for fans of classic films.