The Making of Gone With the Wind at the Harry Ransom Center

DSC00782I was about 10 years old (maybe younger?) when my mom took me to see Gone With the Wind. It was my first time ever seeing the movie, I believe that the Alamo Drafthouse was doing a special screening of it. I remember on the drive over, my mom told me about how it was such a classic (and even older than she was – a concept deemed completely unfathomable and impossible by my elementary-aged mind) and basically just generally prepared by for the movie. My memory of the actual viewing is pretty hazy, but two things from that initial exposure to the epic are ingrained in my memory for all time:

  1. I felt like I was a bear emerging from hibernation after exiting the theater. The [nearly] four-hour-long movie was seriously too long for MiniManda (my new nickname for the childhood version of myself) to handle. For some reason, this feeling has stuck with me all this time – every time I think of Gone With the Wind, my first thought is of emerging into blinding sunlight after being trapped in a cave for ages.
  2. I immediately declared Scarlett O’Hara as the most vile character ever written.

Yeah, I loathed her. I thought she was the most dreadful, manipulative, unstable, outrageously vain, and uncaring character ever shown on the big screen. And I was right… but I definitely missed the things that draw the audience to Scarlett time and time again – particularly, her extraordinary desire and ability to not only survive, but thrive (all while remaining extremely well-dressed, might I add).

DSC00789 DSC00790Now, fast forward a few years. I now have a real soft-spot for this movie: the grandeur and attention to detail definitely won me over shortly after that first initial screening.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the original release of Gone With the Wind (the movie, not the book). To celebrate this momentous occasion (as well as generally revel in the awesomeness of one of America’s most beloved – and controversial – classics), the Harry Ransom Center in Austin (on the University of Texas campus) curated an amazing exhibit chronicling the making and release of Gone With the Wind. Including original production notes (the search for Scarlett, obtaining the movie rights, production schedules in a pre-Excel era), set designs, costumes, and so much more, the exhibit is seriously breathtaking in its depth and completeness.

DSC00793 DSC00800My favorite parts of the exhibit were the costume displays – including both original costumes and replicas, the costumes were all amazing (in the most literal sense of the word). It should come as no surprise that this girl-girl loves a big, full dress. Yes, I own a hoop skirt. No, I cannot fit through a door while wearing it. Evidently, I really missed my era. #BornInTheWrongCenturyProblems

The Harry Ransom Center is free to all who visit and is open daily (10:00AM – 5:00PM, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday; 10:00AM to 7:00PM on Thursday; and noon till 5:00PM on Saturday and Sunday)… but be sure to visit soon: The Making of Gone With the Wind exhibit ends on January 4th, 2015. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

Have you ever seen Gone With the Wind? What do you remember from your first exposure to the movie?