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Casatron

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  1. Casatron

    Gone with the Wind

    I'm surprised this episode didn't at least touch on how much of a cinematic influence Gone With the Wind was for Star Wars. Inspired by the episode, I sat down this weekend and re-watched GWTW for the first time in over 20 years and probably felt about the same about it as Paul: I liked it, I was pulled in by the story, found the racist whitewashing to be a check on total enjoyment, and ultimately feel it should stay on the list but perhaps be demoted. But, one thing I could not get over was how much I saw the spiritual predecessor of Star Wars in this movie. Rhett Butler is Han Solo, 100%. And while Scarlett O'Hara and Leia Organa may be different types of characters, they are played with much of the same spirit. It is undeniable that the sharp, bickering chemistry between Rhett and Scarlett is a template for the same dynamic between Han Solo and Princess Leia. The dramatic swells of music and sunset cinematography when Scarlett and her father stand silhouetted in front of Tara feels like a descendant to the emotional crest of Luke Skywalker staring longingly at the setting twin suns of Tattooine. The film even opens with a vertically scrolling "crawl" dropping us into the world with enough perfunctory exposition to set the scene. Others have explored this relationship much more deeply, and apparently this is a well known influence on George Lucas. Once I Googled the comparison I was struck by a "how did I never notice this before!" moment when I saw the Gone With the Wind and Empire Strikes back posters put side by side. I'm probably late to the party on this observation, but nevertheless I found it fascinating as someone who has ignored Gone With the Wind for the better part of my life and yet spent a good portion of it enraptured by the galaxy far, far away. Other influences like "Hidden Fortress" and "Flash Gordon" are more obvious and thus brought up more often in discussions about what fed into the pastiche machine that is "Star Wars". Watching Gone With the Wind finally clicked many of the other pieces into place and crystallized my understanding of why Star Wars was so successful: On the surface it gave us something new and otherworldly, but in its bones it was classic cinema through and through.
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