Steiner, Max (1888–1971)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Following the introductory credits and “Overture” in Gone with the Wind, scrolling text on the screen describes both the location and the scenario:
There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South . . . Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow . . . Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave . . . Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind . . .1
The non-diegetic chorus hums a wordless rendition of “Dixie” as accompaniment, not to signify the supernatural, but instead to provide a context of time and place.
Later in the film Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) goes to see Melanie Wilkes (Olivia de Havilland) on her deathbed. Wordless chorus, like the voices of angels, sounds in the background as they talk. The somber mood and the sense of lament represented by the chorus are quite different from the earlier, opening scene.
The final scene of the movie includes dramatic vocalization as Scarlett has a flashback of ghosts from her past, reminiscent of the flashback scene in the third act of Mascagni’s Iris before the Sun makes all well. Scarlett exclaims, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” The chorus then erupts in a wordless rendition of the main melodic theme as the movie comes to an end, expressing hope and renewal, a sense of final spiritual transformation.
(Nauman 2009, 237–38)
[Disc 1, 0:06:03–0:06:45] This clip is well parodied to great humorous effect in the opening of the movie Tobacco Road (1941), in that it contains a hummed version of “Dixie,” and also the phrase “gone with the wind” in the voice-over narration.
|Rhett and Scarlett's Riverboat Honeymoon|
[Disc 2, 1:04:59–1:05:28]
|Death of Melanie Wilkes|
[Disc 2, 1:49:29–1:51:20] This scene is very similar to the death of Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1939), since in both cases dramatic vocalization is used to express a sense of lamentation, and also spiritual transcendence.
[Disc 2, 1:59:22–2:00:43]
1 “Credits and Foreword,” Disc 1, Gone with the Wind, special ed. DVD, directed by Victor Fleming (1939; Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2004).