Austin, Texas for Fantastic Fest I got an extra treat: a visit to The Making of Gone With The Wind exhibit
at the Harry Ransom Center and a personal tour by its curator of film, Steve
Wilson. Attendance has been strong since the opening day three weeks ago, which
I’m sure will continue through the January closing date. It’s well worth going
out of your way to see this exceptional display. Even having Steve’s elaborate
new book, The Making of Gone With The
Wind (University of Texas Press), doesn’t diminish the excitement of seeing
the rare, often unique materials on display from the University’s David O.
Selznick Archives. And there is no way to understate the impact of beholding
three famous Scarlett O’Hara gowns in person—all of them looking great, thanks
to the conservation team at the Ransom Center.
A number of
film scholars have dipped into the Selznick treasure trove over the years,
notably Rudy Behlmer for his invaluable Memo
from David O. Selznick volume and the late Ronald Haver for his majestic
tome, David O. Selznick’s Hollywood. Because
the producer saved all his letters, memoranda, paperwork, photos, production
sketches and paintings, and publicity materials, there is a never-ending
cornucopia of material to be examined and interpreted. (The Center houses many notable
collections, from the work of celebrated stage designer Norman Bel Geddes to
the papers and costumes of Robert De Niro, but Selznick’s is the largest
collection by far, filling 5,000 boxes!) Wilson and his team have done a
tremendous job of telling the story of how this film came about, step by step,
focusing on everything from fan letters regarding casting choices to William
Cameron Menzies’ elaborate visualizations of key scenes.
Here’s a promotional
video about the display:
And if you don’t think you’ll get to Austin over the
next few months, the Ransom Center has produced an impressive online exhibition
on its website that’s well worth touring. Just click HERE.