on April 3, 2012
Having enjoyed more than a few PBS American Masters programs (my fav is prob the one on Sam Cooke) & read GONE WITH THE WIND many years ago, and being cognizant that the 900+ page epic was its author's only novel, I made a point of watching this AM offering, which premiered April 2, 2012. As one soon discovers, the subject of MARGARET MITCHELL: AMERICAN REBEL may not have produced the body of work to rival that of other AM artists, but she had a personality and a(n early) life that could rival those of any of them, especially when one considers that she was a woman who came of age in the Deep South during the "Roaring Twenties".
The examination of her childhood was particularly interesting as, among other things, a certain event prompted Mitchell's mother, Mary Isabel "May Belle" Stephens, a suffragette, to decide to clothe her daughter in slacks - rather than dresses or skirts - from that point on; Mitchell was told many stories by her Georgian relatives about the events of the Civil War, stories so glowing about the Confederacy that it was several years before she learned that the South had lost; the many ways that she expressed her creative side (though this did not include reading great works of literature that her well-educated mother wanted her to); and her ambivalent relationship with May Belle, the most important influence in her life, who nutured Margaret in a caring, but cold and distant manner. Given the above, it's not surprising that Mitchell quite often behaved in an "unlady-like" manner and was attracted to professions then largely practised by men.
Another interesting theme of this doc is Mitchell's take on black-white relations, sometimes seeming to be way ahead of her time and other times seeming to be very much a product of her era and Southern upbringing. These inconsistent views were also evident in her first and only novel, GONE WITH THE WIND, published in 1936 (the doc also delves into the unusual events that led to its publication), her reaction to criticisms as to how she handled the "race issue" in it, and how that issue swirled around the film adaptation of the book. However, as Mitchell did not write any more novels and as she only lived 'til the age of 48, AMERICAN REBEL wraps up relatively quickly after examining the film's reception.
Like other American Masters offerings, this one features many archival photos and video, contains many "dramatic re-enactments", and has its share of talking heads, the overwhelming majority of whom are Mitchell biographers and scholars. Unfortunately, since she was born way back in 1900, did not have children, and pretty much avoided the spotlight after the movie's release (not only to enjoy her privacy, but also to tend to her ailing second husband), there weren't a whole lot of people who knew her well still alive to have been interviewed for this piece. Nonetheless, AMERICAN REBEL turned out to be one of the more entertaining AM programs and its subject one of the more unique and lively ones.
Executive Producer and Writer Pamela Roberts. Narrated by Harry Prichell. This 1 disc, 60 minute dvd is subtitled.
on March 5, 2016
I saw this on PBS and bought it for my granddaughter-in-law for Christmas as she is a Civil war buff. I don't know if she liked it, but I thought it was terrific. There was so much I didn't know about the author of Gone With the Wind....I'm sure we will not be able to see that movie very soon, given the PC climate we live in, so get this and copy of the film SOON.
on November 5, 2014
I saw this documentary on PBS a few months ago and enjoyed the personal history of Ms. Mitchell. I wondered why she really did not stay in the spotlight, even after her success with one of my favorite novels, "Gone With The Wind." Great documentary.
Wow! This documentary on Margaret Mitchell, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Gone With the Wind, is absolutely the best documentary of her I have ever seen. And I've been a huge fan of Gone With The Wind since I was little. It is so well done, with details that I have never known before. Including details about her relationship with her Mother, her first love, and her secret financing of scholarships for African-American doctors. It includes lots of interviews with some very knowledgeable biographers of Margaret Mitchell and even some interviews with some acquaintances of hers. It explores the relationship between Margaret and her housekeeper who would answer the phone with "No, we don't know what happened to Scarlett . . ." True to the Southern woman writer motif, Margaret was a high society gal who rebelled against the confines of that society. She wrote only one novel and would go down in history as the author of the best-selling novel of the 20th century. This documentary explores all facets of Margaret Mitchell in excellent detail. With the result being a breathtaking film, second only to Gone With The Wind, itself.