Alex was housebound with strep throat this weekend, so I took advantage of his captivity to do something that I'd been threatening the boys with for months.
We watched "Gone With the Wind".
I'd seen it a couple of times in theaters years ago and when Elizabeth was in middle school she and a friend watched it at a sleepover; I think they fell asleep about 30 minutes into the Reconstruction and missed the steamier scenes with Rhett and Scarlett altogether. It seems that most middle school girls spend a couple of weeks somewhere along the way toting around the unabridged version of the book and sighing over Scarlett's adventures. It's probably worth a boatload of Accelerated Reader points and it can't hurt to tie in to a bit of American History class.
But that's girls. My sons were AWARE of the girls toting the book around, but showed no particular interest in reading it themselves. They knew the names of the battles, they knew the names of the generals, but Scarlett and Mr. O'Hara and Belle Watling were mysteries. The gracious plantation of "Tara" was confusing; they have a cousin with that name, but as a location? No. Even the name "Clark Gable" didn't bring any recognition.
So, we settled in for the epic story. It was every bit as splendid as I remembered, and they were quickly caught up in the characters, the places and the occasional lines of text that scroll across the screen. We took it in turns to read the text aloud.
I was amused to find that they knew exactly what a blockade runner was; after all, the Star Wars movies are full of them. They were astonished to hear Mr. O'Hara refer to "House Darkies" and "Field Darkies" and instruct Scarlett in how to properly relate to "inferiors". It is a credit to the society of which they are a part that such discussion shocks them. They were properly offended at the behaviour of the Carpetbaggers and I think appropriately recognized the good that was Melanie Wilkes. They are ahead of me there; when I read the book for the first time, in middle school, I couldn't bear "Melly". Her character appeals more to maturity, I suppose.
Alex and Isaac may never read the book, and that's fine. But someday, perhaps they will have middle school aged daughters, and when I exercise my right as a grandmother to ordain their reading material and send these imagined young ladies an unabridged copy of "Gone With the Wind", they may remember a bit of the magic. Maybe they will take 4 hours and watch the movie again, taking it in turns to read the scrolling text aloud.