What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this epic drama, which is widely considered one of the top movies of all time, would never be rated G by today's standards. The film centers around the Civil War-torn South and includes several scenes of war-related violence, such as wounded soldiers dying, and Scarlett O'Hara shooting a Union deserter. The sexuality isn't as overt as in contemporary movies, but it's still pervasive, as Scarlett is clearly a bold, sexually attractive woman who manipulates men with her looks. Additionally, there are several kisses (a few very passionate ones), a scene that implies a husband has forced his wife to go to bed with him, and even the inclusion of a minor character who is a good-hearted "lady of the night." The alcohol and cigar use is also frequent, although mostly because there are so many parties in the movie. Parents should be aware that the depiction of African Americans is problematic and stereotypical -- the slaves seem to actually enjoy their lot and are either superficial and ignorant or fussy and smothering. It may concern some parents that the Confederate South is portrayed as having been a place of gentility and charm.
  • Families can talk about how the Civil War is portrayed via the character of Scarlett O'Hara. How does the war affect her way of life? Does living through war change her personality, or does she remain the same throughout?
  • Scarlett is married several times for different reasons. Was marriage her only option at the time? What is different about her marriages to Charles, Frank, and then Rhett? Which of her marriages means the most to her and why?
  • Melanie is Scarlett's opposite in most ways. How do their personalities, values, and behavior differ? Why does Melanie forgive Scarlett over and over again?
  • How are African Americans depicted in the movie? Would the portrayal of Civil War-era slavery be different if this 1939 movie were remade today?
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