Gone With the Wind: Taking It to Another Level
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There’s a character in the film Gone With the Wind that’s always neglected when the movie is discussed. A character that was never acknowledged during the Academy Awards ceremony. A character that isn’t even mentioned in the ending credits, but without which the film would be an ultimate flop. I speak of the staircase.

With its powerful yet subdued performance, the staircase could have easily overpowered the other actors. But its professionalism allowed the integrity of the film to hold sway. Its versatility and range is unparalleled as it takes on the roles of both an elegant stairway in a festive ballroom and a red-carpeted floozy in post-war Atlanta with equal ease.

The staircase is a key player in the scene when Scarlett and Rhett first meet. As Scarlett ascends the steps, she notices Rhett staring at her, his hand gently caressing the banister. She’s taken aback, confiding in her female companion that he’s looking at her like “he knows what I look like without my shimmy.” The staircase serves as a metaphorical barrier between them, adding to the suspense as Scarlett dramatically flounces up the stairs.

After Atlanta burns and Scarlett flees back to Tara, the staircase once again steals the show. The dead Yankee at the bottom of the stairs is a turning point in the film, revealing that Scarlett is capable of murder in order to survive. And when Melanie, weak and sick, dressed only in a thin muslin nightgown, descends the steps, dragging Charles’s saber to defend Scarlett, the solid performance of the staircase expresses the complexity and compassion of the scene in all its cinematic glory.

The defining moment for the staircase takes place when Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs to their bedroom. With each step, Rhett’s muscular arms tighten as he holds Scarlett closely to his chest. Her dainty feet sway delicately to the rhythm. This dramatic love scene would not have been possible without the staircase, whose majestic performance once more captures the depth and height of its signature role.

Tragically, the staircase continues to be delegated to the status of a minor player in this esteemed Hollywood classic. One can only hope that someday it will receive the accolades it deserves in cinematic history.

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