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wind chill factor

May 2, 2008

Caitlyn and I went down to the Campanil last Sunday and saw “Gone With The Wind.” And Caitlyn drove!

The theater was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it, so on some level I guess that’s good. In that audience, though, I’m always on the young side(!). And I often have trouble hearing the films there; the sound system has always seemed really poor. I’ve never wanted to say so, and especially after I read Mick LaSalle last Sunday in the Chronicle; he had yet another person writing to him saying people in the movies had poor diction, and he could hardly understand them half the time and it wasn’t his age, and Mick told him he’d believe that when twenty-year-olds started writing in saying they were having trouble hearing movies.

Of course, twenty-year-olds don’t always care if they can hear the dialogue. Anyway, on Sunday, Caitlyn brought it up on her own: she says she finds it really difficult to hear there; the words run together under the radar. So I think they have a problem with the sound.

What I wanted to say, though, is that Rick said at the beginning that they had opened the theater a few years ago with this film, and they were glad to be showing it again. I wanted Caitlyn to see it (she never had), for a variety of reasons. Partly I just like to support the Campanil, whatever they show. And it’s an iconic film, with so many classic scenes that have been infused into the culture, and a great film, in many ways, amazing for it’s time. I wanted to see if she actually knew anything about the Civil War! and, at her age, I wanted her to see the version of the South that it presented, just to know that such a perspective existed, and needed to be thought about critically—to put it mildly…

But really, I seriously question the choice of this film—not once but twice in a few years. Because, though it stands up as a film, it’s not one I can imagine many in a diverse community would be comfortable attending as entertainment. In other words, I think it should be getting hard to present this film just as an afternoon at the movies, without comment: the perspective is too twisted, and it too frankly excludes too many. There are all kinds of art and classic films to choose from, and I think it would be a good idea if future selections were made with an eye to the wider community.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2008 6:21 PM

    Do you know anything about Rick Carraher’s political views? He seems progressive enough. Who decides on the program content at the El Campanil?
    I’m wondering though… If the Campanil audience is predominantly composed of senior citizens (which I observed for myself recently at Man of La Mancha), it is because of the programming? Or is the programming based on the audience demographic? If more progressive/relevant programming were included, would that draw a younger crowd? Or is this town just not ready? I mean, can you imagine if they showed a film like Incident at Oglala??

    • May 3, 2008 10:56 PM

      You know, I’ve never gotten the slightest hint that there were reactionary social views involved, or anything like that. So I’m just assuming they show it because it’s a crowd-pleaser, and don’t think too much further about it. And I mean, I expected its retro aspect, but until the film actually came on, I hadn’t remembered all the details– the text set-up about the romance of the old South etc.
      I did like the line about “you know those Wilkeses always marry their cousins”– Caitlyn also thought that was pretty funny.
      I think it’s a two-way street: the programming and the audience. I mean, I think “seniors” go because they’re down there, and know about it– both from being at the center, and just from having lived here and knowing that part of town exists. The advertising is non-existent; I try to keep track and I missed “Man of La Mancha” just because I heard about it too late.
      I mean, I don’t expect them to go all edgy. Classic films are fun (though I’d like to see something, say, Persian?). But “Gone With the Wind” is now just classic in some very bad ways…
      I’d like to see “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”– I LOVE that movie!

      • May 3, 2008 11:19 PM

        I love classic films, too. But I get tired of the same old repertoire — whether it’s at the El Campanil or on Turner Classic Movies. I mean, aren’t there enough classic films for TCM to go an entire year without repeating one?
        But getting back to GWTW…I tried to sit through some of it a few months ago on TV, and found it gawdawful. When I saw it back in junior high, it seemed like a good movie. ;)

        • May 3, 2008 11:41 PM

          I don’t get TCM *sob sob* — so my classic movie sources have dried up.
          There IS so much to choose from; that’s one reason I’m surprised that GWTW turns up so often–why does it inspire so much affection, at this point? I mean, I thought it was pretty good– entertaining and visually beautiful. It has some amazing faces! But I’ve probably seen it two or three times more than I need to, already!

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