With all the recent terrorist concerns in France (and around the world) I thought I’d concentrate on the “French Connection” to the Tara façade as a nod to our friends in the City of Lights. Our French Connection is of course Olivia DeHavilland who has long made Paris her home, but will always be known for her portrayal of the Georgian, Melanie Hamilton in the movie Gone With the Wind.
As I was working on the lay out of the doors and windows of Tara and how they could best be displayed in the old dairy barn (or in the big new building I’m asking Santa to provide) I found myself counting the number of scenes each character had with the Tara façade or its pieces. A meeting with a retired Hollywood director convinced me that many of the pieces found on the façade were also used on the sound stage which means that the number of scenes these pieces “co starred in” has increased significantly. So for today’s exercise let’s look at Ms. DeHavilland’s scenes amongst the windows, doors and side porches of Tara.
Of course it was Scarlett who entertained the Tarleton Twins on Tara’s front porch and the character of Melanie was not introduced until the party at Twelve Oaks, so Tara does not share the screen with Melanie until after they flee Atlanta upon General Sherman’s arrival with his conquering army. But after their arrival at Tara, Melanie shares screen time with Tara’s front door more than once, the cathedral window on Tara’s landing which saw her pass as she came to Scarlett’s aid in the confrontation with the Yankee soldier, and then on the side porch as she sat and talked with the “hungry scare crows” of the southern army; learning of Ashley’s capture and then sharing the news with Scarlett.
As we clean out more of the odd pieces and provide room to “stretch out”, visitors will be able to stand near the railings of the side porch, the cathedral window and of course the steps where Melanie sat with her baby. My plan is for those scenes to be posted in large format next to the actual pieces so that you can take in the magnitude of Selznick’s vision and understand (as I have) why so many people believe that Tara was built as a complete house on Selznick’s set rather than a three sided façade (it wasn’t).
Those who have made the trip to the dairy barn south of Atlanta and taken my tour of the Tara façade can attest to the fact that the magic still rests in the faded green of the shutters, and the original white paint still clinging to the windows and columns. And It is my hope that soon I will have a bigger place for you to visit, but even if it is no larger than the old dairy barn where it now makes its home, Tara is waiting to welcome all who come. For you see Gerald O’Hara’s plan was for Tara to remain to succor those who sought refuge and that was born of a statement by Margaret Mitchell’s great grandfather who believed that the land of ones ancestors was sacred and profound. The people of France can attest to the worth of their homeland as each of us has who has seen our country abused by those who would seek to kill and destroy…but like Tara the coming daylight continues to show us bruised and battered but still standing.
I’ll be looking for you up at the gate.