Monday, April 2, 2012

Tonight on American Masters: Margaret Mitchell & Harper Lee

Tonight on PBS, American Masters is featuring 2 new documentaries, one on Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, entitled Margaret Mitchell:  American Rebel.  The second is entitled Harper Lee:  Hey, Boo. Check your local listings for the times.

You can watch a preview of Margaret Mitchell here. According to the web-site  "Margaret Mitchell was no ordinary writer. The one book she published in her lifetime – Gone With the Wind – sold millions of copies at the height of the Great Depression in America and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1937, 75 years ago. With over 30 million copies sold to date, it is one of the world’s best-selling novels. Equally impressive, the film adaptation of Gone With the Wind broke all box office records when it premiered in 1939, and received 10 Academy Awards.But who was the creator behind two of the world’s greatest lovers – Scarlett and Rhett – and the tumultuous romance that left book readers and film viewers wondering about their final fate together in one of storytelling’s most talked about cliffhangers? She was certainly no ordinary woman either. "

Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel engages leading authors, historians, biographers and people with personal connections to Mitchell to reveal a complex and mysterious woman who experienced profound identity shifts in her life and who struggled with the two great issues of her day: the changing role of women and the liberation of African Americans. Interviewees include friend Sara Mitchell Parsons, Carolyn Equen Miller (daughter of Mitchell’s lifelong arch rival Anne Hart Equen), Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides), Pearl Cleage (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day), Molly Haskell (Frankly My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited), Darden Asbury Pyron (Southern Daughter/The Life of Margaret Mitchell and the Making of Gone With the Wind), and John Wiley (Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind). Roberts shot extensive reenactments for the film based on Mitchell’s personal letters, which trace Mitchell throughout her life, starting at age three, that show how Mitchell’s upbringing influenced Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel also examines Gone With the Wind’s cultural impact. For some the work was a racial lightning rod, while for others it proved a model for survival.

Harper Lee:  Hey Boo:  One of the biggest bestsellers of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is the first and only novel by a young woman named Nelle Harper Lee, who once said that she wanted to be South Alabama’s Jane Austen. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize and became a mystery when she stopped speaking to press in 1964. More than 50 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide, still sells nearly one million copies each year and is required reading in most American classrooms, making it quite possibly the most influential American novel of the 20th century. The 1962 film version, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, won a trio of Academy Awards.

Harper Lee: Hey, Boo chronicles how this beloved novel came to be written, provides the context and history of the Deep South where it is set, and documents the many ways the novel has changed minds and shaped history. For teachers, students or fans of the classic, Hey, Boo enhances the experience of reading To Kill a Mockingbird.

Containing never-before-seen photos and letters, Hey, Boo features insightful interviews with friends and an exclusive interview with Lee’s sister, Alice Finch Lee (age 99 at filming), who share intimate recollections, anecdotes and biographical details for the first time, offering new insight into the life and mind of Harper Lee, including why she never published again. Oprah Winfrey; Tom Brokaw; Pulitzer Prize-winners Rick Bragg, Anna Quindlen, Richard Russo, Jon Meacham, and Diane McWhorter; and civil rights leader Andrew Young address the novel’s power, influence, and popularity, and the many ways it has shaped their lives.

I, for one, can't wait to see both of these documentaries!

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