Cast of characters:
Scarlett O'Hara: A slim, curvaceous, Bambi-eyed beauty. Long black hair tied up, which tumbles down seductively at the drop of a Panama hat. Voiced by Madonna.
Rhett Butler: A slim, strong, Bambi eyed boy with a Tom Cruise smile. Clean-shaven face framed by unruly locks. Voiced by Leo De Caprio
Jonas Wilkerson: A tall strong rakish-looking man with a clipped black moustache. The villain of the movie. He is responsible (naturally) for the war, slavery, starvation, and Rhett and Scarlett's separation.
Melanie Hamilton: Modified into a sweet, purring kitten, with a heart shaped face. Comforts Scarlett whenever things go wrong. Cannot speak English, but nonetheless communicates in the manner of all Disney sidekick mammals with opposable thumbs. Voiced by Meg Ryan.
Ashley Wilkes: Cut, due to a Disney corporate policy of not allowing more than one Bambi eyed beauty, of either sex, in one film.
Mammy: A fat caricature providing the comic interludes. Drops caustic one liners, and tries to boss everyone around, but is 'managed' expertly by Scarlett. Is constantly trying to be sweetly patronising to 'Melly', but ends up being outwitted and shown up by the kitten. Voiced by Whoopi Goldberg.
Gerald O'Hara: Following the tradition of Disney fathers who fail to understand their Bambi eyed daughters, Gerald is likewise prone to obesity, mismanagement and hasty outbursts. Voiced by Woody Allen
The movie begins with a panoramic sweep of a Southern plantation, in much the same manner as previous panoramic sweeps of Agrabah, a French provincial town, and the African savannah. The titles roll by, with the usual display of music by Alan Menken, and lyrics by Tim Rice. Which everyone will already be familiar with, of course, since the Oscar Award winning track 'The Wind Will Be Go-one…' sung by Celine Dion will have been on the top of all the charts.
Jonas Wilkerson is a slimy specimen who tricks the gullible Mr. O'Hara into believing that he is a kind, considerate overseer. In reality he is a racist brute who tortures the plantation slaves, steals the profits, and hates fuzzy, Bambi-eyed bunnies. His own furry familiar is a huge bloodhound named Sherman. The two leer at Scarlett and Melly surreptitiously, a fact which escapes the notice of the pure minded Scarlett, but is known to the more practical kitten.
The story opens with the immortal picnic scene; Scarlett, enjoying a pastoral frolic with an assortment of furry animals. She has retreated to the cotton fields because none of her family understands her. Until the age of sixteen, Scarlett has led a sheltered, protected life. Then, Siddhartha-like, she unwittingly embarks on a journey of discovery.
While dreaming about what she will meet just around the cotton field bend, she chances on a desperate struggle. Prissy, a small, frail girl of eight, is being pursued by Sherman. Before the beast reaches her, the child is snatched up into a tree by a Bambi-eyed young stranger. 'Who...who are you? What's happening...?' Scarlett stammers. Rhett apprises Scarlett of the fact that plantation workers are being sold by Wilkerson, and that he himself is a blockade runner of slaves, rescuing them from their plantation prisons, and taking them to a life of freedom and frolic in the north.
'Great balls of fire!' Scarlett exclaims. "That's horrible!" She refuses to believe that her family can be party to such sin. (As we later discover, they are not. All sin can be attributed to the villain, because in Disney movies everyone is good except the bad guy.) "That's what you're living off" Rhett informs her. He is an idealistic young sailor, and thinks that Scarlett is just another high-class society miss. The pair part in high dudgeon, each convinced the other is wrong. Taking Prissy, he mounts his faithful companion- a sassy black mare named Bonnie. Scarlett turns around and determines to give him up to the law, while Rhett similarly resolves to treat her as an enemy.
Returning home, Scarlett confronts her father, who hems and haws and blusters about land being the only thing that matters. The truth is that Jonas has convinced him that Rhett was the slave trader, stealing the happy field hands away from their happy plantations, to make them toil under the cruel sun over the sugar plantations in Cuba. Furious with the loss of Prissy, he also plants the idea that Scarlett is being disloyal to her father by not revealing the name of the mysterious slave savoir, whom she has thus helped escape.
Scarlett, stung by such a just accusation, refuses to disclose the secret. Mr. O'Hara, egged on by his crafty overseer, determines that the young lady has exceeded her bounds, and banishes her from her beloved red cotton fields. The choice of her exile is Peachtree Street, Atlanta, a rude, uncouth city that Scarlett loathes, due to its lack of red earth, singing field hands, and fuzzy bunnies.
Accompanied by Melly, she sets out for Atlanta. There she meets with a fluttery, foolish old lady who owns a sawmill, and has no idea whatsoever how to run it. Scarlett takes over, and through a combination of hard work, a song's worth of enthusiasm, and New Age management techniques, turns it into a paying concern.
War breaks out between the North and South. Back at Tara, the fiendish Wilkerson has virtually taken over, making life miserable for family and field hands alike. (Not to mention the bunnies) Wilkerson, evil incarnate that he is, is a member of the Commissary Dept. and rules the plantation with an iron hand. Gerald is helpless because his overseer has mercilessly said that Scarlett is now a national traitor, and only he has the power to stay her arrest.
Meanwhile Scarlett, like a model woman of the 1870's, is successfully juggling her career as a mill owner, with her other assignments at the hospital, all the while being a perfect foster homemaker for the convalescent soldiers at home, and having the time to sing a song. Rhett has assumed the disguise of a rich, debonair man about town, a role that his simple, homely mentality finds exceedingly difficult to portray. The pair meet at various ballrooms, thus giving Scarlett an opportunity to see his charm and good looks, Rhett an opportunity to see Scarlett as a hard working politically correct beauty, and us an opportunity to see the pair together, happy, and well dressed. Their respective change in opinions remain to themselves, however, since they cannot talk of their previous meeting, or his real identity. Rhett, in fact, tries to avoid the one person who can betray him, but fate, in the form of Bonnie and Melly, have other plans for him. The sagacious animals realise what their owners don't, namely, Scarlett and Rhett are meant for each other. Their plans are made easier by the arrival of Big Sam, who has escaped from Tara and is a fugitive. Scarlett knows that only Rhett can help them, and so is found, in the next scene, waiting on a deserted road near a highly combustible shantytown.
Meeting up with Rhett, the pair sings a duet or so before wondering what to do. Rhett is still blockade running slaves, and offers to smuggle Scarlett out along with Big Sam, so that they can both settle down in peace. Scarlett, after three animated moments of agonising soul searching, decides to refuse. Her place is with her people, she tells him. The Yankees have reached Atlanta, and though the South's defeat seems imminent, Scarlett cannot betray her side, faulty and racist though they may appear to be even after all of Disney's modifications.
Just then Mammy appears in a terrible state. 'Miz Scarlet, Tara is dying' she gasps. It seems the villainous overseer has pretended to switch sides, and is burning down all the cotton bales and plantations he can lay his hands on, in his guise of a victorious Yankee. A highly philosophical discussion now takes place with the striking background of a burning Atlanta silhouetting the pairs profiles. The gist of it being that warring is wrong, slavery is wrong, and Jonas Wilkerson is wrong. Being loyal, though, is not. "In a war, everyone suffers." Scarlett whispers profoundly. "I need to go home, Rhett. Black, white, it doesn't matter. They are all my people. And they need my help." "I need you too, remember," Rhett says under his breath, and turns to leave, when Scarlett mutters, "We also need a horse." The upshot being that everyone flees through a burning Atlanta; Bonnie, Scarlett, Melly and Mammy towards field hands and the South, Rhett and Big Sam towards freedom and the North.
Scarlett and co., after reaching Tara, successfully whip up emotions and actions to a climatic pitch. Rhett also arrives on the scene, disguised as a member of the conquering Yankee troupe. After much drama (but no bloodshed- it would scare the little kiddies) the final morals are established. Namely: slavery is wrong, but it was all Wilkerson's fault. Burning bales of cotton and the plantations they stood on was wrong, but that was all Wilkerson's fault. Gerald O'Hara's suspicion and banishment of his daughter was wrong, but that was all Wilkerson's fault. Rhett's outright rejection of Scarlett as a typical, rich, biased southerner was wrong, but that was also somehow, all Wilkerson's fault. The war was wrong, but it's over, and so everyone can ignore that it was not all Wilkerson's fault.
O'Hara and his field hands are now both equally free, and work in happy harmony to restore the charred Tara to its former glory. Rhett and Scarlett meet in Atlanta, where Scarlett is handing over the sawmill to a tearful Aunt Pitty. Everyone is happy and no one needs Scarlett now, and so when Rhett laughingly reminds her that 'land is the only thing that matters', she smiles back and says, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn." Upon which Rhett sweeps her up a staircase that's conveniently standing by, and both turn to give the audience the familiar end of movie kiss, lips and eyes closed, noses tilted in perfect profile.
And thus true love conquers all, except Jonas Wilkerson, who is conquered by a bloodless death somewhere in the climax, and Sherman, that vicious bloodhound, who is conquered by (who else but) the fuzzy bunnies.