The Women of Old Hollywood Are Revived on YouTube
In a world where stories about women in film often either take a backseat or become labelled as some sort of marketing stunt, there are those who make efforts to allow women to be truly seen. Such efforts can be seen in Be Kind Rewind, a YouTube channel that focuses on Hollywood history, women in film, and general film studies. It gives a spotlight on stories of women in the movie industry using primary sources while providing engaging visuals through a video essay format.
The channel creator, Izzy—who goes only by her first name to preserve privacy—mentioned in an interview with Indie Outlook how useful video essays can be when it comes to presenting ideas. “I personally love watching videos more than reading criticism because so often, I find that the benefit is in the details,” she said. “You can talk about the magic that someone brings to the screen as much as you want, but at the end of the day, you need to see it to understand what somebody is talking about.”
Her videos span decades’ worth of classic and unsung films, some of which have been remade several times. One video compares the four film versions of Little Women and how each one gives its own spin to the timeless story based on the era in which it was made. It states how the 1933 version with Katharine Hepburn, for example, focuses on the divide between freedom and womanhood. Meanwhile, the 2019 version directed by Greta Gerwig attempts to find parallels in each of the March sisters’ lives in order to give the characters more dimension.
For all your Gerwig needs this holiday season:— bkr (@bkrewind) December 26, 2019
Comparing Every Version of Little Womenhttps://t.co/76R28CWdjh
Be Kind Rewind also gives in-depth looks at behind-the-scenes stories for some of the most beloved old Hollywood films. In a video about the hit Gone With the Wind, Izzy tells the tumultuous story of casting the iconic role of Scarlett O’Hara. Several popular actresses were tapped for the role, but when British theater actress Vivien Leigh managed to get the coveted part, there was a lot of criticism about casting a foreigner for an American part. And yet, this was the role that got Leigh her first Oscar and made her one of the most iconic actresses of that era—if not of all time.
Much like Gone With The Wind, this video took forever to come out and is longer than anything I've ever done.— bkr (@bkrewind) July 31, 2019
Casting Scarlett O'Hara:https://t.co/Rw4nGUwKim
There are videos as well that dissect certain trends in the film industry, such as how actresses choose to become film directors after some time in their career. In a video analyzing Ada Lupino’s journey, Izzy states how the actress had to adopt a “motherly” figure as a director so as not to seem threatening to her male coworkers. The same video details how Barbra Streisand had to take less money despite her writing, directing, acting, and producing credits for her Academy-Award-winning film Yentl.
I took a break from obsessing over @tcm's series Women Make Film to look at how two actresses became incredible directors.— bkr (@bkrewind) October 28, 2020
Actresses Who Direct: Barbra Streisand and Ida Lupinohttps://t.co/ghfkyNa0BO
As for Be Kind Rewind’s thorough research process, Izzy has to sift through decades of sources and archives. She says, “I have access to a couple of different archives that are great… There are some online archives of old photoplays and things like that. Then I search around for books that might be relevant. I think that books are generally the best way to go about things because they’ve already done the work in combing through what’s rumor and what’s not.”
The channel itself is for anyone who loves film, or history—or even both. Where the Youtube world features a mountain of shallow react videos, Be Kind Rewind shows viewers substantial content that gives room for new opinions and introspections. It’s an overall great avenue for learning about the different unsung stories of women in cinema. To hear more old Hollywood tales, you can visit Be Kind Rewind here.