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739 of 783 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near-Perfect Edition of Hollywood Classic...
It seems like a 'new, improved' edition of "Gone With the Wind" has appeared every couple of years, offering the 'ultimate' in picture and sound reproduction, and extras. It can become expensive keeping up, and frustrating (much like buying a classic Disney DVD, when you know a more complete "Special Edition" will soon render your "First Time on Video" copy obsolete), but...
Published on December 22, 2004 by Benjamin J Burgraff

131 of 151 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing box set
Please note that my disappointment was in no way with "Gone With the Wind" itself, which is, as we all know, is one of the greatest movies of all time. I couldn't say anything about this wonderful film that hasn't been said already. This big, lush, box set, however, left a lot to be desired.
Let's start with the 8 original limited edition lobby card prints. They're...
Published on February 17, 2004 by jenbird

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739 of 783 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near-Perfect Edition of Hollywood Classic..., December 22, 2004
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It seems like a 'new, improved' edition of "Gone With the Wind" has appeared every couple of years, offering the 'ultimate' in picture and sound reproduction, and extras. It can become expensive keeping up, and frustrating (much like buying a classic Disney DVD, when you know a more complete "Special Edition" will soon render your "First Time on Video" copy obsolete), but the new GWTW Four-Disc Collector's Edition most assuredly deserves a place in your collection.

First off, the picture and sound quality is astonishing. Warner's Ultra-Resolution process, which 'locks' the three Technicolor strips into exact alignment, provides a clarity and 'crispness' to the images that even the 1939 original print couldn't achieve. You'll honestly believe your TV is picking up HD, whether you're HD-ready, or not! This carries over to the Dolby Digital-remastered sound, as well. All of the tell-tale hiss and scratchiness of the opening credit title music, still discernable in the last upgrade, is gone, replaced by a richness of tone that will give your home theater a good workout. (Listen to the brass in this sequence, and you'll notice what I'm talking about...)

The biggest selling point of this edition is, of course, the two discs of additional features offered, and these are, in general, superb. Beginning with the excellent "Making of a Legend" (narrated by Christopher Plummer), Disc Three offers fascinating overviews about the film, the amazing restoration, footage from the 1939 Premiere (and the bittersweet 1961 Civil War Centennial reunion of Selznick, Leigh, and de Havilland), glimpses of Gable and Leigh with dubbed voices for the foreign-language versions, the international Prologue (tacked on to explain the Civil War to foreign audiences), and a 1940 MGM documentary on the "Old South" (directed by Fred Zinneman) memorable today for it's simplistic view of the time, and stereotypical portrayal of blacks.

Disc Four is a mixed bag; the long-awaited reminiscences of Olivia de Havilland are more chatty than informative (with the 90-year-old actress more interested in discussing her wardrobe than on-set tension...although a prank she pulled on Gable is amusing), and the Clark Gable Profile is superficial (A&E's biography of 'The King' is far superior). Things improve, however, with the insightful, sympathetic TCM biography of Vivien Leigh (hosted by Jessica Lange), and a WONDERFUL section devoted to brief bios of many of the GWTW supporting cast, narrated, again, by Christopher Plummer (although I wish the filmmakers would have included bios for Ward Bond, Victor Jory, Fred Crane, and George 'Superman' Reeves).

All in all, the GWTW Four-Disc Collector's Edition isn't perfect, but offers so much terrific material that it is CERTAINLY the one to own!
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322 of 350 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "And you, miss, are no lady!", November 17, 2009
As with the "Wizard of OZ" BD set, the GWTW set is elaborated -- and made "spendier" -- with the addition of material that might not be absolutely necessary for one's enjoyment. The box is covered in red velvet flocking (green would have been more appropriate and amusing -- qv, Carol Burnett). There's a CD "sampler" of Max Steiner's score, running a measly 45 minutes. Given that Max took excessive scoring to the max (Bette Davis had some pointedly unkind things to say about it), a "sampler" could have filled two CDs, and still not have exhausted the music (though the music might exhaust you). *

As with "OZ", there's a 52-page hard-backed book that's largely content-free, plus reproductions of some of the watercolor set-design paintings (in their own little envelope), and various memoranda sent to and from David O. Selznick. I was expecting a reproduction of Gerald O'Hara's pocket watch, but it likely would have been of even poorer quality than the kiddie watch in the "OZ" box.

The best bonus is a reproduction of the 25-cent (expensive in 1939) souvenir booklet. It includes pieces by the principals, notably one from Clark Gable telling how badly he wanted to play Rhett Butler and much he enjoyed every minute of making the film. (He didn't want to appear in "costume" films (having had bad luck in a film about Irish revolutionaries), was afraid to take on a role the public had such definite ideas about, and got along poorly with the first director, George Cukor.)

As I write this, I haven't viewed all the supplemental material on the second disk. (There's a lot.) The third disk duplicates the "When the Lion Roars" feature included in the "OZ" box -- though the package labeling suggests it's unique to GWTW.

GWTW was always unsharp and muddy-looking -- until the Ultra Resolution transfer of the original three-strip negatives a few years ago. It was a major improvement, and the DVDs showed the film as it had never been seen.

This edition apparently uses a new Ultra Resolution transfer, at twice the resolution (8k versus 4k) of the previous. Some scenes -- such as Ashley escorting Melanie to the balcony of Twin Oaks -- are breathtaking, far superior to what the DVD offered (and /that/ wasn't exactly chopped liver). The best Technicolor films, properly transferred, push HD to its limit.

What most surprised me, though, was the awareness of how the film's color balance is adjusted to produce specific effects. Many scenes have an appropriately warm, "burnished" coloration that /does not/ carry over to the scene's subtle colors. For example, at the fund-raising bazaar, there's a bottle of pastel-colored candies (which you'll probably never notice in the SD edition) that retain their correct colors, "unromantized" by the rest of the image's warmth. Similarly, in the scene outside the hospital where Belle Watling makes a donation, her costume is vividly colored (there's no question about her profession!), even though everything else is drab.

Several sequences are outstanding, particularly the one where Scarlett returns to Aunt Pittypat's home to tend to Melanie. It's a model of Technicolor photography, one that any cinematographer would be proud of -- as good as anything being done today. In earlier transfers of poorer prints, this sequence is flat and two-dimensional. You can't see how magnificently lit and photographed it is.

At its best, the Technicolor resembles large-format, ultra-sharp Polacolor. That's a compliment! If you're fortunate enough to have a large display, you'll gasp at some of the images.

One of the most-startling moments occurs when Scarlett goes to the train station to look for Dr Meade, one of the most-famous scenes in movie history. Hundreds, if not thousands of injured men lie on the ground, waiting for medical attention that will likely never come. There weren't enough extras, so dummies were used. And for the first time, you can actually /see/ which of the "extras" are dummies! You can probably tell better than the camera operator!

In short... The BD edition is a major improvement over the excellent DVD edition. It gives the impression that the movie makers were able to manipulate Technicolor to get specific aesthetic effects. ** And it shows just how /beautifully photographed/ this film is, something even the original Technicolor prints never fully revealed. The DVD probably captured most of this (I no longer have it for comparison), but you'll never see it in standard definition on a "small" screen. Looking at excerpts in the supplmentary material /not/ taken from the Ultra Resolution transfer is a reminder of just how "messy"-looking the original GWTW was. It no longer is. I've never enjoyed watching it so much.

It's becoming apparent that an HD transfer, shown on a big display, is not the best way to watch a movie at home, but the best way to watch a movie, period.

The sound is so-so, of limited range and not particularly clean. (Disney does a better job cleaning up the audio of its classic films.) The reviewer who said it filled the room as well as any modern soundtrack must own Bose 901s. It would sound better in a theater, with big horn speakers that started rolling off above 5kHz. If GWTW was recorded in RCA multi-track, the stems don't appear to have survived. (Those for "OZ" exist and have been used, though not, apparently in the Blu-ray.) Music and dialog are mono throughout, but individual sound effects (particulary explosions) are panned to the side or rear when appropriate. The music sometimes seems too loud for the dialog, and the overall level is by far the lowest of any Blu-ray I've yet auditioned. I had to really crank up the volume, far, far beyond 11.

This is an expensive set, but it represents such a significant improvement over the last DVD edition (as good as it was) that it's worth seriously considering. Even if your BD player has a good scaler, the DVD won't look anywhere nearly this good on your HD monitor. Highly recommended.

PS: Just because a film is a classic doesn't mean it's suitable for everyone in your family. The G rating is ridiculous. GWTW is at least PG, containing, as it does, women of questionable virtue, a fair amount of violence (including a scene in which Scarlett is attacked, and another in which she shoots a Yankee, practically blowing off his face), and Rhett dragging Scarlett up the stairs to "molest" her. The MPAA ratings board is nothing if not inconsistent.

PPS: Though Vivian Leigh and Hattie McDaniel received Oscars, I consider Butterfly McQueen's performance as Prissy the best in the film. Though she hated the role (it's too easy to interpret Prissy as representing slaves in general, rather than one in particular), she showed great courage in taking it, and delivers a finely nuanced performance.

* Max Steiner wrote the first great film score for a talky - "King Kong". It epitomizes his style -- "Mickey-Mousing" almost every screen action, and the heavy use of Leitmotivs for characters and events. (Note how Melanie's motive appears every time she does, and how Rhett's is played -- breaking the scene's mood -- when he leaves Scarlett for the last time.) He was also the first sound-film composer to underscore almost the entire length of a film -- this is not a recent development. It's worth noting that GWTW, despite some memorable music, did not win "Best Score" for 1939 -- Herbert Stothart's for "Wizard of OZ" did. I find Stothart's considerably more imaginative and appealing.

** The Technicolor print uses dye transfer, in which each color is layed down separately from its own gelatin matrix. This allows a great deal of flexibility in controlling the contrast and color balance -- if you're willing to put out the time and money. According to the supplementary material, the color balance /was/ adjusted on scene-by-scene basis for GWTW, just as it is for modern films -- that's what the "color timer" person does. A high-quality print from 1939 was found, and guided the restorers in adjusting color balance.
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275 of 319 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technical Consideration for "Bewildered in Iowa", November 30, 2004
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I do hope you'll return and revise your rating to a '5' once you digest this information:

Gone With the Wind was never released in a Widescreen version on DVD because it was never released in a Widescreen version on film. In fact, when it was released (1939), there were NO "Widescreen" movies at all -- becaues no one had yet thought about formatting movies in that way.

Through the 1940s and into the 1950s, essentially ALL movies were in the 3:4 format that we now consider to be "regular". My understanding is that those proportions originally were adopted by the film industry to roughly correspond with the proportions of viewable area for the "live" theaters extant when the film industry started. Similarly, when television arrived in the late 40s/early 50s, its screen format was determined by copying the 3:4 screen proportions of films made up to that time. By the mid-1950s, the film industry became concerned about losing its audience to TV, so various WIDESCREEN formats (CinemaScope was one; I think there was another called VistaVision; I can't remember the others offhand) were conceived by the film industry in the 1950s as a way in which the film industry could distinguish its film products from what could efficiently be shown on television screens. This was the film industry's attempt to keep audiences coming to theaters to see their movies, rather than just waiting to see movie productions on home televisions; by coming to the theater, the audience could experience something different that what television could offer.

Other "ideas" in this effort against TV included attempts to interest audiences in 3D films, as well as enhancing film audio, both by greatly improving sound range and fidelity and later by adding stereo, at a time when TVs had only a single, inexpensive speaker that didn't sound all that "hot." In fact, the creation/addition of 5.1 audio (Surround Sound) was yet another film industry effort to distinguish itself from what then was available for use in homes.

Anyway, if someone now wants to issue a "Widescreen" version of GWTW, the only way to do it (without distorting the content) would be to cut off the top and/or bottom of every frame all the way through -- just think about how THAT would look . . .
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131 of 151 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing box set, February 17, 2004
Please note that my disappointment was in no way with "Gone With the Wind" itself, which is, as we all know, is one of the greatest movies of all time. I couldn't say anything about this wonderful film that hasn't been said already. This big, lush, box set, however, left a lot to be desired.
Let's start with the 8 original limited edition lobby card prints. They're obviously colorized, and hideously so. Mammy in a neon pink headdress? The same neon pink as the stripes on the soldier's pants at the charity bazaar? I don't think so. And excuse me, the dress Scarlett wore when she fled from Atlanta and for some time after that was lavendar, not French's mustard yellow. Nor is anyone's skin that "flesh" color, ever.
Moving on to the 6 original black and white photograph cards (and why would you print black and white photos of a beautiful color movie like this, anyway?)...I could have done a better job on my home computer, with screen captures. The pictures, which include Rhett at the bottom of the stairs seeing Scarlett for the first time, are very blurry. Even the close up of Rhett and Scarlett about to kiss (after Frank Kennedy's funeral) isn't clear.
The 35 mm film frame I received was of Rhett bidding Scarlett farewell on the road to Tara; the accompanying art graphic is very dark and muddy. I have to hold the film cell up to bright light to even see it, so forget about framing it.
The 27x40 movie poster was very nice, and I'll end up getting a frame to display it.
The DVD lists its "special features" as interactive menus and scene access; isn't that pretty much standard by now? The extras consist of a trivia game (you don't guess the answers, they'll give them to you on the next screen) and the movie trailer. That's it. One of the greatest films of all time, and that's the best you can do? What about the excellent documentary "The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind"? I have that on VHS and it's wonderful. That could have been added to make a two disc set.
I'd wanted "GWTW" on DVD for a long time, and instead of buying the much less expensive DVD (where I could have had a choice of standard or widescreen versions), I had to hold out for the big box set. I wonder now why I bothered.
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266 of 319 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Mythology at its Most Memorable, December 11, 2002
This review is from: Gone with the Wind (DVD)
In the years since it debuted, GONE WITH THE WIND has taken a beating from film critics and historians alike. The characters are often described as cardboard-ish; portions of the film are described as excessively melodramatic; some of the special effects (most notably the film's occasional use of rear-view projections) have dated. There is some truth to all of these comments, but by far the most serious accusation hurled at the film is that it is racist.
One's perception of the film as racist rather depends on whether you look at the film within the context of its era or from a purely modern standpoint. At the time, GONE WITH THE WIND was a major advance in the portrayal of blacks on screen, for the two major black characters--Mammy and Prissy--are a far cry from the obnoxious "Stepin Fetchit" stereotypes so common in the 1930s. In later years, both Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen would be derrided for their participation in the film and accused of perpetuating stereotypes, but in fact their performances were anything but stereotypical at the time--indeed, their very power led Hollywood into a repetition of similar characters, and it was that repetition that later caused the originals to read as cliched.
The real problem with GONE WITH THE WIND is that it, like the novel on which it is based, buys into the myth of great plantations, lovely Southern belles, gallant gentlemen, and a paternalistic form of slavery. These concepts have some basis in fact, but the vast majority of southern whites did not own plantations, much less own slaves, and those who did rarely practiced "paternalistic" slavery by any stretch of the imagination. But GONE WITH THE WIND is the myth, not the fact--and once we accept it as a highly romanticized vision of the South as it never really was, the film becomes incredibly entertaining and can still cast its spell upon the modern viewer.
The most powerful thing about the film is that it moves. Over the course of its very long run, the episodic story of the beautiful and willful Scarlett O'Hara and her rapacious drive to insulate herself from the hardships of the war never significantly drags. And the cast, from the leads to the bit players, is superior.
Margaret Michell might have created Rhett Butler with Clark Gable in mind; Vivien Leigh, a remarkable beauty and a very fine actress, was scarcely known outside England--but amazingly, when one considers the tremendous anticipation surrounding the casting of the role, she plays Scarlett with incredible success. Granted that the characters of Melanie and Ashley are rather unbelievable, but both Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard carry them off with conviction. And although they have already been mentioned, Hattie McDaniel's formidable Mammy and Butterfly McQueen's passive-aggressive and frequently hysterical Prissy are brilliant creations and more than worthy of a second mention.
True, advances in cinema technique have made some of the special effects seem dated, but the production values and art design are brilliant from throughout, and the film offers a multitude of iconographic moments: Rhett standing at the bottom of the staircase at Twelve Oaks; Scarlett caught up in a the panic during the seige of Atlanta; the tattered flag waving above the fallen troops at the train yard; the kiss between Rhett and Scarlett after the fall of Atlanta--these, yes, and many, many more.
GONE WITH THE WIND will no doubt become increasingly controversial as attitudes continue to change re race, slavery, and the Civil War--but in terms of pure cinema it is a remarkable achievement for all involved and it remains a landmark to this day. The DVD currently available offers a pristine picture and high quality sound, but I must note that the DVD has no great advantage over the current VHS release; a trailer aside, there are no bonus materials of any kind, and both are of equal quality. Strongly recommended, but with a warning: do not mistake it for fact. As I noted earlier, this is a South that never was, built on a form of slavery far removed from the slavery that actually existed. Enjoy it as a beautifully made and epic romance with a host of powerful performances--but not as history.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
D. Walker (Williamsburg, VA, United States) - See all my reviews
There are almost 1,000 reviews for "GONE WITH THE WIND" VHS Tapes, DVDs & Blu-rays.


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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The extra features are now known for this release, August 11, 2009
An asterisk below indicates this feature was on the 2004 release of this film. The bottom line is that discs 1-4 are pretty much repeats of the 2004 release and disc five has the new material. There are also two books and a CD new to this release. This is, of course, a very good film. It was playing in theatres from 1939 until 1976 when it made its television premiere. However, Warner Bros. has many other great films languishing in its vaults that I'd like to see get just one release. The contents of this 5 disc package are:

Includes the first two discs in the 2-disc S.E. which is the movie itself with commentary by historian Rudy Behlmer. *- Same commentary as before.

DISC 3 (About the Movie):
"The Making of a Legend: Gone With The Wind" the 1989 documentary made by Selznick's sons. *
"Restoring a Legend" - An in-depth look at the restoration. *
Dixie Hails "Gone with the Wind". Footage from 1939 Atlanta and 1961 Civil War Centennial Atlanta premieres. *
Historical theatrical short "The Old South" (1940) directed by Fred Zinnerman. *
Atlanta Civil War Centennial 1961 premiere newsreel *
International prologue *
Foreign language version sample scenes *
Theatrical Trailers *

DISC 4 (About the Cast):
Three Documentaries:
"Melanie Remembers: Olivia de Havilland Recalls Gone With The Wind" *
"Clark Gable: A King Remembered" *
"Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond" *
The Supporting Players - Cameo portraits of an unforgettable ensemble *

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment presents 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year - New documentary about Hollywood's watershed year narrated by Kenneth Branagh. This is a very good documentary that has been playing on TCM as of late.
Gone with the Wind: The Legend Lives On -- Exploring the legacy of the most beloved film through illuminating interviews, footage and visits to historical sites, events and museums
Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara Wars 1980 WBTV Special never before on home video - This movie stars Tony Curtis as David O. Selznick as he looks for the actress that he wants to play Scarlett. I haven't seen it on TV since its original run back in 1980, but it was pretty good as I remember.

Plus these Premiums:
20-page reproduction of the original and complete 1939 Souvenir Program
40-page Production History Book with photos and production notes
Eight Frameable 5x7 Art Prints
CD soundtrack sampler featuring eight tracks:
Main Title
The Barbecue
Escape From Atlanta
I'll Never Be Hungry Again
Paddock Scene
Scarlett In The Mist/Rhett Leaves

The 2-disc Blu-Ray release will have all the content above on 2 discs.
Exclusive to the Blu-Ray Ultimate Collector's Edition is MGM - When The Lion Roars Documentary, which you can, of course, buy separately here - MGM: When the Lion Roars.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone With The Wind DVD Review, October 28, 2005
Jeffery Bauman (Garden City, Michigan) - See all my reviews
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Movie: Okay, lets just get this out of the way: "Gone With The Wind" was, is, and will always be the best movie ever made. There, I said it. Ever since its premiere in 1939 "Gone With The Wind" set the bar for which all motion pictures after it. There would be no "Star Wars," "Ben Hur," "Titanic," or "Lord Of The Rings" Trilogy if "Gone With The Wind" had not been such a grand achievement. Every frame of the film drips with sheer perfection. The sets are grand, the acting marvelous, and the direction impeccable. My favorite thing about "Gone With The Wind" would have to be the cast. Hattie Macdaniel was marvelous as Mammy, Olivia DeHaviland heavenly as Melanie, Leslie Howard great as Ashley, and Clark Gable is sheer perfection as Rhett Butler. Last but certainly not least, Vivien Leigh IS Scarlett O'Hara. Isn't it obvious that I love this movie? With that said, let's take a look at the DVD.

Movie: (Ten Million/5)

Picture: If you already own the previous single disc release from MGM, you can safely throw it away in favor of this set. Simply put, the picture is marvelous. The film has been painstakingly restored from the original 3-Strip Technicolor Negatives. When the three Technicolor negatives are re-aligned, there is a level of clarity that has never been seen before. There is a featurette in the supplements section that explains just how this process was accomplished. Compared to previous VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD incarnations, the results are truly startling. The colors are wondrous, the picture is sharp, and there are no faults to be found at all. Simply amazing! (6/5)

Sound: The film's soundtrack has been remastered in a wonderful new Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There results are simply splendid. In a comparison, this is the same track that appeared on the single disc DVD. However, that is not a bad thing. The dialog souds great. There is no hiss or distortion of any kind. Surround activity is limited (What do you expect? The soundtrack was recorded in 1939!) The surrounds benefit the most from Max Steiner's wondrous score, and in the evacuation of Atlanta sequence. For purists, the film's original mono soundtrack has also been included, and it sounds great. (5/5)

Extras: Rejoice! Fans at long last have the definitve version of "Gone With The Wind!" There are tons of goodies in this set. Discs One and Two house the film itself. They also contain an excellent commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer. His commentary is interesting and informative that is filled with fascinating bits of information about the production.

Discs Three and Four house the bulk of the extras.

"Making of a Legend: Gone With The Wind" is the best documentary on the making of a film I have ever seen. There are interviews with many of the kehy people in the production as well as screen tests, Oscar footage, archival footage, and much more. This is worth the price of the box set alone.

Next up is "Restoring A Legend." This takes you inside Warner's restoration facilities to see firsthand the painstaking restoration that went into this set. This is one of my favorite featurettes simply because it is so nice to hear about all the hard work, sweat, blood, tears, and most of all love that Warner Brothers Home Video is putting into making "Gone With The Wind" and other classic titles so they can look and sound their best for years to come. Bravo!

On disc three you'll also find "Dixie Hails Gone With The Wind!" short, "Civil War Centennial" short, "The Old South" short, the international prologue to explain to other countries what the Civil War was, brief international language dub scenes, and a trailer gallery.

On disc four you'll find "Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia DeHaviland." Ms. DeHaviland is a gracious hostess, and it is a joy to hear her recollections. "Gable: The King Remembered" is a 1975 documentary on Clark Gable. This is very classy and quite informative, and was an excellent addition. "Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond" is next. This is also a great documentary on the legendary actress, and is quite well done. Next are numerous mini documentaries on the supporting players that run from under one minute to around five minutes in length. These are nice to have, and really help to round out the set. Also included is a reproduction of the original 1939 souvenir program. Very classy. (10/5)

Overall: The greatest film ever made gets, in my opinion, the best DVD ever produced. Thank god Warner knows how to preserve these this and other classic films so people can continue to appreciate them for generations to come. A superb restoration and a plethora of extras make this a no-brainer. If you only buy one DVD in your life, buy this one! This is the best DVD I have ever seen, and I am so happy to have it in my collection. Thank you Warner Brothers for getting it right! (10/5)
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gone With the Wind: The Epic Standard, July 29, 2002
Martin Asiner (jersey city, nj United States) - See all my reviews
GONE WITH THE WIND is the movie epic by which all other movies are judged. During its nearly four hours, the audience can see several movies in one: a love story, a war epic, a portrait of a self-driven woman to succeed regardless of cost, an historical saga, and the need of a displaced formerly proud people to regain their roots. Much of the sweep of Margaret Mitchell's novel is retained while losing only extraneous material. Director Victor Fleming presents a vision of the South that existed only for a precious, priviliged few. The first half centers on this ante-bellum image of a julip drinking South peopled mostly with polished gentlemen and marriage-hunting women. The dramatic focus of both halves is, of course, Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in the role of a lifetime. Scarlett shows none of the monomania for success that drives her later on. Here, she is vain, flirty, and totally self-centered, except for her obsession for Ashley Wilkes, who as played by Leslie Howard, comes off as the last of a dying breed of Southern gentlemen. She throws herself at his feet, promising to love him eternally. When he rejects her, she slaps his face, now promising to despise him. As fine an actor as Leslie Howard is, he cannot set himself up as her power equal. For that, Clark Gable enters as Rhett Butler, a man who sees the world as it is and people as they are. In nearly the same scene, he announces to all the Southern gentlemen present that their beloved South has no chance to win the war. Moments later, he informs Scarlett that he will have her as surely as the South will lose the war.
As the first half proceeds, the audience can see the proud South slowly crumble under the might of the industrial North. This crumbling is measured in blighted landscapes and human lives lost. One of the most powerful scenes in any movie is the one in which Scarlett leaves the Confederate hospital because she is too spent to care for the constant influx of dead and dying men. As she emerges into the sunlight, the camera lingers on a few bodies lying in the street, then expands into a vast panorama of thousands more waiting helplessly for women like Scarlett to tend to them. It is this vision of a dying way of life that propels the first half into Scarlett's return to Tara.
Her metamorphosis from vain party girl to a driven monomania for money is punctuated by the impossibly dramatic silhouette of Scarlett ripping out shrubs and eating them raw, all the while shaking her fist at God promising Him that she will prevail.
Following the intermission, the pace of the film slows and becomes less sweep and more soap opera. Events happen in a whirl. Scarlett has one husband, then another, a child is born, a child dies, a husband leaves her. The finale of Rhett storming out into the night with his now cliched 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn,' is the final lesson that Scarlett has to learn. She has stepped on those whose only offense was to love her. Ironically, as she gains the riches that she thought she wanted more than anything else, she now sees those riches as hollow as the magnificent but empty mansion in which she now lives quite alone.
The amount of pity that the audience feels for Scarlett is a function of how they evaluate her justification for the pursuit of wealth. Scarlett may be wounded at the end, but if the audience feels a lack of pity for her, then surely they also see a woman whose bravado has stood her in good stead often during past crises. Her new solitary existence promises to be the most severe test yet of that bravado.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS is a REAL SPECIAL EDITION!!!, November 9, 2004

special edition is tossed around far too often in this day of sales and hype...NOT so in the case of this marvelous collection! First..the movie...A STUNNING mastering job...of a DVD that frankly I thought was already pretty darned good in its previous edition. Second..the BONUS features...are jaw dropping...the making of film , which has been available on LD and VHS is thankfully well as several other documentaries on the film itself...

NOW the most amazing of all...are the bios and featurettes on the supporting cast AND the main stars...which are all extremely well done! But the real highlight is MELANIE REMEMBERS....amazingly they have a recent interview of the star Olivia DeHavilland. I had no idea this legend was still alive...but ALIVE is what she is in this fascinating segment which she vividly recalls the filming of the movie ...she is animated and quite charming!

all in all the most comprehensive DVD set ever issued for a movie and as WB have lavished this attention on perhaps the most beloved film in history...KUDOS! 50 stars....

don't even think twice about this purchase and buy them for christmas gifts...I just ordered several copies for such!
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