- Actors: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Ann Rutherford, Hattie McDaniel
- Directors: Victor Fleming
- Format: Dolby, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Restored
- Language: English
- Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
- Number of discs: 2
- Rated: Not RatedNR
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Run Time: 238 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3,843 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00A2KDDIY
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,550 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
Gone With the Wind (70th Anniversary Edition)
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Period romance. War epic. Family saga. Popular fiction adapted with crowd-pleasing brilliance. Star acting aglow with charisma and passion. Moviemaking craft at its height. These are sublimely joined in the words Gone with the Wind. This dynamic and durable screen entertainment of the Civil War-era South comes home with the renewed splendor of a New 70th-Anniversary Digital Transfer capturing a higher-resolution image from Restored Picture Elements than ever before possible. David O. Selznick’s monumental production of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book can now enthrall new generations of home viewers with a majestic vibrance that befits one of Hollywood’s greatest achievements.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 lying about how badly he wanted to play Rhett Butler and how 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 score 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.
"the 1954 reissue was the first time the film was shown in widescreen, compromising the original Academy ratio and cropping the top and bottom to an aspect ratio of 1.75:1. In doing so, a number of shots were optically re-framed and cut into the three-strip camera negatives, forever altering five shots in the film." - Haver, Ronald (1993). David O. Selznick's Gone with the wind. Random House.
On to my review in which I will discuss more of this restoration and special edition rather than the film itself:
This is hailed as one of the greatest films of all time, and I agree with the majority. The film won 8 of the 13 Academy Awards it was nominated for including Best Picture. It ranked #4 on the AFI '100 Years... 100 Movies' list. Though the film has received criticism for it's depiction of slavery, it remains one of the most enduring films of all time.
The restoration of this version is simply perfect. The technology restored the film beyond the original 35mm Technicolor format. Gladly, the 70mm 'widescreen' reissue reels have all faded and been destroyed. The funny thing is the couple of scenes where the HD is so clear that the viewer can see the little 'glitches'. They aren't too noticeable, and it is stunning that a film this old has just a few of these. (You notice it in the distance shots of Tara most often.)
The extra features are a lot of fun. The book included was very interesting and a welcome addition. The music box is great - it plays Tara's theme. The handkerchief is cool, but more of a nostalgic bonus than anything.
Note the Ultraviolet copy must be redeemed by 9/30/2017. Also be aware that used copies might already have the Ultraviolet copy redeemed.
Should you own this release? If you don't have the 70th Anniversary on Blu-Ray then YES. (We have the 70th on DVD so we did pick this up). It is currently the definitive version of Gone With the Wind. In coming years, there might be better releases, but I don't foresee something better than this at this attractive a price in the next decade or so ($35.69 w/Prime was my purchase price).
The listing here is from the Warner Brothers website:
"MUST ENTER REDEMPTION CODE BY 09/30/2017 TO REDEEM ULTRAVIOLET(tm) OFFER. [...]
INCLUDES COLLECTIBLE MUSIC BOX AND HANDKERCHIEF, PLUS STUNNING 36-PAGE BOOK - Join Acclaimed Fashion Designer Austin Scarlett in Exploring the Monumental Fashion of the Film, the Historical and Cultural Events That Inspired It, and the Continuing Influence of Scarlett O'Hara and Her Unforgettable Gowns on Contemporary Designers
Two all new Featurettes: · Old South/New South · Gone with the Wind: Hollywood Comes to Atlanta
Also includes: · Commentary by Historian Rudy Behlmer · The Making of a Legend documentary (1989 TV Special) (Narrated by Christopher Plummer) · Restoring a Legend - Chronicles the Film/ Video restoration Process · 1939 Premiere Newsreel · 1940 MGM Historical Short "The Old South" · 1961 Premiere Newsreel · International Prologue · Foreign Language Version Sample Scenes · Trailer Gallery - 5 trailers · Cast Profile - Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond · The Supporting Players - Cameo portraits of an unforgettable ensemble · Warner Bros. Home Entertainment presents 1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year - Narrated by Kenneth Branagh · Gone with the Wind: The Legend Lives On --> Explore the legacy of the most beloved film through illuminating interviews, footage and visits to historical sites, events and museums. · Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War 1980 WBTV Special · Existing Special never before seen on home video release"