|Gone With The Wind |
Limited Edition Deluxe Box Set
Actors: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O'Neil, Evelyn Keyes
Directors: George Cukor, Sam Wood, Victor Fleming
Genres: Drama, Military & War
David O. Selznick wanted Gone with the Wind to be somehow more than a movie, a film that would broaden the very idea of what a film could be and do and look like. In many respects he got what he worked so hard to achieve i... more »
Near-Perfect Edition of Hollywood Classic...
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 12/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!
A Classic but it's NOT for everyone!
Benjamin J Burgraff | 07/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I used to think that this Hollywood classic was for everyone. However, after reading nearly 300 reviews of the film, I think that isn't true anymore. This movie is NOT for you IF 1) you think a movie must be as historically accurate as a history book, 2) you think a 1939 movie should reflect the values of the 21st century, 3) your attention span is so short that you must only see movies from 90-120 minutes in length, 4) you can only accept politically correct films, particularly in terms of racial issues, 5) you are so DUMB as to think widescreen movies were made before the 1950s (although to be fair, Selznik originally intended to use a special widescreen process for the so-called "burning of Atlanta" sequence but gave up on the expensive idea), 6) you can only accept computerized special effects as they appear in modern films, or 7) your idea of great acting is to be found in slasher or teen films being made these days.GWTW is NOT a documentary on the Civil War period. It is NOT a history of slavery in America. It is NOT a story of perfect people behaving perfectly at all times. It IS an adaptation of a novel written by a Southern woman who, as a child, sat and listened to the stories the old Confederate veterans told about the old days before, during, and after THE war. It IS a love story, probably about the novelist's grandmother, which reflects the attitudes left over from that long-ago time. To criticize this film for so many unrelated issues is silly. It stands on its merits as a masterful film that tells of bittersweet love and lost fantasy. That it succeeds so well is a tribute to the actors and filmmakers of over sixty years ago."
Southern Mythology at its Most Memorable
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 12/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Technical Consideration for "Bewildered in Iowa"
D. Paul Dalton | Dallas, TX USA | 11/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 . . ."