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Review - Gone with the Wind: 70th Anniversary Edition (2009)
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Gone with the Wind: 70th Anniversary Ed. (2009)

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Gone with the Wind - 70thAnniversary Edition (DVD-2009)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Dennis Kwiatkowski

It was only a few years ago that we reviewed on Celluloid Dreams the four-disc Collector’s Edition DVD set of Gone with the Wind. That spectacular and definitive edition, along with the multi-disc DVD set of The Wizard of Oz (which was released a short time later) represented ultimate versions of these great films in terms of the superb supplementary materials provided and the truly magnificent restored and remastered film transfers.

Normally, it would be quite some time for such supreme editions to give way to major new reissues—even in an age where new packaging and quick re-releases are common in order to keep a film fresh in viewers’ minds and reach a new generation of viewers as well as to make some extra bucks. But those recent definitive editions would have sold well for years. And both Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz (along with 2001: A Space Odyssey) are already among the most preserved and protected films in the industry—each has more than one protected negative.

No. It was rather the advent of Blu-Ray and the advances in digital technology that inspired Warner Home Video to put forth a great deal of effort, money and care into creating the new, very special DVD ultimate edition of Gone with the Wind.

As a film, Gone with the Wind needs no introduction. It was a cinematic blockbuster from the moment it was released in 1939. Numerous theatrical reissues, special television presentations, videos, laserdiscs and DVDs later, its fame has scarcely diminished. This sweeping tale of the life of Scarlett O’Hara, set in the old south during the Civil War captured an epic grandeur and remains a masterful example of storytelling.

The performances by Vivian Leigh as Scarlett and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler (as well as those of the superb supporting cast) are classic in every sense of the word. The production features surpassing excellence in every category: acting, direction, production design, art direction, cinematography, music score, writing, editing, special effects, costumes and more. It is also the most successful film in movie history. When its box office grosses are adjusted for inflation, it leaves all the other blockbusters in the dust--all of them.

The new Gone with the Wind DVD is available in an ultimate edition Blu-Ray and an ultimate edition standard DVD set, as well as an inexpensive bare-bones standard DVD. The ultimate editions contain all the extra supplements and documentaries from the previous edition as well as a few new ones along with art prints, the original program, print materials and a commemorative book and CD sampler. These extras are superlative and make the ultimate edition the ultimate gift for a loved one.

If you already have the earlier 4-disc collector’s DVD set of Gone with the Wind from 2004, which already contains many of the extras mentioned, you still need to obtain at least the new bare-bones standard DVD, and here is why: even on standard DVD, this new edition of Gone with the Wind has got to be seen and heard to be believed. On Blu-Ray it is out of this world. But even on standard DVD it is a spectacular improvement over the 2004 ultra-resolution DVD set.

Simply stated, the picture features a sharpness, clarity and detail that has never been seen. You will be astonished by the nuance and new details you will see for the first time. The color is incredibly vivid. The dialogue tracks are exceptionally clean and the great music score by Max Steiner, one of the greatest in all of film, attains a clarity, detail and beauty that will captivate you. . (Like the stunning new ultimate edition of Wizard of Oz) the new Gone With the Wind DVD will make you feel as though you are seeing the film for the very first time. Some scenes literally look like they were shot yesterday—that’s how good it looks.

That a film made 70 years ago can be just as affecting and moving today as it was when it first premiered is a testament to the archetypes and artistry involved in the production as well as to the labor of love brought to this current restoration. Both Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz represent the pinnacle of Hollywood filmmaking and these brand new Blu-Ray and standard DVD editions do full justice to them and go well beyond what has come before. We can only be grateful that Warner Home Video has put forth such effort to preserve these cultural icons so that these stunning DVD treasures are available for our edification and viewing pleasure.

2009 Dennis Kwiatkowski/Celluloid Dreams

 

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