Gone with the Wind
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Gone with the Wind

 

Blu-ray

DVD

Undoubtedly, one of the greatest achievements of humanity’s Al ability to express ourselves to a plethora of artistic media, from monumental achievements in architecture to delicate brushstrokes adorning a piece of silk, mankind has always sought to not only craft items that it will practical use, but most importantly to create objects that serve to elicit an emotional response within the viewer. Unfortunately, as with all works of mankind, they are subject to time and unforeseen circumstances. For many years now works of both paintings and statues and even buildings have been carefully a meticulously restored. True cinephiles have been supporting efforts to restore films serve so well to chronicle our history a very specific fashion. One of the side benefits of this restoration effort is that in many cases, the end result of such arduous work are released on high definition Blu-ray, potentially making them available to more people than might ever have seen the original. It also ensures that the best examples of the original elements of audio and video diligently retained in safety. One of the great American ethics of all time is undoubtedly the 1939 MGM release of ‘Gone with the Wind’. At the time this was one of the most ambitious translations of a popular novel to the screen. Only three years before, in 1936, the novel by Margaret Mitchell was a worldwide bestseller. Movies were relatively new at this point in an epic endeavor featuring a video in stunning Technicolor accompanied with multitrack audio. Although there was a 70 mm print with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the best source material for restoration was found in the 1.37:1 original negatives. The market 75th anniversary, Warner Bros. has released the deluxe package under the banner of special collector’s edition. As a person who has been collecting movies in one form or another for most of my life I have placed this set on a shelf set aside for such magnificent treatments of truly classic movies. There exist besides deluxe sets for ‘the Wizard of Oz’, ‘Ben Hur’ and ‘the Sound of Music’. All of these such share something important in common; they are examples of the grandeur of American cinema and the respect the studio has for the audience by providing something special to commemorate milestones in the history of these films.

At this point in time, I don’t feel it absolutely necessary to go over the details synopsis of the story. Most people have any interest in movies has undoubtedly seen this classic art on one of his many television appearances, and art-house retrospective, or perhaps a previous DVD release. Set towards the end of the American Civil War, the main character is a young, southern woman, Scarlet O’Hara (Vivien Leigh). As a daughter of the prominent landowner, the character of Scarlet was able to exemplify the attitudes of the genteel Southern aristocrat. The dashing young man determined to have Miss Scarlet swoon is the dashing rapscallion, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), extensively visiting from Charleston. The fact that Scarlet already has a beau, Brent Tarleton (George Reeves), is completely irrelevant to the visiting scoundrel. So many aspects of this film have been woven into our popular culture, that even 70 years later they are still instantly recognizable by most. The scene where Scarlet, her hands digging in the dirt for some form of sustenance, crying out to the heavens, "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

She has fallen from a position in high society but Scarlet refuses to let go of the appearance of finery. The resourceful Scarlet fashions an evening gown from the opulent drapes that once adorned the Windows of the plantation’s home. Back in 1939, it shocked the sensibilities of many decent people to hear Clark Gable other line of dialogue that remains one of the most recognizable quotes in cinematic history; "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" It might be hard to believe from today’s far more liberal standards of language, but back then, "damn," was hardly a word you heard in entertainment. This is also augmented by the fact that he was about to carry Scarlet upstairs to ‘have his way with her.’ This now chauvinistic scene is by far not the most controversial to be attached to the movie.

Many audience members from our more enlightened society are outraged by the portrayal of butterfly McQueen as Prissy, a household slave. Of famous line, "Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies." Some have radically suggested the excision of these scenes or digital manipulation of them into something more politically correct by today’s standards. A movie like this is intended to be a tableau trapped in amber, reminding us of how the past once was, and the social progress they have made since then. More than just the technical excellence and artistic craftsmanship that made this movie such an iconic representation of cinema, it reminds us of how people with the means solely because of race or gender. This is not only a man’s world; it was very much a white, land owner, man’s world. The film did manage to strike a blow for civil rights decades before that movement would make significant progress. The African-American actress Hattie McCoy won an Academy award for best supporting actress for her role as Mammy, one of the senior house slaves. Because the premiere of the film was held in a Lancer Ms. McCoy was not permitted to attend a white theater for the event. Clark cable was so outraged he threatened to boycott the premier until Ms. McCoy talked him into it. Although there was still issues that are racially motivated, a film like this does provide a testament to the progress that has been made.

At the 12th Academy Awards ceremony, ‘Gone with the Wind’, it would receive a staggering 10 Academy award nominations, winning 10 of them. Although Max Steiner was nominated for his brilliant and memorable score, he failed to take home the Oscar. Still, the sweeping main theme, ‘Tara’s Theme’ remains one of the most recognizable pieces of music ever, and certainly one of the most famous theme songs from a movie. Considering the choices of audio presented here, you are going to hear this sweeping score has never heard before:

bulletAudio tracks
bulletEnglish Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
bullet
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Mono
Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono
bulletExtras from previously released editions
bulletAudio Commentary by historian Rudy Behlmer
The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind
1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year
Gone With the Wind: The Legend Lives On
Gable: The King Remembered
Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond
Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland
Made-for-Television Movie - Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War
The Supporting Players
Restoring a Legend
Vintage Newsreel Footage
Vintage Short Subject: The Old South
Atlanta Civil War Centennial
Additional Footage - International Prologue and Foreign Language Excerpts
Theatrical Trailers
6-Hour Documentary - MGM: When the Lion Roars
bulletHigh Definition extras
bulletOld South/New South documentary
Gone With the Wind: Hollywood Comes to Atlanta - Premiere and Tour of Atlanta Footage
bulletCollectible Packaging
bulletReplica of Rhett Butler’s handkerchief
bulletMusic box paperweight playing Tara’s theme with an image on top of the Rhett-Scarlett kiss.
bullet36-page companion booklet featuring a look at the immortal style of Gone with the Wind, written by New York fashion designer and Project Runway finalist Austin Scarlett, whose signature look reflects the romantic elegance of the Gone with the Wind era.

Posted 10/16/2014

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