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Gone With the Wind: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

12 Nov, 2009 By: John Latchem

Gone With the Wind

Street 11/17/09
$24.98 two-DVD set
$69.92 five-DVD set
$84.99 three-disc Blu-ray
Rated ‘G.’
Stars Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel.

Just as Gone With the Wind is both a timeless classic and an artifact of its time, the 70th anniversary set is both an exhilarating presentation of the film and an important chronicle of its place in the evolution of filmmaking.

The success of Gone With the Wind, which adjusted for inflation is still the all-time top box office earner, illustrated the value of preserving films for potential re-release, a philosophy that would pay dividends with the advent of home video.

The beautiful new Blu-ray transfer of the film is simply an extension of the Ultra Resolution process used for the 2004 DVD remaster. The results are stunning. Some shots look as if they were filmed yesterday, while others are more susceptible to the vagaries of time, exposing seams in visual effects that 70 years ago were revolutionary. The higher capacity of Blu-ray also finally allows the nearly four-hour movie to fit onto a single disc.

In addition to the extensive bonus content from the 2004 DVD release, the 70th anniversary edition adds three new extras to further explore this legacy.

First up is “Gone With the Wind: The Legend Lives On,” which explores how the film has endured over the years, and how society’s attitudes toward some of the themes in the film have changed.

The 2009 TV special 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year posits that Gone With the Wind was the highlight of the year that represented the peak of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

The most welcome new inclusion is the terrific 1980 TV movie Moviola: The Scarlett O’Hara War, a fictionalization of producer David O' Selznick's highly publicized search to find the perfect actress to play the heroine of Margaret Mitchell’s epic Civil War novel. The movie is probably more of a love letter to the Golden Age of Hollywood than a faithful chronicle of the events leading to the perfect casting of Vivien Leigh.

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