Gone with the wind: Original Look vs. Collector's edition DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Rick Z., Apr 4, 2005.

  1. Rick Z.

    Rick Z. Stunt Coordinator

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    Around the time the 4 disc Collector's edition DVD came out, Robert Harris stated that the restoration was "utterly and undeniably perfect" (and it does look gorgeous indeed).

    He also says that it was "a beautiful representation of the original intent restored to perfection". However it's here where I got kinda confused since Mr. Harris himself has said that three strip technicolor from that time had very muted colors and an overall sepia look. The new DVD looks nothing like that (at least to me it seems to have very eye popping colors).

    Maybe he was praising the restoration in the same sense he praised the restoration of The Adventures of Robin Hood, where the look had been changed in order to modernize it for today's audiences??

    After Mr. Harris wrote about the DVD everyone just went wild writing about how cool it was to have his approval (as I did too, since I respect his opinion a lot and always read his column at The Digital Bits). However, no one wrote about the original look of the film in comparison to the DVD's look and after all, Mr. Harris did say "A beautiful representation of the ORIGINAL INTENT".

    Any thoughts on this? Does anyone think I misundertood something regarding his statement?

    and by the way... does anyone know which shots are the ones that were cropped for the 1954 reissue and if the were reinstated in their correct ratio for this DVD?
     
  2. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Cropped shots: Scarlett running down the driveway of Tara
    Cattle being led down a hill at dusk
    The sign of Twelve Oaks during the BBQ
    Shot of Monster Bazaar Sign
    Shot of train pulling in at depot
    Final shot of train depot with wounded
    Melanie running down hill at Tara to greet
    Ashley

    These are the ones I recall. AFAI these shots have been zoomed in to avoid the bars at the bottom of the screen. The vertical panning is gone, so the shots are closer to their original counterparts. Some image is lost due to the zooming.
     
  3. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    I was not overly impressed with ROBIN HOOD, myself.
    The colors did seem too muted-they didnt have the rich, "technicolor" look, as oh, say, the WIZARD OF OZ.
    But all other accolades to WARNERS for an excellent package;
     
  4. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    The original overall color of GWTW was more sepia than the current DVD, but certainly as rich in its own way as the Special Edition. I had the fortune to see an original nitrate print of the film back in '79 and was blown away by it, riveted to my seat over the incredibly rich colors (I had, until then, only seen bad Eastmancolor prints of the film).

    1930's Technicolor in general was more muted than 1940's Technicolor. I think I read somewhere that in the early days, it was believed that audiences would not be able to tolerate a lot of bright colors for 2 hours or so. This is why GWTW was in some ways so innovative, in that it was a four-hour color film with a rich color design that emphasized the drama over the technology.
     
  5. Rick Z.

    Rick Z. Stunt Coordinator

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    is there somewhere around the net where there are original film frame captures so we can make a direct comparison?anyone?
     
  6. Ray-M

    Ray-M Agent

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    There are some good screen comparisons over at dvdbeaver.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Scans from a dye transfer print of GWTW would be meaningless as they are not easily scannable. In addition, they cannot be properly viewed as every monitor would be different.

    The only way to accurately view a nitrate print would be on a screen, and via illumination from a carbon arc.

    A scan would make one of these prints look dark and colorless.

    RAH
     
  8. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    What's this about cropped shots in GONE WITH THE WIND? Are some shots now not able to be seen as they were upon the original 1939 release???
     
  9. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    For the 1954 reissue, the film was presented as widescreen, with material cropped at the top and bottom. This was done by printing from the negative at one sprocket higher than one normally would, so that more was cropped from the bottom than was at the top.

    In a couple of shots, this just wasn't working so they were removed from the negative, reformatted optically, and the new, cropped and zoomed-in element recut back into the negative. So the original formatting of those shots are lost forever.

    ...or something like that. [​IMG] I welcome corrections.
     
  10. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    OH MY GOD...that's crazy! I had no idea...what the hell were they thinking?

    So, now these zoomed-in cropped shots are cropped even more, to get rid of the black bars and have it match the rest of the full-frame presentation? And there are eight of these corrupted shots/scenes?

    I'm absolutely aghast.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    While the original shots purportedly survive in a nitrate print in China, the one perf vertical adjustment (which was made to protect the bottom of the frame for the 1954 1.66:1 release) was approved by Mr. Selznick.

    It would be nice to have the original footage, but I doubt that anyone would notice the difference if they were not told about the problem.
     
  12. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    Actually, I don't think it looks that bad anymore, since the awkward pans have been corrected.
     
  13. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Strange question if that's exactly what just was explained. [​IMG]


    Cees
     
  14. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    Not strange at all...I know WHY they cropped them, but the fact that the original shots from the negative weren't saved is maddening, i.e. what the hell were they thinking not saving the original negative shots, ya know, for when they might want to release it again in the original aspect ratio, i.e. for television? THAT'S what I meant.
     
  15. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Jeffrey,

    So you're glad now that your assumption appeared not to be true.


    Cees
     
  16. Darren Gross

    Darren Gross Supporting Actor

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    While certainly scans of a nitrate print would be too dark an unreadable, surely one can take a frame grab or two and adjust it in photoshop to try to make it as close an approximation as possible...

    As long as one has a reference frame as a template we could get in the ballpark somewhat...
     
  17. seanOhara

    seanOhara Supporting Actor

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    Someone once told me that the widescreen version was later cropped and used for television airings. Anyone know if that's true?
     
  18. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Actually, there wasn't a 1954 "widescreen version" of the whole movie.

    The idea, according to the late Ronald Haver's invaluable book about David Selznick, was to project the film at a 1.66:1 aspect ratio by masking off the bottom of the frame in the projector (not top and bottom). Selznick's staff studied the film to determine if this would upset the composition to a great degree.

    They determined that the film would play well if projected this way with the exception of a few key shots. These shots, and these shots alone (Scarlett running down the hill, etc) were printed one sprocket hole up and copied onto Eastmancolor negative. These Eastmancolor dupes were then cut into the original negative to make new Technicolor printing matrices with the originals discarded.

    This is why there are certain shots that have been a problem ever since, but no cropped widescreen version of the whole film was ever prepared until the 1967 abomination, and that wasn't the basis of the television prints.
     
  19. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    Cees, re-read my post. My assumption >is< true; the negative trims were not saved. The shots as originally formatted only exist in a Chinese nitrate print. If these shots had been saved in negative form, we'd have a bit better chance of seeing them back in the film proper on DVD.

    And as far as the 1.66 version and bastardized shots thereof being approved by David O. Selznick, he was the producer, not the director(s). Thank god that only those shots were permanently altered, and the rest was just matted during projection...how lame it would have been if they would have duped the whole negative one sprocket up and got rid of the entire original.
     
  20. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Sure, but Selznick had far greater artistic control of the production than all the directors.
     

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