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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: GONE WITH THE WIND 70th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION



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#1 of 43 Timothy E

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Posted November 17 2009 - 11:21 AM


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GONE WITH THE WIND   Posted Image

Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Year: 1939

Rated: G

Film Length: 3 hours, 58 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 1080p (1.37:1)

Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound, restored English Monaural soundtrack, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, restored Spanish Monaural soundtrack, restored Portuguese Monaural soundtrack, restored Japanese Monaural soundtrack

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish

Release Date: November 17, 2009

The Movie


On the 70th Anniversary of the theatrical release of Gone With the Wind, how can anyone say anything that has not already been said about this seminal film? Anyone who has seen this film is probably uninterested in reading a complete summary of the plot, and anyone who has not seen this film does not want to read spoilers. Since no plot summary can do this film justice, I will attempt to be as brief as possible: On the eve of the Civil War, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) is a spoiled Southern belle who pines away for the man she can never have, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is the scoundrel who is smitten with Scarlett but is rarely the object of her affections. This star-crossed romance takes place against the backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction as the South is decimated by the War Between the States.

Following its theatrical release in 1939, Gone With The Wind won 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Vivien Leigh), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Hattie McDaniel). This was an impressive feat given that the year 1939 produced so many enduring film classics. At the time, this film was one of the most expensive films ever produced, and taking inflation into account, remains one of the most profitable films of all time.

This 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition marks the first time that this film has been produced in high definition on Blu-Ray disc. This edition comes in an elegant, illustrated velvet box, which is individually numbered out of a production of 150,000 units, with a plethora of extras, including the following: 2 Blu-Ray discs and 1 DVD in a sturdy foldout cardboard sleeve with clear plastic holders for the discs; an illustrated hardcover book of 40 pages; a reproduction of the original theatrical program from 1939; reproductions of various studio memoranda and telegrams during production; a CD soundtrack sampler; and 8 frame-able art prints measuring 5" by 7". I was skeptical about this packaging when it was first announced but I must concede that this is a beautiful package even though it takes up considerably more shelf space than a regular Blu-Ray case.

Video

The movie is entirely on Disc 1 in 1080p in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The only occasion on which I had the opportunity to see Gone With The Wind on the big screen was during its brief theatrical reissue in 1998. I am more impressed with the video presentation on this BD than I was with the theatrical presentation. Detail is perceptible on this Blu-Ray that I do not remember seeing in the theater, much less on the 2004 DVD release. From the burning of Atlanta to the interior scenes at Tara, the presentation throughout defies any criticism.

Some early recipients of this Blu-Ray have criticized the color timing on this transfer. It is more than 10 years since I saw this film on a big screen, and my memory is hazy, even assuming that the print I saw in 1998 was an accurate reproduction of the 1939 prints, which it probably was not. My impression is that this is the best transfer of a technicolor film to Blu-Ray that I have ever seen, including the recent, excellent release of The Wizard of Oz. Colors are vibrant and flesh tones are natural, and the actual quality must be seen to be believed because words cannot describe adequately the superior quality of this video presentation.

Audio

The English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround Sound track is the default track with the restored English monaural track and other tracks accessible through the disc menu. Dialogue is appropriately through the center channel on the surround sound mix with other speakers used for percussive effects and to supplement the music score by Max Steiner.

Special Features


The first disc contains the entire film with optional audio commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer. Disc 2 consists entirely of special features organized into one of the following 4 categories: Behind the Story, Trailers, Extras, and Additional Footage. The special features are in mostly in standard definition and upscaled, and include all of the following:

Making of A Legend (2:03:36): This is a TV documentary produced by Turner Home Entertainment in 1989 regarding the making of Gone With The Wind.

1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year (1:08:20): This new documentary narrated by Kenneth Branagh puts Gone With The Wind in historical context with the other notable films released that same year.

Gone With The Wind: The Legend Lives On (32:44): This new documentary explores the legacy of Gone With The Wind with interviews, archival footage, and visits to historical sites, events, and museums.

Gable: The King Remembered (1:05:03): Clark Gable was initially reluctant to play Rhett Butler, and this documentary covers his entire career.

Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond (46:05): Documentary about Vivien Leigh hosted and narrated by Jessica Lange.

Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland (36:43): Olivia de Havilland offers her recollections in this interview done in 2004 for the DVD special edition.

The Supporting Players: There are brief character portraits of 17 supporting characters showing footage from the film with narration describing each character. The characters appear in subcategories of one of the following categories: At Tara, Their Daughters, The House Servants, At Twelve Oaks, In Atlanta, and Exit.

Restoring A Legend (17:43): Documentary explaining the Ultra Resolution Process used in producing this high definition transfer.

Dixie Hails (4:01): An original News of the Day newsreel from 1939 regarding the film’s premiere.

The Old South (11:19): Fred Zinneman directed this historical short which describes the history of the South. This short was produced specifically for promoting the film.

Atlanta Civil War Centennial (3:40): Footage from the Civil War Centennial in 1961 attended by stars Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland.

Trailers: Trailers for the film including the original 1939 Announcement Trailer, the Civil War Centennial Trailer from 1961, the 70 mm Reissue Trailer from 1967, the Reissue Trailer from 1968, and the 50th Anniversary Trailer from 1989.

Movieola: The Scarlett O’Hara War (1:37:23): Tony Curtis played producer David O’Selznick in this 1980 TV movie detailing the exhaustive search for an actress to play Scarlett O’Hara.

Additional Footage: Included here is the International Prologue (1:16) which consisted of an upward text crawl summarizing the historical background of the film and a short featurette (2:37) showing portions of the film dubbed into other languages.

In addition, the 3rd disc is a double sided DVD of the 6 hour documentary MGM: When The Lion Roars. This documentary of the history of MGM Studios premiered on the TNT television network in 1992. The Home Theater Forum’s Ken McAlinden has provided an excellent review and summary of this documentary which can be viewed at: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/forum/thread/281429/htf-dvd-review-mgm-when-the-lion-roars.

Conclusion


It might be possible that Gone With The Wind could look better with present technology but I do not know how. Likewise, the special features are so comprehensive that there is not much else that could be included. I especially appreciate the inclusion of the Movieola telefilm starring Tony Curtis.  The retail price may seem steep for consumers who want to purchase the film in high definition without all of the extras: In the U.S., Target stores have an exclusive single disc edition which I understand will have wider distribution in a few months after the expiration of Target’s exclusivity period. Since the Ultimate Collector’s Edition can be obtained, by shopping around, for only 10 dollars or so more than the single disc edition, this UCE is well worth the money. Warner Brothers has produced an excellent transfer of one of the greatest films of all time, with packaging and extras worthy of the film. May they meet or exceed this high standard for all of their future releases.
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#2 of 43 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 17 2009 - 01:32 PM

I was waiting for this review, Timothy.

Thanks!  It was worth the wait.  Well done.

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#3 of 43 TonyD

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Posted November 18 2009 - 05:43 PM

I've never seen this movie.

phew there I said it.

I have the special edition set from a  few years ago but somehow never got around to watching it.
Won't be buying this current box set but will rent it from netflix and finally after all these years will see Gone With the Wind.

Hmm what other classics haven't I seen yet......

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#4 of 43 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 19 2009 - 01:54 AM

You're in for a treat, Tony.

Just be aware, going in, that you've got to set aside 4 hours for this puppy. 

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#5 of 43 TonyD

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Posted November 19 2009 - 10:11 AM

I know it's that long, somehow I just never got around to it.

Maybe I've just been waiting for a hi res version such as we have now.

If I can get to Target next Fridiay I'll pick it up for $12.99.

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#6 of 43 Brian Borst

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Posted November 20 2009 - 09:58 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD 

I've never seen this movie.

phew there I said it.

I have the special edition set from a  few years ago but somehow never got around to watching it.
Won't be buying this current box set but will rent it from netflix and finally after all these years will see Gone With the Wind.

Hmm what other classics haven't I seen yet......
I'm not even embarrassed by the fact that I've never seen it, but about the fact that the four disc dvd is in my collection for about a year or so. I never got got around to seeing it. Now I want to see it, but I might as well wait for the Blu-ray to arrive. Since my mother loves the film, the SE dvd will go to her. This way everybody's happy.

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#7 of 43 CraigF

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Posted November 20 2009 - 12:02 PM

I'm another one who kept the 4-disc DVD set on my shelf for a couple years before watching. Didn't think I'd like it, had never seen the whole thing (I later found out) but didn't like what I remembered. Was going to force myself to watch it...eventually. So...I ended up quite liking it. Not nearly as cheesy as I had thought when much younger. I think the movie-only BD release would be best suited for me, since I already have a lot of the SD extras and can decently upscale them at my end.


#8 of 43 Aaron Silverman

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Posted November 23 2009 - 07:31 AM

Meh -- the book was better.  :)


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#9 of 43 David_B_K

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Posted November 24 2009 - 01:44 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigF 

I think the movie-only BD release would be best suited for me, since I already have a lot of the SD extras and can decently upscale them at my end.
Considering the price of the movie-only BD (unless you snag it on Black Friday), I recommend the 2-disc UK edition. You get all the extras from the 4-disc DVD version on the second BD, and it includes that recent TCM documentary on the great films of 1939, which is worthwhile, IMO and not included in the 2004 DVD set. My Amazon.uk order came to around $26.65 shipped. I'll probably give my 4-disc DVD set to one of my non-HD relatives.

I don't think I ever actually watched all of the 2004 version, either. I've seen the movie many times, and I think I only demo'd a few scenes in that version. I've demo'd a few scenes of the BD and hope to set aside 4 hours after Thanksgiving for the whole thing.



#10 of 43 TonyD

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Posted November 24 2009 - 01:24 PM

My wife and I watched it today.

The blu-ray presentation was fabulous, the movie was beautiful.
As for the movie itself, well......

If you are really wondering what I thought send me a pm.


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#11 of 43 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 24 2009 - 01:42 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD 

If you are really wondering what I thought send me a pm.
Uh oh......

/img/vbsmilies/htf/biggrin.gif


There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


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#12 of 43 Steve Tannehill

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Posted November 24 2009 - 02:32 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD 

If you are really wondering what I thought send me a pm.
 
Post it here!  You're among friends.

I watched it yesterday, and it was a Melodrama with a capital M.  Over-the-top Acting with a capital A.  And I liked it.  But I can see how this would not be everyone's cup of tea.

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#13 of 43 TonyD

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Posted November 24 2009 - 02:36 PM

I don't know maybe, I didn't want to look like I was dumping on a movie that so many people love.

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#14 of 43 CraigF

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Posted November 24 2009 - 03:18 PM



Quote:
Originally Posted by David_B_K 




Considering the price of the movie-only BD (unless you snag it on Black Friday), I recommend the 2-disc UK edition. You get all the extras from the 4-disc DVD version on the second BD, and it includes that recent TCM documentary on the great films of 1939, which is worthwhile, IMO and not included in the 2004 DVD set. My Amazon.uk order came to around $26.65 shipped. I'll probably give my 4-disc DVD set to one of my non-HD relatives.
 
Thanks for the info. I do actually have a few items in my UK amazon wish list that I was intending to get soon. I presume this is playable on a Region A BDP? It is unavailable right now though...no thanks to you maybe? /img/vbsmilies/htf/laugh.gif


#15 of 43 Scott Merryfield

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Posted November 24 2009 - 11:38 PM

I decided a few days ago to go ahead and order the U.K. version, too. I'll be avoiding the whole "Black Friday" shopping mess, so the single-disc Target version was no longer an option. Both GWTW and Batman Returns are already on their away across the pond to my doorstep. It's been awhile since I've watched this film all the way through, so I am really looking forward to getting this title now.


#16 of 43 David_B_K

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Posted November 25 2009 - 02:46 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by CraigF 

Thanks for the info. I do actually have a few items in my UK amazon wish list that I was intending to get soon. I presume this is playable on a Region A BDP? It is unavailable right now though...no thanks to you maybe?
My copy arrived Monday, so I may well have been one of the last to get one. Both the movie and the extra features on disc 2 will play in a region A player.



#17 of 43 Robin9

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Posted November 25 2009 - 04:11 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Tannehill 

I watched it yesterday, and it was a Melodrama with a capital M.  Over-the-top Acting with a capital A.  And I liked it.  But I can see how this would not be everyone's cup of tea.
 
With all due respect etc., only the second half is Melodrama with a capital A. The first half plus the beginning of the second half is a really good story, brilliantly told.


#18 of 43 TonyD

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Posted November 25 2009 - 04:30 AM

I always feel like whenever someone says with all due respect it still sounds like I'm being insulted.
How about saying the same thing without the all due respect.

something like, "I thought the second half was yes but the first half was was a brilliantly told story."

Anyway, I guess after that I might as well mention what I thought of the movie.


I loved the opening logo and the very beginning was good.
Vivian Leigh was miscast, she wasn't beautiful in the way she needed to be to have all these men fawning all about her the entire movie.


Scarlett O Hara must have been the least sympathetic heroin I have ever seen in such an important movie. All she did was whine and cry the entire film.
More like Pathetic.

The very instant their daughter climbed onto a horse it was obvious what was going to happen.

the soundtrack was too sappy, I could have taken the movie more serious without the sappy soundtrack.
I couldn't wait for it to end and when it finally did I felt just like Rhett Butler.


Now I am not saying the movie is a joke it is obviously a very well made and iconic film, but
as it ended I felt like someone had just told me a joke that was just an average joke that was long and seemed to never end but at least it had a terrific punch line.
Oh and the never go hungry and speech coming from her was laughable, poor little rich girl.

there you go.


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#19 of 43 Rob_Ray

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Posted November 25 2009 - 04:37 AM


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin9 




With all due respect etc., only the second half is Melodrama with a capital A. The first half plus the beginning of the second half is a really good story, brilliantly told.
 
That's always been the movie's biggest flaw.  The section of the story covering the war and the south's defeat is so compelling that Selznick and his writers spend more screen time covering the first half of the book to the detriment of the second.  The second half of the book's historical background deals with the politics of Reconstruction which Hollywood wisely didn't want to touch.  That left them with just the marital woes of the Butlers and the story's historical sweep with all those Ben Hecht titles are gone with the wind as well.  The basic tone shifts from vast historical epic to interesting historical melodrama.

I've always felt that after the "marital rape" sequence, Selznick and his writers and editors looked at their watches and said "Let's wrap this up."  So that the last 200 pages of the book are covered in a matter of minutes and you have Scarlett's miscarriage, Bonnie's death and Melanie's death coming over a period of what seems like just a couple of days.  The funeral parlor was working overtime.  It's too bad they couldn't have added something in the way of a brief montage to suggest a passage of time between all the tragedies.
 
It's still a great achievement.  Never has Hollywood been so faithful to a novel of such massive length while also  capturing its spirit and flavor.  But inevitably, Selznick and his writers bit off more than they can chew and second half suffers for it.

#20 of 43 Aaron Silverman

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Posted November 25 2009 - 06:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD 

Vivian Leigh was miscast, she wasn't beautiful in the way she needed to be to have all these men fawning all about her the entire movie.
The first line of the novel is very famous:  "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it."

(Can you tell that was written by a woman? /img/vbsmilies/htf/biggrin.gif )

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