A Few Words About A few words about...™ Gone with the Wind -- in Blu-ray

Rob_Ray

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I bought both the new BluRay and latest standard DVD. The BluRay shows more information on both sides. For the first time on video, there's plenty of breathing room on the sides during the opening cast crawl. The DVD is much closer to the earlier versions in framing, but is slightly improved.

On my HD set, the BluRay image is noticeably wider than the standard DVD. The DVD looks like 1.33:1. The BluRay looks like it's well in excess of 1:37.

The top and bottom of the frame look fine. You can't see things you weren't supposed to see at the top of the frame as you could in the 1998 theatrical prints. The old, old laserdisc's opening shot dollying in on Scarlett and the twins has more information at the bottom of the frame, which indicates to me that they haven't found the original opening establishing shot of Tara but are still zooming in through it and the following dissolve shot. Still, it's a magnificent transfer and the dupe shots don't look as nearly drab as they have in the past, although they still aren't as vibrant as the rest of the film.
 

Brandon Conway

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The difference on the sides is almost assuredly due to the fact that the BD is encoded within a 16x9 frame while the DVD is encoded within a 4x3 frame.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Originally Posted by Brandon Conway

The difference on the sides is almost assuredly due to the fact that the BD is encoded within a 16x9 frame while the DVD is encoded within a 4x3 frame.
Hmmm... Perhaps, the TV (or DVD player) is somehow applying overscan to the 4x3 DVD presentation even though the image is being framed (w/ side bars) for a 16x9 display. My previous 16x9 RPTV added some serious overscan (w/ its side bars) to its 4x3 presentation of whatever SD input while my Denon DVD player's 4x3 pillarbox mode yielded neglegible overscan, if any at all.

_Man_
 

Brian W.

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Here's a fascinating vintage news segment about the first home video release of "Gone With the Wind" from 1985. It also confirms my recollection (posted back in 2004!) that the source for that original video release was a previously undiscovered negative that had never been used for printing because the canister had been mislabeled.

How strange to look back and remember, now that every major American classic has been available on home video for years, what big news this was at the time:

www.youtube.com/watch
 

Brian W.

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Originally Posted by Mike Frezon




I haven't had a chance to spin up this disc yet, Brian. But based on what you describe, it sounds like a very good thing.

I checked out Ronald Haver's big picture book, "David O. Selznick's 'Gone With the Wind'," from the library today. There are a few frame stills in the book showing some of the "black bar on the bottom" shots. The ones they show are the first shot of the carriages going into Twelve Oaks (which another poster may have confused with the shot of the Twelve Oaks sign), the pullback with Scarlett and her father on the horizon, and the long overhead shot of the train station with the soldiers that I described above.

One thing I (finally) realized when looking at these stills that I had misundertsood before: for the shots where there is a black bar at the bottom of the screen on the negative, the black bar isn't obcuring any information... the missing information is at the TOP of the screen. The bar represents the bottom edge of the original shot, a result of it being printed "up" one sprocket. It's the upper portion of the shot that's being cut off. And you can tell in these frame blowups, because there is a curve upward at the edges of the black bar... the bottom corners of the original frame.

At any rate, judging from the shot of the train station in the book... No, I don't think it's been restored. We're still missing some information at the edges of the frames. Where I noted above that there are four arches visible in the building on the left in the new disc, there are five visibible in the actual frame blowup, as well as two additional vertical windows in the building on the right.

So, though we're closer than ever to the original with this new disc, it doesn't appear it's quite the full shot. And while they've lost the really obvious pan downwards in the dissolve to the next shot of Prissy coming down the stairs, what they do is VERY SLOWLY pan down AFTER the dissolve has completed. It's less obvious, but there is no pan down at all after the dissolve in previous home video versions.
 

24fpssean

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Brian, I've got a Panasonic Viera Plasma which, oddly, has two image settings - Size 1 is 95% of the picture and Size 2 is 100% of the picture (idiotically, that should be reversed, Size 1 should be 100% because who in their right mind would want 5% of the image cropped??). Anyway, the default is of course Size 1, which for a 1.33:1 image will crop the top and bottom a bit (and I must admit, GWTW is a little more attractive in this false mini widescreen mode), but with Size 2 I see the entire boxy 1.33.

So I don't know if you can adjust your monitor's image like that, but I have mine set to Size 2 so I can see 100% of the intended image. Not sure that's what you're seeing, but it was just a thought!
 

Brian W.

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I can see the whole image, Sean... I'm already viewing it unscaled. I'm talking about information that is missing on the sides of the picture. Since it's a 1.33 picture, there are black bars on the sides anyway... viewing it at "100% picture" wouldn't make a difference.
 

Guest
I wish they could find the original shots in some mismarked canister. They didn't want to use a 1939 print because of the lack of detail and the fact that it would be too dark. I would rather they do what they did here than the zooming on the 2004 edition. On that edition you lost a lot at the top and both sides. On this one you lose the top and very little of the sides.
 

Brian W.

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Originally Posted by Eric Scott Richard

They didn't want to use a 1939 print because of the lack of detail and the fact that it would be too dark.
Do you know that for sure?

Actually, what I wish they would have done is just left the damn black bar at the bottom. But, yes, I'll admit that in this latest incarnation there really is not a huge amount of information lost.

Another thing they could have done is see if they could locate the original matte paintings for some of these shots... they might have been able to recomposit the missing information from them in some cases. (Something I strongly suspect they did years ago with the initial shot of the Emerald City in "Wizard of Oz.)
 

Guest
I can't say 100 percent, but I read on another website (by doing a google search) that someone asked Ned Price and that is what they decided to do. You can also do a google search where the technicians mention how they did reposition some of the shots. This has to go down as one of the stupidest moves in the history of cinema...forever altering a work of art for a brief re-release. (The 1954 decision, not the 2009 decision.)
 

24fpssean

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No, Brian, I meant the top and bottom would be cropped, the sides would obviously not be cropped. The 1954 crop, which resulted in that black bar in certain shots along the bottom of the frame, was an idiotic move but as far as I know the original negative would never have been touched for that. In fact, there would be no way to crop the original (three strip) negatives to create that image, another dupe negative would have to be made. And Warners scanned the original three strips AGAIN for this blu ray release at 8k. The frames that had been cropped in '54 look to be solid again. You're right, most of the image was removed from the top of the frame because there is a lot of headroom in GWTW. Knowing film and negative, I just don't see how the original negs could have been altered; unless dupe negs were created of the altered shots, then cut into the original negs, but then you'd lose two frames, one on each end of the cut, and the sound would be out.

Anyway, I'm pretty certain the film on blu ray, since it came from the original negs, is untouched.
 

Brian Borst

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I finally received the UK 2-disc edition. Looks like a solid package to me, now I just need to find three and a half hours of free time to watch this epic . Add a lot of hours to that for the bonus material.
 

Mark-P

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Originally Posted by 24fpssean

Anyway, I'm pretty certain the film on blu ray, since it came from the original negs, is untouched.
If that were true, then what is all this nonsense about the original unaltered shots being lost forever because they were tossed out?
 

Guest
And the interview with WB where they explain what they did in regards to the shots for this new edition.
 

Brian W.

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Originally Posted by Mark-P




If that were true, then what is all this nonsense about the original unaltered shots being lost forever because they were tossed out?
Eric is correct. I did a Google search and came up with this Ned Price interview from a couple months ago in Motion Picture Editors Guild online.

In it (link below), Mr. Price says:

[COLOR= black]"For the widescreen release [here the article incorrectly inserts in brackets a reference to the 1967 70mm reissue, when Price is referring to the 1954 1.66 version], MGM Laboratories had the optical units and re-made the opticals where there were narrative text sections, such as the sign for Twelve Oaks, and recomposited, repositioned and cut them into the camera negative. [/COLOR][COLOR= black] [/COLOR]So the original optical sections, which were composited and framed for 1:37 or 1:40, are labeled as destroyed and we've never been able to find them. The original optical units were[COLOR= black] destroyed.[/COLOR][COLOR= black] [/COLOR]So what we were able to do was capture some of the original composition in the sense of the flat negative containing some picture information above and below what is normal projection aperture. And we were able to reposition slightly to utilize whatever picture was still there." [COLOR= black] [/COLOR]

[COLOR= black]According to colorist Ray Grabowski, who also worked on the previous 2004 DVD transfer, they had to counteract a linear X-Y movement for the Twelve Oaks sign that was made for the widescreen reissue. [/COLOR]"Because there was a dissolve into the sign, we had to add a movement to capture what additional image we could get and keep the image from looking like it was panned." A newly located original release print was checked on a light table for positioning purposes.


https://www.editorsguild.com/FromTheGuild.cfm?FromTheGuildid=128
 

Stephen_J_H

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Question for RAH:

Any chance of doing another Yellow Layer Failure interview with Ned Price on this, Oz and NxNW?
 

24fpssean

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Oh my god. I didn't realize that they had actually cut those shots into the original negative. That's god awful. The film industry has never been a good parent to its creations. Look at the mess they made of Lawrence of Arabia. Even the Kansas sequences were lost for Oz.
 

Guest
In all fairness to the Kansas sequences, they were lost to a fire. I would like to see the original shots of GWTW from the print in a bonus feature. Probably would be dark, but they would be interesting to see.
 

Brian W.

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I just purchased the original 1985 laserdisc of "Gone With the Wind" on Ebay. I got rid of mine years and years ago, probably when the 50th Annivesary edition came out.

Some observations:

The second "I'll sell you south" line is NOT in the original 1985 video edition. It is apparently exclusive to the 50th Anniversary restoration... which tends to make me believe it wasn't in the original 1939 release.

They definitely used a post-1954 print, as the cropped shots are present. And you can REALLY see the pan-downs on the dissolves to the cropped shots in this edition. The pan down to the Twelve Oaks sign is very obvious. You can see the top of what's missing in the frame as the pan starts. I had no idea there was THAT much tree above the Twelve Oaks sign... it wasn't in the middle of the frame in the original shot, it was slightly towards the bottom.

They did something a bit different with the long train station shot. Instead of centering it horizontally in the middle, they went all the way to the left, almost totally cutting out the building on the right of the frame.
 

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