Gone with the Wind - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray) Gone with the Wind - 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition
Set in the South against the backdrop of the Civil War, this is the story of headstrong and manipulative Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), who lusts after a married man while neglecting her true love and third husband Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).
Garnering an impressive eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, David O. Selznick's production of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning book is the box-office champion of all time in terms of tickets sold due to its multiple releases. In one of the bonus features, a former executive at MGM joked that whenever there was a cash shortage, the film would get another "limited engagement" in order to fill the studio's bank account with some much needed revenue.
It's the lavish sets, costumes, and characters that make this such an epic film. The burning of Atlanta is spectacular, especially given the time period. And who wouldn't be impressed by the amazing architecture of the Tara mansion? But the characters are what I like best. Not to mince words, but Scarlett is a first-class spoiled brat, even though her beautiful eyes and soft complexion make most men weak-kneed in her presenceand I don't blame them one bit. Rhett does the same for the ladies with his great looks and Han Solo-like attitudehe's not in it for the war effort, he just wants the profit. Best of all is Mammy (Hattie McDaniel), the only one who truly understands Scarlett. She steals every scene with her down-to-earth sensibilities.
Warner is has proven to be masterful at restoring classics with fantastic results, and the trend continues here. The color-aligned Technicolor separations (red, green, and blue) were scanned at 8K, just like the fabulous Wizard of Oz, and the outcome is just as spectacular. The VC-1/1080p encode reveals natural colors, inky blacks, and sharp detail. There's an occasional soft scene or two, but at nearly four hours long, one can't expect perfection in every scene, especially when you take into account the film's age.
Unfortunately, the audio isn't as mesmerizing as the video, but it's not too shabby. Purists will relish the original mono track, but I did most of my viewing with the remastered Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack. The biggest improvement between the two is with Max Steiner's score, which plays nonstop throughout the film. Dynamics are strained on occasion, but the stereo spread across the front speakers adds some realism to the action on the screen. The surround speakers convey minor ambience, and the dialog is mostly intelligible, although the score overpowers the vocals on a couple of occasions.
As with Wizard of Oz, the 70th Anniversary Limited Edition of Gone With the Wind comes in a numbered collector's box (covered in red velvet) with a bunch of swag, plus three discs (two Blu-rays and one DVD). Disc one includes the movie along with a full-length audio commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer. The second Blu-ray disc houses a plethora of supplements that include the 1988 two-hour documentary "The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind," a must-watch for anyone interested in the history of the epic production.
Next up is "Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Presents 1939: Hollywood's Greatest year," a 2009 documentary that talks about one of the most celebrated years in cinema. Additional featurettes include a shorter documentary on the film, "Gone with the Wind: The Legend Lives On," featurettes on Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, and a retrospective piece from Olivia de Havilland. Other supplements include a look at the restoration, newsreel footage, the 1980 TV film "The Scarlett O'Hara War," some foreign-language scenes, and footage from the 1961 Civil War Centennial.
Disc three is a dual-sided DVD that has "MGM: When the Lion Roars" documentary that was also included in the Oz box set.
It's a great testament for a film to hold up so well 70 years after its release, but Gone with the Wind truly is a timeless classic. Even with its extended runtime, it never really drags, but I did take two nights to watch it. Regardless, Warner has done another stupendous job at restoring one of the best films of all time. Highly recommended.
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics