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590 of 628 found the following review helpful:
Near-Perfect Edition of Hollywood Classic...Dec 22, 2004
By Benjamin J Burgraff
It seems like a 'new, improved' edition of "Gone With the Wind" has appeared every couple of years, offering the 'ultimate' in picture and sound reproduction, and extras. It can become expensive keeping up, and frustrating (much like buying a classic Disney DVD, when you know a more complete "Special Edition" will soon render your "First Time on Video" copy obsolete), but the new GWTW Four-Disc Collector's Edition most assuredly deserves a place in your collection.
First off, the picture and sound quality is astonishing. Warner's Ultra-Resolution process, which 'locks' the three Technicolor strips into exact alignment, provides a clarity and 'crispness' to the images that even the 1939 original print couldn't achieve. You'll honestly believe your TV is picking up HD, whether you're HD-ready, or not! This carries over to the Dolby Digital-remastered sound, as well. All of the tell-tale hiss and scratchiness of the opening credit title music, still discernable in the last upgrade, is gone, replaced by a richness of tone that will give your home theater a good workout. (Listen to the brass in this sequence, and you'll notice what I'm talking about...)
The biggest selling point of this edition is, of course, the two discs of additional features offered, and these are, in general, superb. Beginning with the excellent "Making of a Legend" (narrated by Christopher Plummer), Disc Three offers fascinating overviews about the film, the amazing restoration, footage from the 1939 Premiere (and the bittersweet 1961 Civil War Centennial reunion of Selznick, Leigh, and de Havilland), glimpses of Gable and Leigh with dubbed voices for the foreign-language versions, the international Prologue (tacked on to explain the Civil War to foreign audiences), and a 1940 MGM documentary on the "Old South" (directed by Fred Zinneman) memorable today for it's simplistic view of the time, and stereotypical portrayal of blacks.
Disc Four is a mixed bag; the long-awaited reminiscences of Olivia de Havilland are more chatty than informative (with the 90-year-old actress more interested in discussing her wardrobe than on-set tension...although a prank she pulled on Gable is amusing), and the Clark Gable Profile is superficial (A&E's biography of 'The King' is far superior). Things improve, however, with the insightful, sympathetic TCM biography of Vivien Leigh (hosted by Jessica Lange), and a WONDERFUL section devoted to brief bios of many of the GWTW supporting cast, narrated, again, by Christopher Plummer (although I wish the filmmakers would have included bios for Ward Bond, Victor Jory, Fred Crane, and George 'Superman' Reeves).
All in all, the GWTW Four-Disc Collector's Edition isn't perfect, but offers so much terrific material that it is CERTAINLY the one to own!
273 of 290 found the following review helpful:
"And you, miss, are no lady!"Nov 18, 2009
By William Sommerwerck
As with the "Wizard of OZ" BD set, the GWTW set is elaborated -- and made "spendier" -- with the addition of material that might not be absolutely necessary for one's enjoyment. The box is covered in red velvet flocking (green would have been more appropriate and amusing -- qv, Carol Burnett). There's a CD "sampler" of Max Steiner's score, running a measly 45 minutes. Given that Max took excessive scoring to the max (Bette Davis had some pointedly unkind things to say about it), a "sampler" could have filled two CDs, and still not have exhausted the music (though the music might exhaust you). *
As with "OZ", there's a 52-page hard-backed book that's largely content-free, plus reproductions of some of the watercolor set-design paintings (in their own little envelope), and various memoranda sent to and from David O. Selznick. I was expecting a reproduction of Gerald O'Hara's pocket watch, but it likely would have been of even poorer quality than the kiddie watch in the "OZ" box.
The best bonus is a reproduction of the 25-cent (expensive in 1939) souvenir booklet. It includes pieces by the principals, notably one from Clark Gable telling how badly he wanted to play Rhett Butler and much he enjoyed every minute of making the film. (He didn't want to appear in "costume" films (having had bad luck in a film about Irish revolutionaries), was afraid to take on a role the public had such definite ideas about, and got along poorly with the first director, George Cukor.)
As I write this, I haven't viewed all the supplemental material on the second disk. (There's a lot.) The third disk duplicates the "When the Lion Roars" feature included in the "OZ" box -- though the package labeling suggests it's unique to GWTW.
GWTW was always unsharp and muddy-looking -- until the Ultra Resolution transfer of the original three-strip negatives a few years ago. It was a major improvement, and the DVDs showed the film as it had never been seen.
This edition apparently uses a new Ultra Resolution transfer, at twice the resolution (8k versus 4k) of the previous. Some scenes -- such as Ashley escorting Melanie to the balcony of Twin Oaks -- are breathtaking, far superior to what the DVD offered (and /that/ wasn't exactly chopped liver). The best Technicolor films, properly transferred, push HD to its limit.
What most surprised me, though, was the awareness of how the film's color balance is adjusted to produce specific effects. Many scenes have an appropriately warm, "burnished" coloration that /does not/ carry over to the scene's subtle colors. For example, at the fund-raising bazaar, there's a bottle of pastel-colored candies (which you'll probably never notice in the SD edition) that retain their correct colors, "unromantized" by the rest of the image's warmth. Similarly, in the scene outside the hospital where Belle Watling makes a donation, her costume is vividly colored (there's no question about her profession!), even though everything else is drab.
Several sequences are outstanding, particularly the one where Scarlett returns to Aunt Pittypat's home to tend to Melanie. It's a model of Technicolor photography, one that any cinematographer would be proud of -- as good as anything being done today. In earlier transfers of poorer prints, this sequence is flat and two-dimensional. You can't see how magnificently lit and photographed it is.
At its best, the Technicolor resembles large-format, ultra-sharp Polacolor. That's a compliment! If you're fortunate enough to have a large display, you'll gasp at some of the images.
One of the most-startling moments occurs when Scarlett goes to the train station to look for Dr Meade, one of the most-famous scenes in movie history. Hundreds, if not thousands of injured men lie on the ground, waiting for medical attention that will likely never come. There weren't enough extras, so dummies were used. And for the first time, you can actually /see/ which of the "extras" are dummies! You can probably tell better than the camera operator!
In short... The BD edition is a major improvement over the excellent DVD edition. It gives the impression that the movie makers were able to manipulate Technicolor to get specific aesthetic effects. ** And it shows just how /beautifully photographed/ this film is, something even the original Technicolor prints never fully revealed. The DVD probably captured most of this (I no longer have it for comparison), but you'll never see it in standard definition on a "small" screen. Looking at excerpts in the supplmentary material /not/ taken from the Ultra Resolution transfer is a reminder of just how "messy"-looking the original GWTW was. It no longer is. I've never enjoyed watching it so much.
It's becoming apparent that an HD transfer, shown on a big display, is not the best way to watch a movie at home, but the best way to watch a movie, period.
The sound is so-so, of limited range and not particularly clean. (Disney does a much better job cleaning up the audio of its classic films.) The reviewer who said it filled the room as well as any modern soundtrack most own Bose 901s. It would sound better in a theater, with big horn speakers that started rolling off above 5kHz. If GWTW was recorded in RCA multi-track, the stems don't appear to have survived. (Those for "OZ" exist and have been used, though not, apparently in the Blu-ray.) Music and dialog are mono throughout, but individual sound effects (particulary explosions) are panned to the side or rear when appropriate. The music sometimes seems too loud for the dialog, and the overall level is by far the lowest of any Blu-ray I've yet auditioned. I had to really crank up the volume, far, far beyond 11.
This is an expensive set, but it represents such a significant improvement over the last DVD edition (as good as it was) that it's worth seriously considering. Even if your BD player has a good scaler, the DVD won't look anywhere nearly this good on your HD monitor. Highly recommended.
PS: Just because a film is a classic doesn't mean it's suitable for everyone in your family. The G rating is ridiculous. GWTW is at least PG, containing, as it does, women of questionable virtue, a fair amount of violence (including a scene in which Scarlett is attacked, and another in which she shoots a Yankee, practically blowing off his face), and Rhett dragging Scarlett up the stairs to "molest" her. The MPAA ratings board is nothing if not inconsistent.
PPS: Though Vivian Leigh and Hattie McDaniel received Oscars, I consider Butterfly McQueen's performance as Prissy the best in the film. Though she hated the role (it's too easy to interpret Prissy as representing slaves in general, rather than one in particular), she showed great courage in taking it, and delivers a finely nuanced performance.
* Max Steiner wrote the first great film score for a talky - "King Kong". It epitomizes his style -- "Mickey-Mousing" almost every screen action, and the heavy use of Leitmotivs for characters and events. (Note how Melanie's motive appears every time she does, and how Rhett's is played -- breaking the scene's mood -- when he leaves Scarlett for the last time.) He was also the first sound-film composer to underscore almost the entire length of a film -- this is not a recent development. It's worth noting that GWTW, despite some memorable music, did not win "Best Score" for 1939 -- Herbert Stothart's for "Wizard of OZ" did. I find it considerably more imaginative and appealing.
** The Technicolor print uses dye transfer, in which each color is layed down separately from its own gelatin matrix. This allows a great deal of flexibility in controlling the contrast and color balance -- if you're willing to put out the time and money. According to the supplementary material, the color balance /was/ adjusted on scene-by-scene basis for GWTW, just as it is for modern films - that's what the "color timer" person does. A high-quality print from 1939 was found, and guided the restorers in adjusting color balance.
200 of 225 found the following review helpful:
Technical Consideration for "Bewildered in Iowa"Nov 30, 2004
By D. Paul Dalton
I do hope you'll return and revise your rating to a '5' once you digest this information:
Gone With the Wind was never released in a Widescreen version on DVD because it was never released in a Widescreen version on film. In fact, when it was released (1939), there were NO "Widescreen" movies at all -- becaues no one had yet thought about formatting movies in that way.
Through the 1940s and into the 1950s, essentially ALL movies were in the 3:4 format that we now consider to be "regular". My understanding is that those proportions originally were adopted by the film industry to roughly correspond with the proportions of viewable area for the "live" theaters extant when the film industry started. Similarly, when television arrived in the late 40s/early 50s, its screen format was determined by copying the 3:4 screen proportions of films made up to that time. By the mid-1950s, the film industry became concerned about losing its audience to TV, so various WIDESCREEN formats (CinemaScope was one; I think there was another called VistaVision; I can't remember the others offhand) were conceived by the film industry in the 1950s as a way in which the film industry could distinguish its film products from what could efficiently be shown on television screens. This was the film industry's attempt to keep audiences coming to theaters to see their movies, rather than just waiting to see movie productions on home televisions; by coming to the theater, the audience could experience something different that what television could offer.
Other "ideas" in this effort against TV included attempts to interest audiences in 3D films, as well as enhancing film audio, both by greatly improving sound range and fidelity and later by adding stereo, at a time when TVs had only a single, inexpensive speaker that didn't sound all that "hot." In fact, the creation/addition of 5.1 audio (Surround Sound) was yet another film industry effort to distinguish itself from what then was available for use in homes.
Anyway, if someone now wants to issue a "Widescreen" version of GWTW, the only way to do it (without distorting the content) would be to cut off the top and/or bottom of every frame all the way through -- just think about how THAT would look . . .
123 of 139 found the following review helpful:
A disappointing box setFeb 17, 2004
"book and classic movie fiend"
Please note that my disappointment was in no way with "Gone With the Wind" itself, which is, as we all know, is one of the greatest movies of all time. I couldn't say anything about this wonderful film that hasn't been said already. This big, lush, box set, however, left a lot to be desired.
Let's start with the 8 original limited edition lobby card prints. They're obviously colorized, and hideously so. Mammy in a neon pink headdress? The same neon pink as the stripes on the soldier's pants at the charity bazaar? I don't think so. And excuse me, the dress Scarlett wore when she fled from Atlanta and for some time after that was lavendar, not French's mustard yellow. Nor is anyone's skin that "flesh" color, ever.
Moving on to the 6 original black and white photograph cards (and why would you print black and white photos of a beautiful color movie like this, anyway?)...I could have done a better job on my home computer, with screen captures. The pictures, which include Rhett at the bottom of the stairs seeing Scarlett for the first time, are very blurry. Even the close up of Rhett and Scarlett about to kiss (after Frank Kennedy's funeral) isn't clear.
The 35 mm film frame I received was of Rhett bidding Scarlett farewell on the road to Tara; the accompanying art graphic is very dark and muddy. I have to hold the film cell up to bright light to even see it, so forget about framing it.
The 27x40 movie poster was very nice, and I'll end up getting a frame to display it.
The DVD lists its "special features" as interactive menus and scene access; isn't that pretty much standard by now? The extras consist of a trivia game (you don't guess the answers, they'll give them to you on the next screen) and the movie trailer. That's it. One of the greatest films of all time, and that's the best you can do? What about the excellent documentary "The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind"? I have that on VHS and it's wonderful. That could have been added to make a two disc set.
I'd wanted "GWTW" on DVD for a long time, and instead of buying the much less expensive DVD (where I could have had a choice of standard or widescreen versions), I had to hold out for the big box set. I wonder now why I bothered.
35 of 37 found the following review helpful:
HOW TO LIMIT YOUR PRODUCT SEARCH ON AMAZON - FOR SPECIFIC DVD RELEASES / EDITIONSJan 28, 2011
By D. Walker
There are almost 1,000 reviews for "GONE WITH THE WIND" VHS Tapes, DVDs & Blu-rays.
TO LIMIT YOUR PRODUCT SEARCH ON AMAZON - FOR SPECIFIC DVD/BLU-RAY RELEASES / EDITIONS :
1. Click on the "CUSTOMER REVIEWS" button near the DVD title.
2. You will be directed to the "CUSTOMER REVIEWS" PAGE for the DVD.
3. In the box labeled: "SEARCH CUSTOMER REVIEWS" you can type in many limitations for your search.
For example, type in "Four-Disc Collector's Edition" or "70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition" or just the words "Blu-Ray".
4. You can also type in the PRODUCT DETAILS "ASIN" for any DVD.
Following these instructions, you should be able to limit the reviews to your specific DVD edition.
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