Gone With The Wind

I was way too young to appreciate “Gone with the Wind” the first time I saw it in a theater. All I knew was that it was long, and someone got mad and burned down a town. Ah, sweet, innocent memories of my youth. That was then, this is now, and after having watched “Gone with the Wind” for the first time in years, I have fallen in love with the film all over again.

The last time I watched “Gone with the Wind” was on video, and the print wasn’t very vibrant. That took away part of the joy of watching such a colorful movie. The new MGM Home Entertainment DVD solves that problem. The transfer is from the newly restored negative, and the results are simply stunning. “Gone with the Wind” looks new, so new you couldn’t tell it was made sixth years ago. The colors are exciting and alive, and a new Dolby Digital surround track opens up the film from the constraints of the original mono soundtrack.

Gone With The Wind MGM Home Entertainment brings “Gone with the Wind” to DVD in it’s original theatrical presentation. That includes an Overture, an intermission with music, an Entr’ Acte on side two, and exit music, just like audiences of 1939 experienced. How charming. I must say that “Gone with the Wind” is a film that deserves such treatment. Number Four on the American Film Institute’s 100 Top Film list, “Gone with the Wind” is also the highest grossing motion picture of all time (factoring in ticket prices from the era). It has been seen by more paying patrons than any other film, not to mention it’s numerous television airings and videocassette viewings. One only has to watch ten minutes of “Gone with the Wind” to become enthralled with the big screen version of Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel about the Old South. The characters in Sidney Howard’s screenplay are instantly memorable, from the flirtatious Scarlett O’Hara, played by radiant newcomer Vivien Leigh, to the long-suffering love of her life, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard).

Told with broad, majestic strokes, “Gone with the Wind” transported us back to another time and place, and did so with such conviction that it was easy to slide into this world. A noble South just before the Civil War, where sprawling plantations like Tara and Twelve Oaks stood tall and proud, and plantation owners like the Wilkes and O’Hara’s enjoyed a lifestyle of comfort and luxury. Oh yeah, and they had slaves. When Ashley Wilkes announces that he’s going to marry his cousin Melanie Hamilton (Olivia De Havilland), the news sends Scarlett, who has been pining over Ashley for years, into a jealous rage. To get even, Scarlett agrees to marry Ashley’s brother John (Howard Hickman) as he and the other men head off to fight the Yankees. The only man who sees through Scarlett’s ploy is Rhett Butler (Clark gable), a handsome and debonair visitor from Charleston. Scarlett is too selfish to see that Butler is a perfect fit, and instead keeps going for the gold ring instead of love. The war takes it’s toll on everyone, especially Scarlett, who returns to Tara after an extended stay in Atlanta, only to find her mother dead and the plantation in ruins. Determined to return Tara back to its former glory, Scarlett marries a family friend for his money and lumber, once again turning her back on Butler. Will Scarlett and Butler ever get a room? Director Victor Fleming, who also delivered “The Wizard of Oz” the same year, does a splendid job of turning an epic book into a film epic. Every shot has that unique, cinematic feel that just makes me warm inside. I love movies that look like movies. I get enough reality from modern films. It’s such a pleasure to sit back and return to a period in Hollywood where close-ups are perfect, and the landscapes and horizons are as colorful as the costumes and sets.

The cast is superb, and have survived the test of time. There’s not one performance that seems dated or rings false by today’s standards. The winner of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, “Gone with the Wind” is as exciting and enjoyable today as it was sixty years ago. How can one not be impressed with the grandeur of the production values, the sweeping romance and the superior storytelling? “Gone with the Wind” is and will remain a true classic in every sense of the word.


A gorgeous full-frame digital transfer that almost makes the film look new. There are minimal compression problems on the DVD, but I’m not going to go ballistic because the overall quality is tremendous. Excellent color saturation, beautiful flesh tones and bold blacks hold up under the closet of scrutiny. The original Technicolor negative, which was recently restored for a theatrical release, is in excellent shape. Some of the film’s trickier moments (matte shots that look antiquated by today’s standards) really stand out, but that’s a testament to the fine-tuned transfer. The DVD, like a certain 1960’s television show, is a “Flipper,” with the film’s theatrical intermission serving as the break. “Gone with the Wind” has never looked better.

The “Gone with the Wind” DVD features two soundtracks: One in the film’s original monophonic soundtrack, and a newly re-mastered Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. I watched the film in the new 5.1 surround track, and it’s okay for such an old film. The stereo separation is adequate but not definitive, while the front-to-rear split is subtle. The rear speakers are utilized for Max Steiner’s symphonic score, the occasional ambient noise and explosions during the war sequences. It’s not going to give your sound system a workout, but it does lend a depth to the film not found on the original mono track. The sound mix is above par for a sixty-year-old film.

Subtitles in English and French.

The DVD comes with the original theatrical trailer, some film trivia, and an eight- page booklet with interesting information about the film. The booklet also shows a screen shot of the special features menu, which displays extras not featured on the DVD. I guess the screen shot came from the Laser Disc, because the DVD doesn’t have the original and re-release premiere footage, or the screen tests. Too bad. I guess the film filled up the available space on the DVD, leaving no room for these extras. So my big question is, why did they include this screen shot instead of the special features menu on the DVD?

I don’t know nuthin’ about birthin’ no babies, but I do know a DVD collection without “Gone with the Wind” is incomplete.


HMO: MGM Home Entertainment

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