Gone With the Wind is a film that everyone knows. Even if they’ve never seen it in its entirety, they know all of the famous quotes, characters, settings, and the drama that the film itself contains. It’s a sweeping epic, clocking in at nearly four hours long, and winner of eight Oscars. The performances are legendary and there are few who even exist who don’t recognize the groundbreaking standard it set for similar “epic” films that would come into theaters for decades to come. Few films can include an intermission and still keep you eager enough to come back to the second part as excited as you were while watching the first.
Period romance. War epic. Family saga. Popular fiction adapted with crowd-pleasing brilliance. Star acting aglow with charisma and passion. Moviemaking craft at its height. These are sublimely joined in the words Gone with the Wind. This dynamic and durable screen entertainment of the Civil War-era South comes home with the renewed splendor of a New 70th-Anniversary Digital Transfer capturing a higher-resolution image from Restored Picture Elements than ever before possible. David O. Selznick’s monumental production of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book can now enthrall new generations of home viewers with a majestic vibrance that befits one of Hollywood’s greatest achievements.
Gone With the Wind was always that film that I wanted to watch but it seemed unattainable. Not that it wasn’t either on TV or readily available to me on DVD in some form or another throughout the years, but it…it was just kind of like the Bible. I’ve read/seen parts of it at so many different times, it seems that I’ve probably already read/seen 80-90% of it anyway, so why bother sitting down to read/watch all of it? Well in the case of the Bible I’m incredibly lazy reader and I’ve probably gone through it through various methods of Sunday school or church attendance already anyway, so my motivation there is about at zilcho.
But for this film? I’m of the “old movies are for old people” mindset as I’ve rarely truly enjoyed one that is pre-70s. That’s just the way I am and even though that mindset has walled me off from a myriad of old classics, it’s more the directing and method of storytelling (and the very sudden and abrupt endings that always seem to occur…they just irk me). But when finally settling down for Gone With the Wind I realized that I’d best just shut up and enjoy the ride rather than object to any old-style methods of storytelling.
And quite honestly there wasn’t a single frame of this film that irked me. It’s hard to be annoyed by something that’s such an absolute perfect work of art. It’s not that I could possibly say anything about this film that nearly everyone on Earth hasn’t already heard, but I was truly impressed by this whole production. It’s not I was just impressed I enjoyed an old film, it was more that I was just impressed by the audacity of it. It’s not the typical type of plot you expect from a film that’s 70 years old and even by today’s standards it’s rather dramatic and incredible. I doubt this would receive a G rating in today’s theaters, as the tale of lust, loveless marriages, copious pregnancies (and a miscarriage that weighs heavy on the film) just seems to be something that would have a hard time skating by with a PG rating, let alone a G. Then again if it were to be made today I’m sure there’d be explicit nudity and vulgar language in it as well.
Overall the timeless and pretty much flawless story of Gone With the Wind holds up to a (in one sitting) first time viewing even seventy years after it was originally on the silver screen. Not that there should ever be any doubt in your mind but this is a Must See film, not only for its historical and filmmaking impact, but also just because it’s just a fantastic film from start to finish. It spans nearly the entire adult lifetime of the cast and whether it’s depicting war, destitution, death, or romance in some form or another, the film will forever stand as a shining example of what the film medium can accomplish.
Although there’s been several editions of this film over the years, this new two-disc edition on DVD boasts a brand new transfer for the film. The big reason for this DVD release was because they discontinued the four-disc release from years past and the film was celebrating its 70th Anniversary. Of course there’s also the deluxe Blu-ray release, which you’ll want to go for over this DVD release simply because it has a scad more bonus features. But in any case this set arrives in a standard Amaray two-disc case with a cardboard slipcover over the front. Nothing special on the interior, just the two discs (which the film is split between), although there is an offer for a mail-in poster (27×40) so that should be worthwhile for those in the market for a DVD edition only.
Video, as previously mentioned, is an all new restored 4×3 transfer and it looks about as clean and clear as one could possibly imagine a print from 1939 to be. There’s a nice film-like haze to it all, but it’s really quite fantastic looking, even on a DVD upscaled and blown up on a 52” TV. Audio does sound dated even in this DD5.1 mix (not that I expected it to sound like a modern film by any means), but it’s crystal clean and clear from start to finish.
Extras on this two-disc edition are limited to a lone Commentary by Historian Rudy Behlmer, which his carried over from the 2004 four-disc edition. Sadly this track is really quite scripted in nature, sounding like Behlmer is reading off a fact sheet and rarely ever remarking candidly about the happenings on screen. Behlmer still manages to be entertaining, as one would have to be when chatting over a four hour film, and he does a solid job with the dubious task of commenting over such a film…but while the track has a few issues with it, it’s still a very worthwhile listen.
Overall you’d be better off picking up the Blu-ray edition of this title if you’re in the market. You get better video and a whole slew of extras wrapped up in a beautiful gift set (and as of this writing the Blu-ray edition of the 70th Anniversary Gift Set is around $20 cheaper on Amazon compared to the DVD gift set), so this plain two-disc DVD edition is passable. Skip It and head for one of the fancier sets—with over twenty hours worth of extras on it, it’s a much more sensible decision for anyone in the market for this classic.
Gone With the Wind – 70th Anniversary is now available on two and four-disc DVD and four-disc Blu-ray.