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Gone With The Wind: Special Edition 4-Disc Box Set



Review: Lizzie Guilfoyle

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Discs One and Two: Commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer.
Disc Three: 'The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind' 1989 documentary. 'Restoring a Legend' documentary. Footage from 1939 Atlanta and 1961 Civil War Centennial Atlanta premieres. 'The Old South' 1940 theatrical short directed by Fred Zinnemann. International prologue. Foreign-language version sample scenes. Trailer gallery.
Disc Four: 'Melanie Remembers: Olivia de Havilland Recalls Gone with the Wind' documentary. 'Clark Gable: A King Remembered' documentary. 'Vivien Leigh: Scarlet and Beyond' documentary. Mini documentaries covering lives and careers of most prominent cast members.

SO MUCH has already been written about Gone With The Wind, I doubt there's anything more I can add. However, its release on DVD will, no doubt, introduce it to a whole new generation - a generation accustomed to the technological wizardry of modern cinema and films such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Titanic and Gladiator.

Yet so good is Gone With The Wind, that it may come as something of a surprise to learn that it was first released a little over 66 years ago, on January 1, 1939.

But it's been digitally remastered, you might argue. So what? The film's fundamental format remains unchanged.

Adapted from the novel by Margaret Mitchell - her only novel, incidentally - Gone With The Wind is a tale of truly epic proportions. Set in America's deep south, it opens in 1861, with the country on the verge of civil war.

Into this climate of imminent change, comes Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), a young, spoilt and spirited southern belle, whose love for the debonair but upright Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) is thwarted by the announcement of his impending marriage to his gentle and selfless cousin, Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland).

Lastly, and inadvertently party to Scarlett's declaration of love, is the dashing profiteer, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). The lives of these four become inextricably entwined as the winds of war sweep aside their old and privileged way of life, leaving Scarlett struggling to keep Tara, the O'Hara's ancestral home, while suffering the pangs of unrequited love.

All four are superb. In fact, for her portrayal of Scarlett, Leigh won an Academy Award for Best Actress - just one of the productions then, record-breaking total of ten.

Others included Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming) and Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the wonderful Mammy, who actually triumphed over fellow nominee, Olivia de Havilland. As a matter of interest, McDaniel was the first African American to win an Oscar.

For me, their names will always be synonymous with their characters; all exactly as I'd imagined them from reading the book. Nevertheless, it set me thinking. Who, of today's stars, could play these key roles as convincingly?

Certainly not Timothy Dalton and Joanne Whalley-Kilmer who starred as Rhett and Scarlett in the 1994 TV mini series sequel, entitled simply, and somewhat lamely I feel, Scarlett.

How about George Clooney and Jude Law? Could they step into Gable and Howard's shoes? For the women however, I admit to being stumped.

That aside, for it's purely hypothetical nonsense, Gone With The Wind has it all - romance, drama, suspense, even a touch of comedy. And while the set pieces, the burning of Atlanta for instance, are not as lavish as we've come to expect, they do nonetheless, work very well.

On the negative side, however, with a running time of 224 minutes, it is long and exponents of the book might bemoan a number of, what can only be described as, insignificant changes. Ultimately, they detract nothing from the story's overall impact.

In a nutshell then, Gone With The Wind is entertainment exactly as it should be.

 

 

 

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