DVD review of the Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh classic, Gone with the Wind
Editorial review of Gone with the Wind, courtesy of Amazon.com
David O. Selznick wanted Gone with the Wind to be somehow more than a movie, a film that would broaden the very idea of what a film could be and do and look like. In many respects he got what he worked so hard to achieve in this 1939 epic (and all-time box-office champ in terms of tickets sold), and in some respects he fell far short of the goal. While the first half of this Civil War drama is taut and suspenseful and nostalgic, the second is ramshackle and arbitrary. But there’s no question that the film is an enormous achievement in terms of its every resource — art direction, color, sound, cinematography — being pushed to new limits for the greater glory of telling an American story as fully as possible. Vivien Leigh is still magnificently narcissistic, Olivia de Havilland angelic and lovely, Leslie Howard reckless and aristocratic. As for Clark Gable: we’re talking one of the most vital, masculine performances ever committed to film. — Tom Keogh
On the DVD
Gone with the Wind’s restoration under Warner’s brilliant Ultra-Resolution process is the major contribution to this two-disc edition. However, the bare-bones version released years ago isn’t bad and the film still doesn’t pop off the screen as do films from the headier days of Technicolor (like the earlier Ultra-Resolution DVD release of Meet Me in St. Louis). Rudy Behlmer’s feature-length commentary is dry but an exhaustive reference guide to the entire history of the film. Of course, if you’re a GWTW fanatic, you must buy the kitchen-sink four-disc set, which adds two full discs of extras. — Doug Thomas
Plot Synopsis: Scarlett is a woman who can deal with a nation at war, Atlanta burning, the Union Army carrying off everything from her beloved Tara, the carpetbaggers who arrive after the war. Scarlett is beautiful. She has vitality. But Ashley, the man she has wanted for so long, is going to marry his placid cousin, Melanie. Mammy warns Scarlett to behave herself at the party at Twelve Oaks. There is a new man there that day, the day the Civil War begins. Rhett Butler. Scarlett does not know he is in the room when she pleads with Ashley to choose her instead of Melanie.