And the HD Oscar Goes to: Gone With the Wind

Cast: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel.
Director: Victor Fleming.
Screenplay: Sidney Howard.
Score: Max Steiner.
Cinematography: Ernest Haller

Fifty years after it won 10 Academy Awards, including best picture, Gone With the Wind’s Blu-ray release will blow you away. The single-disc 70th Anniversary Edition retains only one of the extras on the 2004, four-disc collector’s DVD set. But its vivid restoration in HD will have even Tara diehards exclaiming, “Great balls of fire!” Gone With the Wind was the first colour movie to win an Oscar — indeed, one of the 10 was an honorary award for production designer William Cameron Menzies’ outstanding use of colour – and Warner Bros has done its legacy proud with a spectacular 1080p transfer. The Digital Bits scored the video 20 out of 20 and the Dolby TrueHD audio a 17 while Hi-Def Digest rated the video 5/5 and the audio, 4.5. In a fascinating interview with Hi-Def Digest, Warner Home Video’s George Feltenstein says Gone with the Wind’s 2K Ultras Resolution 65th anniversary remastering had to be completely overhauled, and another $US200,000 spent on dirt-cleaning, for it to meet the standards of Blu-ray. “What was perfection two to three years ago is not now.” Given how scrupulous Warner Home Video was with the transfer, it’s a pity the same dedication didn’t extend to Blu-ray extras. Only historian Rudy Behlmer’s scholarly but unpretentious commentary, which will surprise even the most knowledgeable fans, has been ported over from the DVD. To see any of the other 65th anniversary extras, including a 40-minute interview with Olivia de Havilland and documentaries about Clark Gable (1975), Vivien Leigh (1990) and the movie’s production (the two-hour Making of a Legend commemorated its 50th anniversary), you have to buy the Ultimate Collector’s Edition, which, at $79.95, costs $50 more. But as well as extras exclusive to Blu-ray, such as the documentary, 1939: Hollywood’s Greatest Year, it includes a copies of the original theatrical poster and souvenir programme, a 40-page history with photos and production notes, eight art prints and a CD sampler of the soundtrack.

Movie: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Image: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀
Extras: 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

This is the first in a series of Blu-ray reviews counting down to the the Academy Awards, which will screen live in HD, for the first time in NZ, on Sky Movies (March 8, 2.30pm).

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