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Calgary Herald Review

Gone With The Wind looks new again

By Mike Boon, Calgary Herald, June 26, 1998

With the re-release of Gone With the Wind, one of the greatest movies of all time looks new again.

A long-time victim of a worn-down soundtrack and the washed-out colors that can only be expected after six decades of use, Gone With the Wind has not been given justice over the years.

Failed "modernizations" of the film are well-known (nearly half of the image was lost in a 1967 version) and video is a poor medium in which to see such an extraordinary film.

This new release, however, is a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Gone With the Wind is being screened according to producer David O. Selznick's precise instructions for the original, all the way down to the music which is played as the audience enters the theatre, and the digital soundtrack brings the exceptional score by Max Steiner bursting to life.

The original Technicolor effects, which have not been used in copy prints of the film since 1961, are simply gorgeous. The vivid color on the actresses' lips and dresses is truly a wonder to behold.

Watching Gone With the Wind again one can't help but be struck by the film's grand and meticulous sense of storytelling.

The screenplay by Sidney Howard remains as magnificent as ever and the direction by Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood and William Cameron Menzies (though only Fleming received directorial credit) is magical.

Gone With the Wind runs 222 minutes, plus intermission, and yet one's attention never wanders from Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning story about Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), a Southern belle whose life takes her through Civil War, poverty, reconstruction and the arms of the dashing Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).

Yes, cynical viewers may complain that the film reduces the American Civil War to an epic soap opera and yes, the film's romanticism of slavery is all out of whack (though Hattie McDaniel's Mammy always makes it clear who the real authority is in the household).

Not even Gone With the Wind's biggest detractors, however, can complain about Leigh's unforgettable work as Scarlett. Selznick searched for 2 1/2 years to find the perfect Scarlett and there is no way he could have made a better choice.

Leigh's exquisite, Oscar-winning performance is as multi-layered as any ever captured on film. Scarlett's flaws constantly undermine her heroics, whether it be her stubbornness triumphing over common sense or her ego-flattening candidness, and the effect is fascinating.

Gone With the Wind's personal drama has aged remarkably well over the years and the film will no doubt be just as riveting for today's audiences as it was for moviegoers in 1939.

In fact, the film should appeal especially to anyone who has visited Titanic again and again. After all, Titanic owes more than a little debt to Gone With the Wind and some of the earlier film's visuals are just as stunning as any found in James Cameron's disaster epic.

Even six decades after its original release, Gone With the Wind remains a transfixing, one-of-a-kind experience.

Not for nothing did the film take home eight Academy Awards and recently rank fourth in the American Film Institute's Top 100 U.S. movies of the last 100 years. Adjusting for inflation, it is also the most successful movie of all time.

There is no denying that Gone With the Wind deserves to be seen again in all of its crisp, Technicolor brilliance.

Even though the film has never lacked for beauty, style or substance, it is breathtaking what a new coat of paint can do to bring out the glories of yesteryear.

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