Anyone who knows me knows that I love love LOVE Gone With the Wind. The book, the movie, the Classic Hollywood glamour, and yes, Scarlett O’Hara herself, one of the great film characters of all time, a woman you both love and love to hate. I recently got to see the restored film on a big BIG screen recently, and it took my breath away on a new level. I even planned a vacation to the South this year, that by no accident had several Gone With the Wind stops on the agenda. Yes, it is safe to say I am a “Windie”.
Gone With the Wind, the massively successful film that swooped up 10 Academy Awards (in perhaps the best year for Hollywood ever, 1939) is, astoundingly, 75 years old this year, and has been given a souped-up special Blu-ray release for the occasion. As they’ve done with several other big anniversary releases, Warner Bros.’ 75th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Gone With the Wind comes in large white box that contains several goodies beyond just the three packed Blu-ray discs and one double-sided DVD. The release contains the hours and hours of extras that were included in previous 70th anniversary releases, including the excellent 6-hour documentary about MGM. So, for Windies that don’t already own the already excellent 70th anniversary version, this may be the time to plunk down some cash.
In the past, WB has offered some inspired tchotchkes in their box set, from a Casablanca coaster set to a Singin’ in the Rain umbrella. This fan was dying of curiosity to see what Warner Bros. Would come up with.
Most prominent in the set is a hardcover book called “Forever Scarlett: The Immortal Style of Gone Wind the Wind” is handsome, if a bit curious. Written by “Project Runway contestant Austin Scarlett”, the book gives an overview of the fashion of the Civil War era in reality and in the movie, as well as a little bit about the film’s dresses currently at the Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. I wish there was more about the dresses, especially the preservation, than about Mr. Scarlett, but still it is interesting if relatively slight, considering the rich topic.
Additionally, the box set includes a folded man’s handkerchief with a wrapper that says, “Never, at any crisis in your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.” The monogram? “RB”. (Haw!) Then finally, collector’s set includes a small wind-up music box with an image of Rhett and Scarlett (wind it up to hear “Tara’s Theme” by Max Steiner).
The two new extras on the discs are interesting, but may or may not be worth the upgrade except for hardcore fans who don’t have the film on Blu-ray yet. “Old South/New South” is a half-hour doc about the disparities (especially about slavery) between the fiction and reality as portrayed in Gone With the Wind, as well as about the resiliency of the South, from the Civil War, all the way up to Hurricane Katrina. I found “Gone With the Wind: Hollywood Comes to Atlanta” (approximately 13 minutes) to be kind of fun as I recently visited Atlanta for the first time. OK, let me rephrase: Yes, I visited Atlanta for the first time, specifically for the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind. Really just a bunch of raw footage from newsreels of the premiere of the film in Atlanta, it is still fun to see how, then and now, Hollywood glamour whip up such huge excitement when taken directly to the masses.
I know several hardcore movie fans who have never seen Gone With the Wind. Now is the time to do it. The film, for one, looks better than ever. As a drama, as a love story and even, yes, as a comedy, the movie is still top-notch. If you feel at all squeamish about the romanticized slavery in the story, there are plenty of extras in this set to offer historical perspectives (including the still-awful fact that fantastic Hattie McDaniel, who won the Oscar for her portrayal of Mammy, wasn’t allowed to be present at the Atlanta premiere because she was black). And if four hours sounds too long (and yes, it IS long), just remember that time when you binge-watched Dexter for a whole weekend. I’m just saying that now, Gone With the Wind‘s 75th year, is a great time to visit the land of Tara, whether for the first time, or the umpteenth time.