ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

A restored and remastered 'Gone With the Wind'

DVDs and MoviesEntertainmentMoviesBlu-ray DiscsVivien LeighBette DavisAcademy Awards

To celebrate the movie's 70th birthday, Warner Home Video is releasing a newly restored and remastered version Tuesday of "Gone With the Wind" for the first time on Blu-ray, as well as a standard DVD.

The Technicolor film has never looked better because of new digital software and the fact that Warners was able to scan the original negative.

"It is in beautiful condition," says George Feltenstein, senior vice president of theatrical catalog marketing for Warners, of the negative. "They also had a 1939 print to use for color references. I think we have the most absolute effective color rendering yet."

Though he's watched the film countless times, Feltenstein says, he saw things he never had before when he watched the Blu-ray.

"I never noticed there were horses standing back of Scarlett and the Tarleton twins at the beginning of the film," he says. "Those little red ribbons in Scarlett's hair look velvety scrumptious and pop out like 3-D."

Among the new extras are a documentary on 1939 -- the year that is considered the crown jewel of classic Hollywood filmmaking -- a look at the legacy of the film and the 1980 TV movie "Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War." Film historian Rudy Behlmer supplies the commentary.

Winner of numerous Academy Awards, the melodrama revolves around the feisty Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), who struggles to maintain the family plantation of Tara during the ravages of the Civil War.

Behlmer says "GWTW" captured the imagination of audiences seven decades ago and continues to today for many reasons, but primarily for Leigh's brilliant interpretation of the manipulative Scarlett.

Practically every actress in Hollywood, including Bette Davis and Paulette Goddard, wanted the juicy role. But producer David O. Selznick chose the petite British actress, who had made some films in England but was mostly unknown to American audiences.

Leigh was "perfect for all the various dimensions of that role. She was able to deliver all the aspects of this somewhat complex heroine," Behlmer noted.

Feltenstein maintains that the passion of those who made the film "makes it the greatest motion picture of all time and will retain that crown forever in my mind."

Though the film reflects the prevailing racism of its time and presents slavery in a sympathetic light, Feltenstein believes that in other ways it is remarkably contemporary.

"In these times of hardship and fear, the themes of struggling over adversity resonate more," says Feltenstein.

"I feel it is our responsibility with this film to make sure it retains all of the elements that have kept it at the forefront of cinematic entertainment for the last 70 years."

susan.king@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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