Perhaps the key reason why audiences were so moved by Gone With The Wind when it opened in late 1939 was because they saw the Civil War agonies endured by Scarlett O’Hara as a metaphor for the deprivations of the Great Depression. On top of which they knew from experience that what matters in hard times is backbone and gumption, which is why they saw Vivien Leigh‘s Scarlett, a selfish but feisty survivor, as one of their own.
Which is why Gone With The Wind is probably striking the same sort of chord today as well, given our current travails with Great Depression 2.0. And why Molly Haskell‘s new book, Frankly My Dear: Gone With The Wind Revisited, may sell better now than if it had come out, say, five or ten years ago.
“Scarlett is the perfect character for the times,” Haskell recently told MacLean‘s Peter Shawn. “She has that combination of suffering, glamour and hope that people are looking for. Even though the story was set in the Civil War, audiences saw it as a Depression-era fable. This was a story speaking about their situation and their problems.”
Which is why a similar reception may greet the release later this year of a newly remastered Gone With The Wind Blu-ray from Warner Home Video.
In a 2.17.09 interview with High-Def Digest’s David Krauss, WHV’s George Feltenstein said that a GWTW Blu-Ray would be among a “murderer’s row” of classic releases later this year (along with The Wizard of Oz and North By Northwest).
Both Oz and Gone With The Wind “were remastered in 2K Ultra Resolution three or four years ago for splashy DVD releases,” Krauss writes, “but have been completely overhauled once again to make sure they meet all of Blu-ray’s exacting standards.
“‘What was perfection two to three years ago is not now,’ Feltenstein says. ‘We thought Gone With the Wind would be good to go on Blu-ray with what was done previously, plus $200,000 for dirt cleaning. But to look perfect, we had to start all over from scratch at enormous cost. I took it to management and there was no hesitation. Having a film like Gone With the Wind on Blu-ray will set a new standard and pave the way for more classic releases.”