Okay, they didn't use CGI back in 1939, but superfluous and wasteful special effects have persisted as long as movies have existed. As is the case with pretty much every book-to-movie translation, Gone With the Wind makes a few changes to the source material. Yet, one of the key details that manic producer David Selznick obsessed over was the main character's eye color. Scarlett O'Hara's eyes were described as green in the book, but actress Vivien Leigh had a pair of pearly blues.
Selznick was hellbent on remaining faithful to the book, so the crew went out of their way to use every pre-CGI, pre-contact lens trick imaginable to make sure Leigh's eyes looked green. And this is for a four-hour movie.
Keep in mind, there are vast differences between the film and the novel. Motivations that are explained in the novel are never approached in the movie. An entire sequence of events was shifted around. Whole characters from the source material didn't make it to the screen, including two of Scarlett's own children. But hey, at least her eyes matched the dress.
We could fill 20 pages with pointless alterations made to classic movies, so we're going to stick to just a couple of the most egregious examples. Case in point: there's not much sound reasoning for what Steven Spielberg did to the re-release of E.T. He was probably coming back to the film with a new perspective after having children, but that's no excuse for swapping out the cops' shotguns for walkie-talkies. Thankfully, he repented his decision for the blu-ray release.
The same thing happened to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, but this time there wasn't even any percieved child endangerment. All it took was someone looking at this Nazi asshole flying off a cliff and deciding that this matte painting...
...wasn't good enough for the HD broadcast version. So someone whipped up a CGI cliff face.
The only upside here in this ugly, out-of-place computer-generated topography was that it's the last thing this Nazi shitstain ever saw. Otherwise it's a meaningless update that's counterproductive to the awesomeness of one of history's best adventure movies. Spielberg repented yet again in this case, as the blu-ray release reverts this shot back to its natural state.
Star Wars is probably the first thing that springs to mind when it comes to these kinds of revisions, but there's something else even worse about that franchise...
The amount of senseless garbage in the prequels could fill fifty clone factories, and it's tempting to say "they're all just re-colored green screens with no souls," but that'd be unfair. You can't blame George Lucas for using CGI to realize exotic alien races and intense space battles. No, the real crime is Padme's pear.
That pear, the one Anakin Force-floats over to Padme, never existed in the real world. It's a computerized figment of a fruit, made painfully obvious by the way it slides onto the fork. Hell, that "bite" she takes looks like a toddler trying ice cream for the first time. All the team had to do was go down to the bodega on the corner and pick up a pear, hook it up to some strings and clean up the picture later.
This is the worst abuse of special effects in a movie where every single clone trooper is made of CGI. That single slice of pear perfectly encapsulates everything wrong with the prequels and probably also The Hobbit movies. The fruit isn't real, but the anger is.