“Gone With the Wind” is back on HBO Max — but with a new, nearly five-minute introduction by TCM’s Jacqueline Stewart, professor of cinema at the University of Chicago.
While Stewart, who is African-American, says the film holds “undeniable cultural significance,” she also notes it denies “the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”
Her intro provides historical context: “Gone With the Wind” presents “the Antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based.”
Also, Hattie McDaniel, who won an Oscar for playing Mammy — the first black actor to do so — was not permitted to sit with her cast members at the ceremony in Los Angeles.
“Watching ‘Gone With the Wind’ can be uncomfortable, even painful,” says Stewart. “Still, it is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form for viewing and discussion.”
In addition to Stewart’s new intro, HBO Max added a second feature, an hour-long panel discussion filmed at the TCM film festival in April of 2019, entitled “The complicated legacy of ‘Gone With the Wind.’”
HBO Max’s decision to take down “Gone With the Wind” came a day after screenwriter John Riley (“12 Years a Slave”) wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times asking WarnerMedia to remove the film from circulation. He cited its racist imagery and romanticized version of the Confederacy.
(HBO Max and TCM are both owned by Warner Media.)