'Gone with the Wind' Is Back on HBO Max with Turner Classic Movies Providing Historical Context

Gone with the Wind was suddenly removed from HBO Max two weeks ago in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests after a plea from 12 Years a Slave writer John Ridley to remove the movie. The streaming service quickly acted and explained the movie would eventually return with a disclaimer about the inaccurate and insensitive depictions of slavery in the Antebellum South and discussions about the historical context of the classic film from 1939. Now the movie has returned to HBO Max, this time with Turner Classic Movies providing two videos that provide more insight into the film’s legacy.

Variety has word on Gone with the Wind back on HBO Max. The film, directing by Victor Fleming, follows Vivien Leigh as a southern belle named Scarlett O’Hara, a pampered socialite living on a sprawling plantation who becomes entangled in a love triangle with two men, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). It all unfolds throughout the South’s battle in the Civil War and the Reconstruction that followed. Still, it does so in a fashion that sentimentalizes the region and glosses over the real prejudice that existed there, especially when it comes to slavery.

Now Gone with the Wind is accompanied by two videos from Turner Classic Movies. They both a snapshot of the film’s place in history and the poorly conceived dramatization of slavery at the center of it, as well as a more extensive discussion of the film’s complicated legacy over time.

The first video, running at nearly four and a half minutes, is an extra feature available to watch when you go to the movie profile page for Gone with the Wind. Turner Classic Movies host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart says the movie 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.” Stewart continues:

“The film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”

She goes on to talk about how the black cast members of Gone with the Wind were not allowed to attend the film’s premiere, and  Academy Award-nominated co-star Hattie McDaniel was not allowed to sit with the rest of the cast at the Oscars ceremony back then, thanks to segregation laws still in place. It’s precisely the right context that should be provided with the movie.

As for the second video from TCM, it’s an hour-long panel discussion entitled, “The Complicated Legacy of ‘Gone With the Wind,’” which only just unfolded at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2019. It’s moderated by author and historian Donald Bogle, and it will be something you’ll want to watch after you’ve seen the movie.

Many hotheaded individuals decried HBO Max’s decision to take down Gone with the Wind, even though it was clearly said to be a temporary measure. They deemed the decision to the erasing history and even censorship, but obviously, those people can’t read beyond a headline or understand what the word temporary means. Now you can watch Gone with the Wind on HBO Max again, and if you’ve never understood why the film is problematic, hopefully the accompanying videos from TCM will enlighten you.

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