Gone With the Wind has now been restored to the streaming service HBO Max, just two weeks after the movie was removed. The 1939 Civil War drama was taken down temporarily in order to have material added to contextualize the depiction of slavery in the movie. There have now been two additional videos added that serve to discuss the historical context of the classic movie and address the handling of the topic of slavery and the treatment of black characters.
Gone With the Wind itself has been restored to the streaming service in its entirety, with one of the two additional videos added as both an optional, separate entry, and as an introduction to the movie's presentation. This introductory video is presented by TCM host and film scholar Jaqueline Stewart, who explains why the depiction of slavery needs to be given context for modern audiences, as well as noting that even at the time the movie was made there was controversy surrounding how Gone With the Wind approached the movie's black characters. Stewart also clarifies that it is important to show Gone With the Wind in its original form, as the movie remains "one of the most enduringly popular films of all time" which continues to influence entertainment all these decades later.
The second video is a separate entry to the movie itself entitled The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind. The video is an hour-long recording of a panel discussion from the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2019, for which author and historian Donald Bogle was the moderator. The video goes into more detail regarding the controversy surrounding Gone With the Wind, both when the movie was made and on into modern times.
Despite some believing that Gone With the Wind would be permanently removed from HBO Max, WarnerMedia Entertainment President of Business Operations and Productions Sandra Dewey had confirmed that the movie would be restored to HBO Max soon. Stewart, who is also a professor of cinema studies at the University of Chicago, recently wrote an op-ed on CNN following Gone With the Wind's removal.
"For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us. Right now, people are turning to movies for racial re-education, and the top-selling books on Amazon are about anti-racism and racial inequality. If people are really doing their homework, we may be poised to have our most informed, honest and productive national conversations yet about Black lives on screen and off."
She also added, "As the current debates about putting up, taking down, and contextualizing Gone with the Wind make clear, it is a film that continues to expose deep fissures in our interpretations of American history, film history and the relationship between the two. The film has loyal fans, and it has vocal critics who critique its version of Southern history with the same language Black activists used when they picketed the film 80 years ago. But as I saw at a jam-packed panel discussion on "The Complicated Legacy of 'Gone with the Wind'" at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival, there are people who love the film, and others who love to hate it, and still others who are nonetheless curious about how other folks respond to it."
Earlier this month, WarnerMedia attempted to quietly remove Gone With the Wind from the streaming service HBO Max. The news that the streaming service would be pulling Gone with the Wind quickly went viral, with members of the public both questioning and applauding the decision. The movie was pulled from its library in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd by a cop while in police custody.
A request was made by Academy Award-winning writer-director John Ridley, who wrote the biographical drama 12 Years a Slave based on the life of Solomon Northup, who called for the movie's removal from HBO Max saying, "It doesn't just 'fall short' with regard to representation. It is a film that glorifies the antebellum south. It is a film that, when it is not ignoring the horrors of slavery, pauses only to perpetuate some of the most painful stereotypes of people of color."
HBO Max offered an official statement at the time, explaining their reasoning behind temporarily removing Gone With the Wind, and what changes will have been made when the movie becomes available again."Gone With the Wind is a product of its time and depicts some of the ethnic and racial prejudices that have, unfortunately, been commonplace in American society." the statement read.
"These racist depictions were wrong then and are wrong today, and we felt that to keep this title up without an explanation and a denouncement of those depictions would be irresponsible. These depictions are certainly counter to WarnerMedia's values, so when we return the film to HBO Max, it will return with a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement of those very depictions, but will be presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. If we are to create a more just, equitable and inclusive future, we must first acknowledge and understand our history."
The intention was always to have the movie temporarily removed and to add a new introduction from a black scholar in order to contextualize the depiction of slavery and people of color in order to "acknowledge and understand our history."
Since the initial announcement that HBO Max would be temporarily removing Gone With the Wind from its library, fans of the movie have rushed to Amazon to purchase the movie on DVD, Blu-ray, and the 70th Anniversary Edition. At one point, Gone with the Wind occupied the best-selling number 1 slot, the number 8 slot, and the number 9 slots.
Gone with the Wind tells the story of a manipulative woman and a roguish man who carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction. The movie won 8 Oscars, including the first Oscar ever awarded to a black person which was awarded to Hattie McDaniel for her role as Mammy. Gone with the Wind was also given the award for Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actress in a Leading Role; Best Writing, Screenplay; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction, and has been considered an American classic for decades.
Gone With the Wind and the additional videos that now accompany the movie are available to stream on official www.hbomax.com streaming app.