Features and Columns · Movies

‘Gone With the Wind’ and the Difference Between Censorship and Context

Watch the introduction that now precedes ‘Gone With the Wind’ on HBO Max denouncing the film’s portrayal of slavery and situating the film in the context in which it was created.
Gone With The Wind Vivien Hattie
By  · Published on July 9th, 2020

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It’s ultimately a programmer’s job to manage and interpret art. And some pieces of art require more management and interpretation than others. Which brings us to Gone With the Wind. It’s one of the most enduringly popular films of all time. But its derogatory slave stereotypes and romantic view of the Antebellum South are uncomfortable. For some, even painful. But to edit or deny access on the basis of that discomfort whitewashes what the film represents as a historical and cultural document.

HBO Max’s removal of Gone With the Wind in June was not an attempt to re-write history. Quite the opposite. Time Warner removed the film with the intention of returning it to its library with added historical context. That context took the shape of a supplementary video recording of a panel discussion moderated by author and historian Donald Bogle and an introductory video, which now plays before the movie starts. The film itself is unaltered because in Time Warner’s words: “To do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed.”

In the intro, linked below, Turner Classic Movies host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart sets the stage for Gone With the Wind. Stewart describes the film’s cultural significance and controversies, advocating for the importance of preserving Old Hollywood films for viewing and discussion.

You can watch “What to Know When Watching Gone With the Wind” here:

Who made this?

This clip comes courtesy of the fine folks at Turner Classic Movies. TCM is a two-time Peabody award-winning network and trusted source for all things Golden Age. You can follow them on their YouTube account here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.