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
MGM
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 Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).