Silver screen classic “Gone with the Wind” returned to the HBO Max streaming platform last week, along with two extra features discussing its depiction of race during the US Civil War era.
The 1939 Oscar-winning film was pulled from the streaming platform in June as mass protests against racism, dubbed Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, broke out across the US. The protests reflect a mass reckoning with systemic racism triggered by police brutality particularly against people of colour.
HBO Max, which is owned by WarnerMedia Entertainment, said at the time that the film, which is set on a Georgia plantation, would return with a discussion of its historical context.
In late June, the film returned accompanied by a four minute introduction and a recording of a panel discussion at the Turner Classic Movie (TCM) festival in 2019.
The film “presents the antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutality of chattel slavery upon which this world was based,” TCM host and film scholar Jacqueline Stewart says in the introduction.
“Eighty years after its initial release, ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a film of undeniable cultural significance,” Steward added, “It is not only a major document of Hollywood’s racist practices of the past, but also an enduring work of popular culture that speaks directly to the racial inequalities that persist in media and society today.”
Stewart noted that the film won eight Academy Awards (Oscars), including for best picture. It also set a milestone when supporting actress Hattie McDaniel, who played a maid in the film, became the first African-American actor to win an Oscar.
She also noted that at the award ceremony, McDaniel had to sit at a table far apart from her white cast members because of racial protocols at the time.