Two weeks after WarnerMedia attempted to quietly remove the Civil War drama Gone With the Wind from HBO Max, the streaming service has restored the 1939 film, now with two additional videos that serve to discuss the historical context of the classic film and address the film's handling of the topic of slavery and treatment of Black characters. Gone With the Wind itself has been restored to the streaming service in its original format, though one of the two additional videos have been added not only as a separate entry but as an introduction to the film's presentation.
In the first video, the one that is also added as an introduction to the film, TCM host and film scholar Jaqueline Stewart explains why the film needs to be viewed in its original form as well as offers some context, noting that even when the film was first made there was controversy around how it would approach the film's Black characters and chattel slavery. Stewart also notes that the film is "one of the most enduringly popular films of all time" that continues to have an impact on entertainment even today.
The second video is an hour long recording of a panel discussion, "The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind" from the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2019 as moderated by author and historian Donald Bogle. That video digs a bit deeper into the controversy that has surrounded Gone With the Wind over the decades.
Earlier this week, WarnerMedia Entertainment President of Business Operations and Productions Sandra Dewey had confirmed that the film would be restored to HBO Max soon as well as at that time confirmed Stewart's introduction. Stewart, who is 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," Stewart wrote. "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."