‘Gone With the Wind’ Retooled by HBO Max for Modern Teaching Rebranding

Gone With The Wind

On again-off again-on again,  this has been HBO Max’s recent relationship with the Classic 1939 Blockbuster “Gone With The Wind”.

On June 10, 2020, HBO MAX decided to pull the film in the wake of the George Floyd protests with its romantic notions of inducing fables of reconstruction and slavery as benign as a result of an op-ed by Director John Ridley for the Los Angeles Times. However, this action was met by immediate cries of censorship from film buffs.

It won an Oscar in 1939 for Best for Picture “Gone With The Wind” ranks number 6th on AFI’s 2007 list of the best American movies, and is still one of the most profitable movies of all time 

“We failed to put the disclaimer in there which basically sets up the issues that this movie really brings up,” WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt said in an interview. “We took it off and we’re going to bring it back with the proper context. It’s what we should have done. I don’t regret taking it down for a second. I only wish we had put it up in the first place with the disclaimer. And, you know, we just didn’t do that.”

HBO Max will re-release the controversial GWTW at a TBA date and a special introduction by the black University of Chicago Film Professor and Black Cinema House Director Jacqueline Stewart.

Stewart, who also hosts Silent Sundays for TCM, in an op-ed for CNN on Saturday wrote she’ll “provide an introduction placing the film in its multiple historical contexts” upon GWTW’s return.

HBO Max is giving Stewart this opportunity to help retool “Gone With The Wind” for modern teaching rebranding.

Stewart writes, “But it is precisely because of the ongoing, painful patterns of racial injustice and disregard for Black lives that GWTW should stay in circulation and remain available for viewing, analysis and discussion.”

The film, in a historical context, brought roles to black actors in a major Hollywood film when it was rare; most notably to Hattie McDaniel who was the Black person to win an Academy Award as Mammy, and Butterfly McQueen as Prissy the maid.

Stewart argues that both McDaniel and Stewart steal the movie with “their unique facial expressions, gestures, vocal inflections and brands of humor” which was an opportunity unusually afforded by Actors at the time.

Stewart sees the modern teaching rebranding of GWTW as “an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us”, and that “people are turning to movies for racial re-education”.  This affords the opportunity, along with Stewart, for HBO Max to retool “Gone With The Wind” for modern teaching rebranding. 

By Alexander Campbell

Entertainment Weekly: HBO Max to re-release Gone With The Wind with new introduction

CNN: Why we can’t turn away from ‘Gone with the Wind’

USAToday: Gone with the Wind’ returning to HBO Max with introduction of ‘historical context’ by Black scholar Jacqueline Stewart

Photo by Vivien Leigh Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Creative License

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