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'It denies horrors of slavery': 'Gone With the Wind' returns to HBO Max with new warning

The 1939 epic has been reinstated on the US streaming service with a disclaimer about its outdated depictions

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in 'Gone With The Wind'. Getty Images
Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in 'Gone With The Wind'. Getty Images

It was shelved from a popular streaming service earlier this month, but now, Gone With the Wind has returned to HBO Max.

However, the 1939 war epic has not only been quietly reinstated. Instead, the Victor Fleming-directed work is now accompanied by two videos acknowledging the film's "complicated legacy" and historical context.

The movie, which stars Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, now also comes with a disclaimer that the cinematic classic "denies the horrors of slavery".

The lengthy romance is set in the South during the American Civil War, and has long been criticised for its depictions of slavery. Based on Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel of the same name, the tale features black servants who appear passively content and devoted to their white employers, in a seemingly sentimental take on the pre-Civil War era.

When it was taken down from HBO Max two weeks ago, the streaming service said the film was "a product of its time" that contained "ethnic and racial prejudices" that "were wrong then and are wrong today".

The film was returned to the platform this week, accompanied by two videos exploring the historical context of Gone With the Wind.

The first, a four-and-a-half minute clip featuring film scholar Jacqueline Stewart, explains that the movie "should be viewed in its original form, contextualised and discussed".

Gone With the Wind presents the Antebellum South as a world of grace and beauty without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based,” Stewart says in the clip, according to Variety.

“The film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery, as well as its legacies of racial inequality.”

In 1939, Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy, became the first African-American to win an Oscar when she claimed Best Supporting Actress for her role. However, she was separated from her fellow cast members at the ceremony as the venue, Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel, enforced racial segregation at the time.

The second video HBO Max has added to its catalogue is an hour-long panel discussion filmed at the TCM Classic Film Festival in April 2019, entitled 'The Complicated Legacy of Gone With the Wind'.

The streaming platform follows in the footsteps of other broadcasters and networks that have added a warning to films that depict offensive stereotypes.

'Aladdin' will have a disclaimer when played on Sky's cinema channel. Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures
'Aladdin' will have a disclaimer when played on Sky's cinema channel. Courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

UK satellite broadcaster Sky announced this week it will add a disclaimer warning of "outdated attitudes" to a number of movie titles available on its cinema service. The warning will be played before titles including The Jungle Book, the 1992 animated version of Aladdin, Flash Gordon, The Last Samurai and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

When Disney+ launched in the US in November 2019, meanwhile, the streaming platform added a warning on some of its children's films, advising viewers that the content "may contain outdated cultural depictions".

The warning can be found on movies including Dumbo, Fantasia, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp and The Jungle Book.

Updated: June 25, 2020 01:41 PM

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