Gone with the Wind is once again streaming on HBO Max. Only, this time around, it's accompanied by a 4-and-a-half minute prologue that addresses the film's relationship with racial inequalities, slavery, and life in the Civil War-era Antebellum South.
Film scholar Jacqueline Stewart, a TCM host and professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, delivers the video prologue. It was added as a special feature after the film was pulled amid controversy surrounding its inclusion on HBO's streaming service.
Gone with the Wind returns to HBO Max with prologue
According to TVLine, Stewart opens the new prologue with some film history. She touches on Gone with the Wind's Academy Awards success, its "highly anticipated" arrival as an adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's popular novel, and the note that it stands as the highest-grossing film of all time when adjusted for inflation.
But, even at the time of its 1939 release, Gone with the Wind "was not universally praised," Stewart clarifies. Even then it was seen to present "the Antebellum South as a romantic, idyllic setting that's tragically been lost to the past."
The film depicts a "world of grace and beauty, without acknowledging the brutalities of the system of chattel slavery upon which this world is based," Stewart says.
"The treatment of this world through the lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery as well its legacies of racial inequality," she adds.
Gone with the Wind "denies the horrors of slavery," HBO intro says
Stewart then reiterates that she and HBO Max are not censoring the film or American history.
"It is important that classic Hollywood films are available to us in their original form," she says, to "invite viewers to reflect on their own beliefs when watching them now."
"Gone With the Wind, with its landmark production values, signature scenes and iconic characters has shaped the way generations have pictured slavery and the reconstruction period that followed," Stewart continues.
"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," she concludes.
In addition to Stewart's prologue, an hour-long panel discussion, titled "The Complicated Legacy of Gone with the Wind," appears as a special feature with the movie on HBO Max.
The changes come two weeks after HBO first temporarily lifted the title from their service.