When HBO Max brings back “Gone With the Wind,” a University of Chicago professor who hosts a Turner Classic Movies show will contextualize the film for viewers who choose to stream it.
The recently launched streaming service took the film down last week after “12 Years a Slave” screenwriter John Ridley wrote a Los Angeles Times op-ed saying it was a good time to temporarily take the film down given the nationwide protests regarding the treatment of black people by police.
Jacqueline Stewart will provide the commentary for HBO Max. The first African-American host for TCM, she hosts “Silent Sunday Nights” and is a professor at the University of Chicago’s Department of Cinema and Media Studies.
In an op-ed for CNN, she wrote that she will place “the film in its multiple historical contexts. For me, this is an opportunity to think about what classic films can teach us. 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.”
As Stewart noted, the film was deeply influential in its depiction of the South in the mid-1800s and “romanticizes slavery as a benign and benevolent institution.”
Set in Atlanta and based on a novel by Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell, the 1939 movie is the highest-grossing film in cinema history, adjusted for inflation.
It was beloved by many, hated by many. Ted Turner purchased the MGM film library in 1986 in part to have access to “Gone With the Wind.” It was the first movie to air in 1994 when Turner launched TCM.
Stewart argues that the film remains valuable as “a prime text for examining expressions of white supremacy in popular culture.”
HBO Max has not yet announced when the movie will return but The Washington Post reports it could be as early as this week.
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