On December 15, 1939, Gone With the Wind premiered in Atlanta, Georgia. The film, a 3-hour epic set during the American Civil War, has become the most-watched movie in the United States. In addition to romantic drama, Gone with the Wind shows many of the changes endured by the South during and after the war.

Gone With the Wind is not without critics, however. The film focuses on the romantic and economic status of a wealthy white family living on a plantation near Atlanta. The social upheaval experienced by African Americans in the South following the Civil War is virtually ignored or trivialized. The complex conversation about race is further complicated by the fact that Hattie McDaniel, the actress who played what many consider a stereotyped character, became the first African American to be nominated for an acting Oscar—and the first to win, something that would not happen for another 25 years.

Civil War
Noun

(1860-1865) American conflict between the Union (north) and Confederacy (south).

complex
Noun

group of structures or parts that are somehow related.

complicate
Verb

to make more complex, difficult, or detailed.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

Oscar
Noun

award given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for achievements in motion-picture production and performance.

plantation
Noun

large estate or farm involving large landholdings and many workers.

premier
Adjective

leading or primary.

race
Noun

arbitrary grouping of people based on genetics and physical characteristics.

stereotype
Noun

a general characteristic associated with a group of people.

virtually
Adverb

almost or nearly.

wealthy
Adjective

very rich.