Oscar and the Golden Globe best foreign film (1993) with Indo-china, which won five césar awards, including best actress for Catherine Deneuve, Régis Wargnier is a film director with a passion for history. With the East-West (1999), a film about the life of a family under Stalin, it has been awarded internationally by the international press. In 2002, he recurred with Man to Man, another historical drama based on a screenplay by writer William Boyd.
Elected in 2007 at the Academy of fine arts at the headquarters of Henri Verneuil, the filmmaker also appears on the steering committee of the Foundation Culture and diversity created by Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and which aims to promote the access of young people from priority education to the arts and culture. In the wake of the controversy over the film gone with the wind, considered to be "racist" and removed from the streaming platform, HBO-Max – and before the censorship of the Warner Bros, who asked at the Grand Rex in to remove the film from its poster on June 23, Wargnier has reacted to this trend that wants to rewrite history according to the standards of the time.
The Point : Your reaction about the streaming platform HBO Max which has withdrawn its programs, gone with the wind, a film considered today a racist ?
Régis Wargnier : I don't understand. The novel and the film are part of a very precise period. Get them out of their historical and political context is an error. The first was published in 1936 and has been a huge success, Pulitzer Prize in 1937. And the second is out in the cinemas in 1939 and has toured the world, ranked the fourth best film of all time by the American Film Institute. Its author, Margaret Mitchell, was a native of the South, where lived his great-grandparents, who experienced the Civil war in Georgia. His childhood was rocked by their story. Remains that today, when we see Big Mamma, the girl in black played by Hattie McDaniel, that's not happening any more.
Yet after you have been banned from screening in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 1939, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to receive an oscar in 1940, championed by the stars of the film, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, and producer David O. Selznick.
of course, it is necessary to listen to his speech with great dignity to understand the situation of this actress at the time of the segregation that was rampant in California. It is a lesson for us.
In fact, the film should be released online on HBO Max with a " contextualization ", in other words, a note of warning to be clear of any responsibility. What do you think ?
I think that managers don't have to do that. The audience are not children and know how to perfectly deliver a film in its time, take a step back to segregation. Re-read or re-watch today's gone with the wind allows you to judge how, in 1936, it saw the american Civil war, how certain racist attitudes provoked no reaction, how there was no awareness. It is very interesting from a sociological level, political and human. I believe that it is necessary to leave the novel and the film in their juice, and the register in the school curricula in order to better know the history of America. What's the point of putting a cardboard in the opening of the film ? No.
We can see that censorship is not far away and key the United States some of the films of Griffith (Birth of a nation, Intolerance), cartoons, Disney or the Simpsons. Even your oscar winning film Indochine could be threatened, no ?
Bah, yes ! However, my film is more on the side of the revolution, that of the colonizers, of the possessors.
do you Think that after the United States and France follows the same slope, what we have seen in universities like the Sorbonne ?
I don't think. The story is different. The problem of colonization, decolonization and immigration in France is different from the history of slavery and segregation in the United States. In France, if there is racist behaviour or reactions to anti-immigrant, he's not a segregationist model that prohibits Blacks, Arabs or Asians to ride in a bus. There has been no apartheid in France. It is totally different.
Don't you have the impression that one wants to rewrite history, to erase certain films, certain books ?
Yes and once again it is always clear a look at a time. This is the case of Margaret Mitchell, which tells the story of the american Civil war experienced by his grandparents. Beyond the love story, the film also bears witness to the violence that seizes a Southern State, Georgia. Each era has its films. Today, the american history, it is already reviewed, rewritten through Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained or Twelve Years a Slave of Steve McQueen. It is our eyes today. I do not believe that in thirty or forty years, one might wish to deny or erase these films-there.
What do you think of the situation in the United States in the wake of the tragedy of George Floyd ?
In France, I believe that we did not suspect the extent of the ground swell that runs throughout the country. The camp democrat is low, and Donald Trump, even if it is in bad shape, there really isn't a opponent. America lives a funny moment and no one knows where this will lead us. It was nice to have pictures, stories, the phenomenon eludes us. The white Americans who founded the country were well aware that they will be in the minority in thirty years, overwhelmed by the Latinos and Asians.