French minister slams decision to pull 'Gone With the Wind' from Paris cinema
Gone With the Wind (movie screenshot)

The Grand Rex cinema in Paris said on Friday it had been forced to cancel a scheduled screening of the 1939 classic amid a renewed controversy over the film’s racist content, a move France's culture minister described as “incomprehensible”.

The iconic Paris cinema had programmed the Oscar-winning Civil War epic for June 23 as part of special screenings to mark French cinemas’ reopening following a lengthy coronavirus lockdown.

However, it was forced to cancel the screening after the film's distributor Warner Bros decided to pull the movie amid an anti-racism backlash that has rocked the entertainment landscape in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd.

Writing on Twitter, French Culture Minister Franck Riester slammed an “incomprehensible and unacceptable” decision, adding that France “will always defend the freedom to create and distribute works of art”.

The dispute comes days after HBO Max announced it was pulling "Gone With the Wind" because of its "racist depictions" that were "wrong then and are wrong today".

HBO Max added that it planned to make the movie available again in the future alongside a discussion putting it in its historical context.

The movie, set on a Georgia plantation, won eight Academy Awards including best picture and set a milestone in Hollywood when supporting actress Hattie McDaniel, who played a black maid, became the first African American actor to win an Oscar.