Cineworld opening anniversary screenings of Flash Gordon with social context warning

Flash Gordon
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The 40th anniversary cinema re-release of Flash Gordon in the UK comes with a note at the start that puts the film into a modern social contact.

As UK multiplex cinemas struggle to find films to show during the ongoing pandemic (thank goodness for the distributors who have been releasing new films, we should note), we’ve seen a spate of anniversary screenings, celebrating classic movies from yesteryear. Inception, The Empire Strikes Back, Dirty Dancing, Notting Hill and more are all celebrating ‘big birthdays’ in 2020 and thus, with plenty of screens to spare, have been reissued.

One such film, celebrating its 40th this year, is Flash Gordon, the science fiction action adventure romp which released in the same year as The Empire Strikes Back but offered a bright, pulpy, comic strip style in comparison to the darker stylings of the Star Wars sequel. In fact, one of Flash Gordon's stars, the indomitable Brian Blessed can be found adorning the cover of Film Stories magazine this very month, chatting in a massive interview about his experience of working on the film.

Whilst very much a favourite of many, Cineworld has opted follow Sky Cinema by preceding screenings of the film with a social context warning, advising viewers that the film they are about to see was made some time ago and therefore could be seen to contain outdated representation. The social context message is something we are seeing with greater frequency of late, with the highest profile case of course, being Gone With The Wind in the US on HBO Max.

In the case of Gone With The Wind, HBO added an introduction to the film by Jaqueline Stewart, a film professor, explaining the film’s problematic racial representation but also justifying the importance of allowing it to be screened. Likewise, Mel Brooks’ 1974 classic Blazing Saddles has also had a pre-viewing message added.

It strikes us that this is a solid way forward: that the films are presented as intended, with open acknowledgement that some things look out of place to modern eyes. Expect this to be the common path forward for more re-releases in the future.


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