Although Chaplin reached the height of his fame during the silent era, only a few commentators have sought to specifically analyze his silent shorts and films apart from his sound era features. Neibaur 2008 and Neibaur 2012 represent important considerations of Chaplin’s earliest years in the film industry, examining his work at the Keystone Studios and Essanay Studios respectively. In addition to offering commentaries on specific films, Neibaur’s studies consider some thorny historical questions regarding Chaplin’s work at each studio and proposes resolutions to lasting questions in the Chaplin scholarship, such as which of Chaplin’s Keystone shorts marked his directorial debut, based on his archival findings. Brownlow 2005 also delves into archival questions regarding Chaplin’s silent era work, relating the story behind his groundbreaking discovery of the behind-the-scenes footage that became the basis for the Unknown Chaplin documentary series and offering details of footage not included in that series. (See Brownlow and Gil 2005 , cited under Documentary Sources for information on the companion series.) Two important film restorations are also cited here. Chaplin 2010 marks one of the most substantial efforts to collect and restore high-quality prints of the shorts that Chaplin made at Keystone, which have long been out of copyright and circulated in degraded forms. The resulting DVD arguably brings us closer than any previous effort to witnessing the actual appearance of the shorts as audiences at the time would have seen them. In a similar vein, Chaplin 2012 includes a highly important recreation of the 1925 silent version of The Gold Rush , which was effectively lost after Chaplin recut the film for its 1942 rerelease. With this release, it is possible again to view the film for which Chaplin said he hoped to be remembered as it was originally shown to audiences.
Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. The south in America before, during and after the Civil War was a particularly racially insensitive place -- that's why the war was fought. But I don't think that "Gone With the Wind" is inaccurate in its depiction of the time and place, so to note that it's racially insensitive is simply accepting what that time and place was like. But there's another issue here. "Gone With the Wind" is an extremely important movie in regard to civil rights and racial equality -- it's the first movie where a black actor, Hattie McDaniel, won an Oscar, which is a very big deal. And just as a little personal note, I love watching Hattie McDaniel steal that film out from under the noses of Clark Gable, Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard. But Hattie McDaniel winning an Oscar is as important to the civil rights movement as Jack Johnson becoming the first black heavyweight champion and Jackie Robinson being the first black professional baseball player. That's my take.