When originally released theatrically in the UK in 1940, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'A' rating.
Originally shot in a 1.37:1 ratio; the prints re-released in 1967 by MGM, were converted to a simulated wide screen ratio, chopping strips at the top and bottom of the image.
For its fiftieth anniversary in 1989 a special restored version was prepared using some of the original negatives, some sections of which had been heavily damaged by time. This version restores the original 1.37:1 ratio, but has been usually projected in a 1.66:1 ratio because modern theaters lack the equipment to properly display the original screen size.
New Line Cinema spent $1 million to prepare a restored version using the original Technicolor printing process. This version was released theatrically June 1998.
The first broadcast showing, on Nov. 7, 1976, had an entirely unfamiliar moment in the scenic backgrounds of the scrolling prologue. In all known prints, the last scene was of slaves driving oxen toward the camera, silhouetted against a sunset sky. But NBC's print ended the prologue on a blue sky with moving clouds.
The rough cut shown to MGM executives in July 1939 ran four and a half hours. By September 1939 it had been trimmed to three hours and forty minutes for a preview showing in Riverside, California. Further additions (including a fifth shooting of the opening scene) and deletions brought it to its final running time in December of three hours and forty-two minutes.
Foreign versions of the film included a scrolling text prologue to explain the circumstances leading to the American civil war.
Issued in Argentina by MGM in 1984 on VHS (in two cassettes) with the opening original prologue with a special one for Foreign versions explaining the circumstances leading to the American civil war. This film went into the public domain in Argentina between 1989 and 1995, and during those years several minor video editors published their own versions (usually lifting them from American editions) and with much more quality than what MGM did in 1984. Several of this companies issued the VHS on a single cassette (the N-PAL color system allowed this), although removing the intermission and the exit music. In 1986, for its second Argentinean TV exhibition two different versions were simultaneously televised. LS85 TV Canal 13 of Buenos Aires used standard dubbed in Spanish print that has also been used by Turner Entertainment and, now, Warner Bros. At the same, on another channel, LS86 TV Canal 2 used a different print, without permission from the copyright owners: the print used was an older dubbed version from Spain, probably lifted from an MGM video edition, featuring all of the titles and signs in the entire film in Spanish. The source from that print was a company called VEA (Video Editora Argentina) that had a partnership with the television station at the time.