(The Independent) BANNED: The most controversial films
Take some needless violence, a religious satire and a dash of incest – and you’ve got yourself a collection of films too shocking for cinema.
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Banned in Ireland 1971-2000, UK – by Stanley Kubrick (1973-1999), Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Spain
Adapted from Anthony Burgess’s best-selling novel, A Clockwork Orange tells the story of Alex and his gang of violent ‘droogs’ who kill tramps and rape women.
The film is infamous for copycat behaviour, which many thought to be the reason that director Stanley Kubrick withdrew the film in the UK. After his death, his wife Christiane revealed that the actual reason he had the film banned was on the advice of the police after severe threats were made to him and his family.
The Exorcist (1973)
Banned in the UK, Malaysia and Singapore
One of the most controversial horror films of all time tells the story of a 12 year-old girl possessed by a demonic force and the two priests who try and save her soul.
The film received critical acclaim when it was nominated for 10 Oscars, and won 2 for Best Sound and Best Writing.
Life of Brian (1979)
Banned in Norway (1979-1980), Singapore, Ireland (1979-1987)
Brian was born in a stable next to Jesus and as a result is deemed a messiah, but he can’t seem to convince his followers otherwise.
Due to its heavy religious satire, the film was not well-received by many religious activists. In 2009, the thirty-year old ban of the film in the Welsh town of Aberystwyth was finally lifted. Sweden, on the other hand, used the controversy to its advantage, marketing the film as ‘The film so funny that it was banned in Norway’.
The Last Tango in Paris (1973)
Banned in Italy (1972-1986), Singapore, New Zealand, Portugal (1973-1974) and South Korea
A young Parisian woman (Maria Schneider) begins a sordid affair with a middle-aged American businessman (Marlon Brando) who wants their relationship to be based only on sex.
The film became notorious for its butter-lubricated sex scene, which still haunts Schneider, as it wasn’t part of the original script. In the New York Post, 2007, she said ‘I felt humiliated and, to be honest, I felt a little raped . . . Thankfully, there was just one take . . . I never use butter to cook anymore – only olive oil.’
120 Days of Sodom
Banned in Italy, Finland, Australia, West Germany, New Zealand and Norway
Also known as Salò, this film is based on the book by Marquis de Sade which he wrote while imprisoned in the Bastille in 1785. Sade was incarcerated in prison and in an insane asylum for nearly half his life.
In Pasolini’s film, four men of power in Italy: the Duke, the Bishop, the Magistrate and the President, collect a group of teenagers, and subject them to 120 days of torture. Graphically violent, the film was, and is still, banned in several countries for its depiction of sexual torture – particularly to children, as they are raped, mutilated and forced to eat faeces. Despite all of this – the film still excludes some of the horrors of the book – it’s no wonder why the word Sadism was derived from Marquis de Sade’s name.
The director, Pier Paolo Pasolini was no stranger to controversy himself. His first film Accattone (1961) was based on his own novel and its violent depiction of the life of a pimp in the slums of Rome caused a furore in Italy. Many of his films expressing his contentious views on Marxism, atheism, fascism and homosexuality, and with an end as dramatic as a scene in one of his films, he was brutally and mysteriously murdered by being repeatedly run over by his own car.
No Pressure (2010)
A short film scripted by leading British comedy screenwriter Richard Curtis on behalf of the 10:10 environmental campaign achieved the dubious distinction of becoming one of the more short-lived propaganda tools designed to help save humanity after it was withdrawn following complaints about its graphic scenes of exploding climate change refuseniks.
The four-minute video was taken down from the 10:10 website and plans to distribute it to cinemas were ripped up after members of the public and key backers of the campaign, including the charity ActionAid, said they were “appalled” by its portrayal of zealous greenhouse gas activists using a red button to blow up reluctant supporters, such as the actress Gillian Anderson and former footballer David Ginola.