Top 10 Movies That Had To Be Censored

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Top 10 Movies That Had To Be Censored

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Censors, telling people what they can and can't watch since… pretty much forever. For this list, we'll be looking at movies that governing bodies took offense to and attempted to change or outright ban. Our countdown includes “Logan”, “Rocketman”, “The Exorcist”, “Shrek 2”, and more!
Transcript
Script Written by Nick Spake

Top 10 Censored Movies


Censors, telling people what they can and can’t watch since… pretty much forever. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Censored Movies.

For this list, we’ll be looking at movies that governing bodies took offense to and attempted to change or outright ban.

#10: “Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker” (2019)

In terms of LGBTQ+ representation, Disney’s been taking baby steps. Even when the tiniest steps are taken, though, progress can feel like an uphill battle. In Malaysia, 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast” removed a quote-unquote “gay moment” that didn’t even involve a peck on the cheek. While the scene was edited, the country ultimately banned the film. Disney faced a similar hurdle with the final chapter of the “Skywalker Saga.” “The Rise of Skywalker” contains the franchise’s first same-sex kiss, which you’d need a keen set of eyes to actually spot. Nevertheless, the clip was cut in Singapore, where same-sex sexual acts are against the law, in order to maintain a PG-13 rating. Is this one of the reasons why FinnPoe never became canon?

#9: “Rocketman” (2019)

Disney is far from the only studio that’s been censored over LGBTQ+ characters. The lesbian story arc in “Booksmart” was heavily edited on Delta Airlines flights by a third-party censor. Delta’s in-flight showings of “Rocketman,” which centers on gay icon Elton John, also had its significant same-sex love scenes clipped. Following a backlash, Delta restored both movies with their LGBTQ+ identities intact. “Rocketman” continued to face censorship in Russia, however, where distributor Central Partnership cut every moment directly referencing homosexuality and drugs. Russian audiences thus missed roughly five minutes of footage from the original version. The biopic was also edited in Malaysia, while Samoa and Egypt banned it altogether. Egypt also banned John from performing at a private event in 2010, but he’s still standing.

#8: “Shrek 2” (2004)

“Shrek 2” might be a little edgier than your average kids flick, but how did it get banned in Israel? Believe it or not, this decision all boiled down to a single joke. The Hebrew version contains a neutering gag in which a character says, “Let’s do a David D’Or on him.” In case you didn’t know, David D’Or is an Israeli singer and he wasn’t pleased by this shot at his manhood. D’Or felt that the “Shrek” sequel turned him into a “laughing stock,” filing a suit and coming out victorious. It was ruled that the film couldn’t be shown in Israeli theaters until the scene was cut… no pun intended. Controversy aside, “Shrek 2” grossed just under a billion dollars worldwide regardless.

#7: “The Exorcist” (1973)

For almost two decades, “The Exorcist” reigned as the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever. Upon release, however, many felt that the film should’ve been rated X due to its graphic content, which remains quite shocking even by modern standards. Some places even tried exorcising the film from theaters. In the US, Boston prevented underaged viewers from attending screenings, even with adult supervision, and a theater chain faced legal action for screening the film in Mississippi. The film made it to London despite protests, although the home video version was made unavailable in the United Kingdom starting in 1988. The video ban wouldn’t be lifted until the late 90s, once again allowing UK viewers to experience William Friedkin’s horror masterpiece from the comfort of their flats.

#6: “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)

It may seem tame compared to what we see on the big screen and even the small screen today, but this classic drama was rather risque for 1951. Apparently too risque for the Hollywood Production Code and National Legion of Decency. In Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play, it’s revealed that Blanche’s late husband took his own life after being outed as a homosexual. For the film, this plot point had to be largely downplayed, requiring the viewer to read between the lines. Likewise, Stanley’s violent confrontation with Blanche toward the end is left slightly more ambiguous, whereas the play makes it much clearer what he does to her. Even with these cuts, the film still managed to explore many taboo subjects for the time.

#5: “Borat” (2006)

This controversial satire put the “mock” in mockumentary, practically egging on countries to outlaw it. While the film was a massive critical and commercial hit, it came as no shock when “Borat” got banned in virtually every Arab country. The film was given a pass in Lebanon where it performed surprisingly well. Although “Borat” wasn’t banned in Russia, its distribution in the country was met with disapproval. Given the current political climate, Hollywood likely wouldn’t take a chance on Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous portrayal of the Kazakh reporter today. Ironically, though, Kazakhstan has had a change of heart since the film’s release, seeing how it attracted more tourists to the country. The DVD even became a bestseller in the “Glorious Nation.” Isn’t that funny?

#4: “Logan” (2017)

Fox pulled no punches with “Logan,” finally giving fans the R-rated Wolverine movie they had been waiting for. Not everybody got to experience the full extent of the film’s violence, however. In China, it was released shortly after the Film Promotion Law was put into place, making this the country’s first film to come with a legally mandated age restriction. On top of that, China had fourteen minutes cut from “Logan” in order to tone down the bloodshed. In spite of the censorship, this adult-oriented “X-Men” film made $106 million in China, contributing significantly to its $619 million worldwide total. China was actually the second biggest market for the film, right behind the US. It takes more than a few cuts to take Wolverine down.

#3: “The Interview” (2014)

Honestly, this comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco likely would’ve been quickly forgotten if it hadn’t been for two things: the Eminem cameo and the overblown controversy surrounding North Korea. The satirical plot revolved around a mission to take out North Korean Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un. When North Korea vowed to pursue action if the film came out, Sony pushed back its release date and ordered edits to appease the country. In the midst of the outrage, Sony Pictures was infamously hacked by a group known as the Guardians of Peace in an effort to get “The Interview” pulled. Sony inevitably canceled the film’s wide theatrical release, although it was made available digitally and found its way into a few cineplexes around the world.

#2: “Psycho” (1960)

Alfred Hitchcock went to war with the censors over his groundbreaking 1960 thriller. “Psycho” was met with resistance regarding its portrayal of violence, sexuality, and - bizarrely enough - a toilet. Hitchcock came out on top in the long run, keeping a steamy moment in bed shared between an unmarried couple. “Psycho” even had the first toilet to be shown in a major US movie. For its worldwide release, Hitchcock did make a few compromises to get censors off his back. Britain notably requested that some sound effects and nude shots be cut from the iconic shower scene. Still, “Psycho” helped change the standards for censorship. Only eight years later, the Motion Picture Production Code would be phased out in favor of the MPAA rating system.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003)

“Skyfall” (2012)

“RoboCop” (1987)

“The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988)

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (1990)

#1: “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

Even nearly fifty years after its initial release, Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” remains one of the most disturbing films ever to make it past the censors. That said, Kubrick did have to trim about thirty seconds of footage to bring the film’s rating down from an X to an R in the US. The film was also temporarily banned in a few countries, including Ireland, North Korea, Singapore, and South Africa. Contrary to popular belief, “A Clockwork Orange” wasn’t technically banned in the UK, but Kubrick did ask Warner Bros. to withdraw the film from British markets when his family was put in jeopardy. The UK didn’t get to see this twisted work of genius again until 1999 when Kubrick passed away.
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