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Banned! Criterion's Forbidden Films

by John Hunter Duesing

Created 11/03/13

Edit List

A list of movies in the Criterion collection that have been banned by governments around the world.

Am I forgetting any? Let me know in the comments.

  • Banned in Nazi Germany, you can probably guess why.

  • Banned in the UK for its depiction of vivisection, as the British government forbade the depiction of cruelty to animals in movies. It was released after cuts were made in 1958.

  • Banned in France until 1947. Despite being a film made in France with a French director, the production company that made the film was German, and the film was seen has negatively portraying the French people, and it was thus accused of Nazi/Vichy sympathies. Henri-Georges Clouzot was also not allowed to make films anymore, until the ban was lifted in 1947.

  • Banned in Ireland for having a permissive attitude towards adultery.

  • Banned in Japan by the U.S. occupying government, which was sensitive towards films with overtly Japanese themes, specifically the "feudal values" in this film. It was finally released in 1952.

  • Banned in Finland for showing how safecracking works. The Finnish government feared that the film would lead to an epidemic of dashing French thieves in Helsinki. A re-cut version was allowed in 1959.

  • Banned in Franco's Spain for having "anti-military" themes.

  • Initially banned in Italy for its sexual attitudes, the ban was quickly lifted following protests.

  • Banned in Finland until 1981.

  • Banned by Franco's government in Spain for blasphemous content, they also tried, unsuccessfully, to get it withdrawn from the Cannes Film Festival. The Vatican also denounced the film for the same reasons.

  • Banned in the Soviet Union for having religious themes.

  • Banned in France for five years, as the Algerian War was a sore subject.

  • Banned in the United States for being "pornographic." Censors later conceded that the sex scenes were "tastefully done."

  • Banned in Yugoslavia for 16 years due to its graphic sexual content. The film also caused Makavejev to be exiled from the country, unable to return until 1988.

  • Banned in the UK when the Video Recordings Act of 1984 went into effect. Also known as the "Video Nasties," the Video Records Act resulted in a number of movies being banned for violent content, and in the case of Straw Dogs, the offending scene was the rape of Susan George's character. It was released uncut in 2002.

  • Banned in the U.K., it was on the infamous "Video Nasties" list.

  • Censored in Japan for its graphic sex scenes, and was initially banned in the U.S. and parts of Canada.

  • Banned as "child pornography" in Ontario, Canada, as well as Oklahoma County in the U.S.

  • Banned for blasphemous content in Ireland, Norway, and parts of the UK and Germany.

  • This one wasn't banned, it was suppressed by the studio because they were worried the film would come off as racist. It wasn't seen until ten years later at international screenings.

  • One of the most infamous titles on this list, "Salo" reached "Cannibal Holocaust" levels of banning across the globe, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and even got some video store owners in Ohio arrested for "pandering."

  • One of the big poppas of cinema controversy, this one was banned in Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Savannah, GA in the United States for a period. It is banned in the Philippines and Singapore to this day.

  • Banned in Ontario for its depiction of teenage sexuality. The ban was lifted in 2003.

22 comments

  • By Collection
    December 13, 2013
    08:21 PM

    Great concept for a list. To my knowledge, The Ruling Class would have been banned in the country of Chile under its military regime. I'll defer to you as to disclosing any reason(s) why.
    Reply
  • By Peter_Wilson
    January 10, 2014
    04:35 PM

    Great list! "The Rules of the Game" was banned in France. BTW I've made a new list, Your Favorite Criterion Edition, which I'm trying to compile members single favorite criterion edition along with there comment of the film. Please participate if you find the time.
    Reply
  • By oz-rob
    January 10, 2014
    06:14 PM

    DESIGN FOR LIVING,1933 was passed by the Hay`s Office but later banned by the Legion of Decency refusing it a release certificate in 1934 because of the sexual discussions & Innuendos.also from Lubitsch TROUBLE IN PARADISE,1932 suffered the same fate refused release after 1935 due to the strict production code rules. It was not seen again until 1968!. .....PS,Great List Subject!
    Reply
    • By oz-rob
      January 10, 2014
      09:33 PM

      forgot to mention IVAN THE TERRIBLE PART 2, 1946..Stalin did not like the depiction of state terrorism being shown in an ambivalent way he banned it from release and it was not seen until 1958.
  • By Sidney
    January 10, 2014
    09:21 PM

    Wonderful idea for a list! I have to make a movie night to see these some of these films.
    Reply
  • By oz-rob
    January 11, 2014
    04:24 PM

    LA GRANDE ILLUSION, 1937 is a humanistic film critical of the futility of war.It was considered by Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels " Cinematic Public Enemy #1, he confiscated & destroyed prints, when the Germans marched into France in 1940 they also seized prints & negatives. The French also banned the film during the war years fearing it would affect morale...
    Reply
  • By DiploBoy
    January 12, 2014
    04:20 PM

    Hi, Great list, and it's worth mentionning that, although Paths of Glory was not technically banned in France, the movie wasn't showed there until the mid 70s...
    Reply
  • By Mylomook
    January 14, 2014
    12:21 PM

    Amazing list, so interesting.
    Reply
    • By obscuredbyclouds
      February 12, 2014
      02:51 PM

      I agree. I find it funny that Andrei Rublev was banned not for the violence or animal abuse...but for religious themes. (?)
  • By Shelly
    January 15, 2014
    12:55 AM

    'Daisies' (1966) was banned in Czechoslovakia for "depicting the wanton". 'A Report on the Party and Guests' (1966) was also banned.
    Reply
  • By Brian Susbielles
    January 17, 2014
    10:47 PM

    Missing (1982) was banned in Chile for the obvious reasoning of the negative depiction of the post-coup killings they were responsible for. I believe Z (1969) was banned in Greece for similar reasons - both directed by Costas Gravas.
    Reply
  • By Something
    January 20, 2014
    11:00 PM

    M was banned in Nazi Germany in 1934. Just sayin
    Reply
  • By Peter_Wilson
    January 21, 2014
    10:17 AM

    "The Threepenny Opera" was banned by the Nazi's in 1933.
    Reply
  • By Emma
    January 22, 2014
    02:44 AM

    Inspired list! Just wanted to mention that, according to that font of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Salo is still banned in Malaysia (for "repulsive, outrageous and abhorrent content"), Singapore (due to its "extreme content that may cause controversy in Singapore"), Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Vietnam.
    Reply
  • By MG
    January 29, 2014
    12:20 PM

    Nice list. It would be worthwhile to mention that A Clockwork Orange was banned in the UK by no other than Stanley Kubrick himself.
    Reply
  • By Andrew M.
    February 01, 2014
    05:10 PM

    I'm glad to see someone listed A Clockwork Orange. The banning of the movie in the UK also led the book, which was not very well known before the movie, to be banned here and there throughout the US.
    Reply
  • By Barry Moore
    February 04, 2014
    08:33 PM

    Miloš Forman's 1967 feature 'Hoří, má panenko' ('The Firemen's Ball'), his first in color, was another of the casualties of the post-Dubček government in Czechoslovakia, being "banned forever" there with so many other innovative films of its era, as poster Shelly cites above. The former Soviet Union has a gloomy history of suppression of many distinctive films, including Aleksandr Askoldov's sole feature to date, 'Komissar' ('The Commissar'), which was shot in 1967 but not released until 1988, in the wake of glasnost. For Poland, one can cite the suppression of Jerzy Skolimowski's original 1967 edit of 'Ręce do góry' ('Hands Up!'), which was only released in much-modified form in 1981.
    Reply
  • By Danon Hennessey
    February 10, 2014
    05:36 PM

    Fun list!
    Reply
  • By obscuredbyclouds
    February 12, 2014
    02:49 PM

    To this day I will never understand the stupidity of thinking "White Dog" was racist. How does that even make sense?
    Reply
    • By Barry Moore
      February 14, 2014
      07:53 PM

      I wonder if the fear resided in the complex,conflicted feelings the viewer might bear towards the character of the abused, vicious dog. The very fact that the dog attacks black people might have been enough to have caused some executives to worry about viewers' perceptions, despite the clear explanation the film provides for the dog's motives. Anyone who has seen the film should recognize that it attacks racism rather than promoting it in any way.
  • By herve
    February 22, 2014
    11:33 AM

    Paths of Glory banned in France during 20 years!
    Reply
  • By Theo
    March 14, 2014
    09:26 PM

    Virgin Spring? It technically wasn't banned, but it was re-cut and censored.
    Reply