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  • Banned by Franco's government in Spain for blasphemous content, they also tried, unsuccessfully, to get it withdrawn from the Cannes Film Festival.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


  • By David Hollingsworth
    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.
  • 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...
    • By Edward H.
      June 25, 2015
      07:29 PM

      It was also banned by Mussolini's Italy for similar reasons, I believe.
  • By Mook
    January 14, 2014
    12:21 PM

    Amazing list, so interesting.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • By Something
    January 20, 2014
    11:00 PM

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

    "The Threepenny Opera" was banned by the Nazi's in 1933.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • By Danon Hennessey
    February 10, 2014
    05:36 PM

    Fun list!
  • 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?
  • By Theo
    March 14, 2014
    09:26 PM

    Virgin Spring? It technically wasn't banned, but it was re-cut and censored.
  • By Edward H.
    February 08, 2015
    08:08 PM

    Sweet Movie is still banned in the UK, due to to its sexual themes.
  • By Edward H.
    July 08, 2015
    07:39 PM

    Grand Illusion was banned in Nazi Germany & Mussolini's Italy.
  • By Edward H.
    October 07, 2015
    10:22 AM

    Apparently Modern Times was banned in Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy for being communist propaganda.
  • By Edward H.
    March 03, 2016
    05:46 AM

    Here's a recent update: Antichrist is now banned in France, after its 16 certificate was revoked by a court ruling.
  • By JMB
    August 17, 2016
    07:05 AM

    Lone Wolf and cud Contains Shogun Assassin, a section 3 video nasty. which Straw dogs technically is as well.
    • By JMB
      September 04, 2016
      09:09 AM

      I lied about Straw Dogs Being a section 3. it's not a the list at all.
  • By AsaNisMasa
    April 10, 2017
    09:03 PM

    The Exterminating Angel got Buñuel banned from Spain, if memory serves.
  • By Weasel
    June 22, 2017
    10:09 PM

    Very interesting!
  • By Re Artù
    September 01, 2017
    07:24 AM

    "Lion of the Desert", directed in 1981 by Moustapha Akkad and starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed and Rod Steiger, was banned in Italy since 1982 because it was reputed "offensive to the honour of the Italian Armed Forces". It was later shown only on pay TV in 2009, but never distributed in theaters.