Movies Banned Across The World

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I have always been interested in film censorship. I wrote my university dissertation on the Video Nasties of the 1980’s and am fascinated by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) website which I peruse frequently. I think it is a case of being interested in what is deemed suitable or not and why this is the case. Whether its sex, violence or bad language, how do we know what people can tolerate and put an age restriction on it or even ban it completely. Obviously this is different according to the censors, context and even the circumstances in a particular country.

Therefore, I decided to look at what films are deemed to be unsuitable all over the world, especially the movies that we would think to be mostly innocuous. No amount of cuts by the censor could prevent it from being banned in a certain country. I’m bypassing the movies that would be banned for obvious reasons, mostly those of sexual violence (Cannibal Holocaust, A Serbian Movie, I Spit on Your Grave, etc) so I decided to share with you all some that you probably wouldn’t expect to see in the restricted zone.

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Schindler’s List – Spielberg’s Oscar winning masterpiece of modern cinema is a very hard watch due to its subject matter and intense visuals. However, it is probably one of the most important films of all time. This isn’t seen to be the case in Indonesia where censors banned it in 1994, some cite that it is due to the film being sympathetic to the Jewish cause and there is no place for it in a heavily Muslim populated region. The National Censorship Board insist however it is due to too much nudity and violence.

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Brief EncounterBrief Encounter is, by today’s standards, massively innocuous in its treatment of an emotional love affair between two married people who meet at a train station. There’s no sex scene or heavy petting, it’s all implied within the dialogue. However, this is still too much in Ireland where the film is still banned because the movie is too “permissive of adultery”. This is a big surprise, especially if you’ve seen the movie, which is rated PG in England, but they seem to be sticking to their guns as the ban doesn’t seem to be lifting any time soon despite all the highly sexed films we see today.

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Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan: Probably not too surprising, the ban has still not been lifted in Kazakhstan (as well as Russia) where it was deemed offensive. This would be in part to the opening and closing scenes that portrayed the locals as poor and stupid or rapists. Countries all over the world have been portrayed with negative and unflattering stereotypes but this was just deemed too far from Sasha Baron Cohen. Kazakhstan, however have since thanked Borat for the boost to their economy from tourism as a result of the movie’s success.

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Zoolander: Another set of locals to get offended by western comedy was that of the Malaysian government who didn’t see the funny side of the movie’s plot to assassinate the Malaysian Prime Minister. I don’t think they were too impressed with the depiction of the sweat shops visited by Derek Zoolander either. The country has form in this area who have also banned Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

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The Wolf of Wall Street: Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning portrayal of the life of Jordan Belfort pushes all the boundaries, but looked like it pushed a few too many in Kenya where the Classification Board banned the movie citing “extreme scenes of nudity, sex, debauchery, hedonism and cursing” as the main reasons. It is against the law to watch the film within the boundaries of the country and arrests were made last year when pirate copies started to circulate which could have resulted in a couple of years in prison.

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2012: Roland Emmerich’s film was not banned for being an average disaster movie but for showing the apocalypse happening in the year 2012. Although the Mayans had this in their calendar as the end of humanity for a very long time the North Koreans had a different way of thinking. Because it was the hundredth year anniversary of the birth of ‘The Great Leader’ Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il declared it was the year that North Korea was to “open the grand gates to becoming a rising superpower”. Therefore watching a film about the world’s destruction would be highly inappropriate and anyone caught watching the film was to be prosecuted. Not really worth it in my opinion, they should watch The Road instead.

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The Simpsons Movie: Whether this one is genuine or not is a mystery as there isn’t enough written on the matter but apparently The Simpsons Movie and its TV show counterpart are both banned in Burma because the censors in the country don’t allow the colours yellow and red combined on screen. Baffling.

In Britain in America there are not that many films that don’t get past the censor these days, the only ones lately to have come up against some trouble here lately are The Human Centipede 2 and A Serbian Film, both of which required cuts. Every Classification Board knows the context of the society in which they live so they should be the best positioned to make these decisions but sometimes those decisions may be deemed questionable.

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Is 2012 going to be the best summer for movies in a decade?

 

Reading articles in magazines and websites about the highly awaited films coming this summer has filled me with a lot of excitement and impatient enthusiasm. It looks like one of the most monumental years for cinema in a long time, and seeing as the summer season in terms of film starts in about April and ends in September, it seems the ideal time to have a look at this year’s offerings. With The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hunger Games, I cannot think of a trio of more hotly anticipated blockbusters in the last decade. And, they are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it was not since the summer of 2002 I feel that audiences have been treated to so much in one season.

Back in ’02 you have the best of the big blockbuster fare with Spiderman, Attack of the Clones, and Minority Report, which to a 12 year old boy, could just have been about the greatest triumvirate of films one could possibly imagine. Then you had a very strong contribution from Pixar with Monsters Inc when we started seeing how consistently brilliant these computer generated films were going to be.

The movies just kept coming with Signs from M Night Shyamalan at the height of his career and while his twists were still bold and unexpected. The sequels such as Austin Powers and Goldmember and Men in Black II also did the job. Then you have the lesser known films that took the cinema by storm such as My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding which kept refusing to get off the box office top ten list and One Hour Photo, a chilling, psychological thriller with Robin Williams which still haunts me to this day. It was a magnificent year, let alone summer for film. Although, the less said about The Adventures of Pluto Nash, the better.

Since then the summer offerings on the whole have been hit and miss. Sure, we have had fantastic offering in an individual sense, with Inception, Ratatouille and the Harry Potter franchise migrating from the winter to summer but there has not been a summer of cinema in terms of its consistently since 2002.

Now again we have the variety needed throughout the summer. Not just the big money blockbusters such as Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers but the non franchise films such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Jeff Lives at Home which could turn into big hits. The latter especially considering there always seems to be some huge breakout comedies during the summer in recent years such as The Inbetweeners Movie and The Hangover.

As always a couple of sequels are thrown into the mix for good measure in Wrath of the Titans, American Pie: The Reunion and Men in Black III. There is the chance to see if The Amazing Spiderman reboot will wow us as the original did a decade ago and Ridley Scott returning to Alien territory with his prequel to the saga Prometheus.

Pixar’s offering Brave looks strong, and since the company seems to have been improving with age and continuing innovating it’s going to up there with the big hitters too. There is also the newfound enterprise of re-releasing classics in 3D with Titanic leading the way this year.

In terms of a summer of film this looks as strong and diverse as ever and although there are a few that might raise some eyebrows and fail at the box office such as a remake of Total Recall, another addition to the seemingly unending Ice Age franchise, StreetDance 2 and a sequel to G.I Joe, which although the original grossed $25 million under its budget has still been given the green light. Despite this, we could be pleasantly surprised.

However, none of these films have been seen yet and it is all just buzz, which we know from The Phantom Menace in ’99 can be a whole lot of hot air. With the Olympics and the European Championships dominating the television listing some of the films may not receive the acknowledgement and the box office numbers they deserve. Whatever the case, a large amount of the excitement comes from the anticipation, which is in no short supply this summer. And even if it is hugely disappointing, at least we have Skyfall to look forward to in October.

The Alternative Oscars

The awards season is now in full flow with the ultimate finale, The Oscars, bringing everything to a crescendo on Sunday night. The ceremony will pitch all of the major academy award players against each other with The Artist still the favourite. Some films, however, may be deemed too mainstream by the academy, who are sometimes quite set in their ways about what constitutes an award winning performance or movie and so my compilation of awards seek to remedy those overlooked. So please join me as I filter through the dross that the last year has delivered and celebrate those great performances and films:

Best Film: Because of the types of films that the Academy usually picks when deliberating for best film we are always presented with some of the same old rather formulaic dramas such as The Ides of March and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close whereas many innovative, interesting movies are ignored. It is also very rare for a documentary to find its way into this category. That is why my award for best film goes to the moving, innovative Senna. A documentary has a much richer and emotive story than so much fiction that has found its way onto the big screen. The set up, unfolding of the narrative and execution are flawless and captivating and it is a crime that it has not been more seriously considered in this awards season.

Best Actor: In this race the Oscar is looking to either go to Jean Dujardin for his role as silent movie star George Valentin in The Artist or George Clooney’s powerful performance in The Descendents. I have decided to award my best actor to, no not Adam Sandler for his powerhouse performance in Jack and Jill, but Gary Oldman for his role in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. He is nominated for an Oscar, therefore has received some recognition for his portrayal of George Smiley, however, he seems very unlikely to win and should be honoured for such a strong performance.

Best Actress: Meryl Streep and Olivia Coleman have been dominating the main and independent awards with performances in The Iron Lady and Tyrannosaur respectively. Someone who has been slightly overlooked in the Oscar’s, although she did get a nod in the Golden Globes, is Kristen Wiig for her role in Bridesmaids. Also co-writing it, Wiig really shows her comedy acting chops and it pays off. A truly hilarious performance.

Best Supporting Actor: Although you don’t even see his face on screen throughout the entirety of the film my choice for best supporting actor is Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Not only does he bring a strong performance through a range of emotions to Caeser the ape, he completely acts James Franco off the screen despite being a motion captured creation. It is a huge achievement for an actor to act through the computer generation to deliver a heartfelt performance of that magnitude, allowing for the apes to have entire lengths of film dedicated to themselves without it being made to look contrived or silly. The Academy has still not come round to the idea of awarding the prize to actors using motion capture, but they may have missed a trick in not nominating Serkis.

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer looks almost a certainty with her role in The Help. Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain are both also increasingly on the rise and could have nabbed it. However, my choice goes to British actress Jodie Whittaker in Attack the Block, a truly great achievement of a film in which Whittaker is the anchor amidst the anarchy. Not only was she fantastic in this but also in Perrier’s Bounty in back in 2009 and more recently in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror episode ‘The Entire History of You’. We can expect big things from her in the future.

Best Director: A tough category to decide upon because of the sheer amount of heavyweights who have directed this year. However, my decision is for debut filmmaker Richard Ayoade and his work on the wonderful Submarine.  Although the film was released in 2010 it did not appear in mainstream cinemas until March 2011 thereby making it eligible in my eyes. I’m sure it won’t be too long before Ayoade is in the running for more awards in the future.

Best Original Screenplay: You could scour Hollywood all day long and you will never find a script as pitch perfect, funny and more true to life as The Inbetweeners Movie. The dialogue is as sharp and erudite as the series with a story that grips despite the fact that it really shouldn’t with the fail record of so many TV show transitions before it. There aren’t many other scripts that can boast so many quotable and genuinely thoughtful lines while combining with thoughtful and evocative moments.

Best Adapted Screenplay: This award is more an achievement award as opposed to anything and it goes to Steve Kloves and his work on the Harry Potter series that finally came to an end last year with the second instalment of The Deathly Hallows. To adapt a book that is so well loved and add a different dimension to make it suitable for the big screen is a huge achievement and Kloves has managed this, arguably improving with every film. His contribution has been a big factor in the success in the franchise and I believe he deserves some recognition.

So there’s my alternative Oscars. I have only touched upon the major acting and film categories as opposed to the technical as the movies excelling in these are nominated already and are most likely to win. Nothing could really beat the score for The Artist or Hugo for sound design, could it? I’ll be very much looking forward to finding out on Sunday night.