Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | December 28, 2023

Mel Gibson's Breakout Role Never Made It to New Zealand

Today, hardly a day goes by where there is no controversy or public debate about whether various films or other programs have crossed a line of what is acceptable to depict on film. Such debates consume an enormous amount of the public's collective consciousness, and it sometimes seems that it's all we ever do. It is easy to forget, however, that such debates are as old as film itself.

Many films over the decades have been controversial for their depictions of various things. Excessive violence, sexual themes, and the use of questionable language in films have been magnets for public debate around their suitability to be shown and whether they degrade society through their being shown. This list is a journey back in time and an examination of some films from yesterday that fit that description.

Warning, this article features a collection of 60 photographs from films that have been banned in some countries. Viewer discretion is advised as some of these films may still be banned in certain locations.

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(American International Pictures)

The censors in New Zealand were a little too eager to put the brakes on Mad Max in 1979. Of course, this groundbreaking film has its fair share of graphic violence, but come on, it's a post-apocalyptic action movie set in a dystopian future. What did they expect? Rainbows and unicorns? The censors must not have been ready for the high-octane thrills and spills of the Road Warrior and his V8 interceptor. But fear not, New Zealanders, because the ban was eventually lifted and you can now enjoy the film's gritty action and over-the-top car chases to your heart's content.

'Apocalypse Now'? More Like Apocalypse Never In South Korea

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(United Artists)

Apocalypse Now was a film that was banned under the regime of South Korean President Park Chung-hee. The film's depiction of the Vietnam War and its themes of violence and corruption were seen as a threat to the government's efforts to maintain stability and order in the country. President Park Chung-hee was known for his strict censorship policies and was quick to ban any works that he saw as potentially disruptive or harmful to the status quo.

As a result, Apocalypse Now was never officially released in South Korea, and those who wanted to see it had to rely on underground channels or smuggled copies. Despite the ban, the film has gone on to become a classic of modern cinema, and its themes of war, insanity, and the human cost of conflict continue to resonate with audiences around the world.