Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | February 2, 2024

Sam Peckinpah's 'Straw Dogs' Turned Audiences Off With Its Intense Sexuality and Violence

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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(Cinerama Releasing Corporation)

Straw Dogs is a controversial and violent film that was banned in the UK from the 1980s to 2002. The film, directed by Sam Peckinpah, is about a young American couple who move to a small village in England, where they become the targets of hostility and violence from the local residents. The film is notable for its graphic violence, particularly a rape scene that was considered particularly disturbing at the time of its release.

The film was banned by various councils in the UK due to concerns about its depiction of violence and sexual assault. It was also criticized by some critics for its perceived glorification of violence and its portrayal of women as victims. Despite these criticisms, the film has gained a cult following and has been widely analyzed by scholars and film critics as a commentary on violence, masculinity, and the human condition. It is considered a classic of the "revisionist Western" genre and has influenced a number of other films and filmmakers.

In 2002, the ban on Straw Dogs was lifted, and the film was released on DVD in the UK. However, it was still rated as an "18" (meaning it could only be sold to or viewed by adults) due to its graphic content. The film remains controversial and is still widely debated for its themes and depiction of violence.

'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.