Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | August 2, 2023

Ben-Hur Was Banned In China For Being Too Western

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 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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(Loew's, Inc.)

Ben-Hur is a 1959 American epic historical drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Charlton Heston as the title character. The film was a commercial and critical success and won a record 11 Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Charlton Heston.

In spite of the film's stranglehold over the 32nd Academy Awards, Chairman Mao Zedong banned the film in China for containing "propaganda of superstitious beliefs, namely Christianity". It's unclear if the film ever received a wide release in China.

'Glen or Glenda' Was Outright Rejected By The BBFC

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(Screen Classics)

Glen or Glenda is a film written and directed by independent schlockmeister Ed Wood that was released in 1953. The film tells the story of a man named Glen who struggles with his gender identity and desires to live as a woman. Upon its release, Glen or Glenda was refused theatrical distribution in England due to its controversial subject matter and the perceived disturbing nature of its content.

Many people at the time were not comfortable with or understanding of issues related to gender identity, and the film was seen as offensive and inappropriate. Despite its initial rejection, Glen or Glenda has since gained a cult following and is now seen as a significant work in the transgender rights movement. It is considered an important representation of transgender experiences and a pioneering exploration of gender identity issues in film.