Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | September 20, 2023

'A Clockwork Orange' Was Pulled From Theaters In The UK By Its Director, Stanley Kubrick

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.

test article image
source: Warner Bros.

A Clockwork Orange, a film directed by Stanley Kubrick and released in 1971, was pulled from theaters by Kubrick himself shortly after its release due to the controversy and criticism it received. The film, based on a novel by Anthony Burgess, tells the story of a young man named Alex who enjoys committing acts of violence and "ultra-violence" before undergoing an experimental treatment to "cure" him of his violent tendencies. 

The film's depiction of graphic violence and sexual assault sparked outrage and condemnation from audiences and critics, leading Kubrick to withdraw it from circulation in the UK. Despite the controversy surrounding it, A Clockwork Orange has since gained a cult following and is now considered a classic of cinema. 

Its place in history as a banned film in South Korea as well as some provinces in Canada adds to its reputation as a provocative and controversial work, and the film's exploration of themes of free will, morality, and the consequences of violence make it a timeless and thought-provoking work that continues to challenge modern audiences.

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

test article image
(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.