Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | December 8, 2023

'Maniac' Has an Odd Relationship with British Censors

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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(Analysis Film Releasing Corporation)

Ah, Maniac, what a film. This film is definitely not for the faint of heart. In fact, it was so gory and disturbing that it was banned twice in England, first in 1981 for its theatrical run, and again in 1998 for a home video release. The film follows a serial killer as he stalks and murders young women in New York City, and it's filled with graphic violence, sexual assault, and all sorts of other disturbing content. It's not exactly the kind of movie you'd want to watch on a cozy night in, hence the ban.

Ben-Hur Was Banned in China for Being Too Western

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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.