Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | May 23, 2023

'The Devils' Was Built To Stir Controversy

Today, hardly a day goes by where there is no controversy or public debate about whether or not 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 seems sometimes 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 or not 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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(Warner Bros.)

The Devils is a controversial and highly disturbing film that was banned in Finland until 2001 due to its graphic content and themes of sexual violence and blasphemy. The film, directed by Ken Russell, is based on the true story of Father Urbain Grandier, a 17th century French priest accused of witchcraft and heresy. The film is notable for its graphic depiction of sexual violence, torture, and religious imagery, and has been described as one of the most disturbing and controversial films ever made.

The film was banned in Finland due to concerns about its depiction of violence and sexual assault, as well as its perceived blasphemy and sacrilegious content. It was also criticized by some critics for its portrayal of women as victims and for its perceived glorification of violence. Despite these criticisms, the film has gained a cult following and has been widely analyzed by scholars and film critics as a commentary on religion, power, and sexuality. It is considered a classic of the British New Wave movement and has influenced a number of other films and filmmakers.

The ban on The Devils was finally lifted in 2001, and the film was released on DVD with an "18" rating, meaning it could only be sold to or viewed by adults.

'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.