Banned Movies That Upset Sensitive Audiences

By Sophia Maddox | May 30, 2023

The Tin Drum Was Banned In The US For...Everything

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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(United Artists)

The Tin Drum is a 1979 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Günter Grass. The film was directed by Volker Schlöndorff and starred David Bennent as Oskar, the main character.

The film was banned in Canada and the United States (specifically Oklahoma) due to its controversial subject matter, which includes sexual abuse and the Nazi Party's rise to power in Germany. The film was also criticized for its depiction of Oskar, the main character, who is a young boy who decides to stop growing physically and emotionally after witnessing the death of his father and the rise of the Nazis. Oskar's decision to stop growing is portrayed as a form of protest against the atrocities being committed around him.

Despite the controversy, The Tin Drum was critically praised for its powerful performances, especially by Bennent as Oskar, and for its surreal and allegorical style. The film won the 1979 Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

'The Devils' Was Built To Stir Controversy

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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.