Famous Films That Were Banned Around The World

By | February 14, 2023

'Titicut Follies' Exposed The Horrific Conditions In Mental Hospitals... and Was Condemned For Doing So

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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(Grove Press)

Titicut Follies, a 1967 American documentary film directed by Frederick Wiseman, was banned in the United States before its debut due to its graphic depiction of conditions at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Massachusetts. The film, which was filmed in black and white, shows the harsh and often inhumane treatment of patients at the hospital, and includes scenes of forced medication, restraints, and abuse.

The film was banned in the U.S. on the grounds that it violated the privacy of the patients depicted in the film and that its release could potentially cause harm to the reputation of the hospital and the state of Massachusetts. The ban on the film was eventually lifted in 1991, after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the film's educational value outweighed any potential harm caused by its release.

Today, Titicut Follies is widely regarded as a landmark documentary film and an important work of social commentary. Its unflinching portrayal of the realities of life in a psychiatric institution has had a lasting impact on the way that such institutions are viewed and has contributed to reforms in the treatment of mental illness.

No Art Film Shocked Audiences Like 'Flaming Creatures' banned in 22 U.S. States and Four Countries


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(Jack Smith)

Flaming Creatures is a 1963 experimental film directed by Jack Smith. The film is a satire of Hollywood B movies and features a cast of unconventional and marginalized actors, many of whom were members of the LGBTQ+ community. The film is known for its use of nonlinear storytelling, its surrealist and campy style, and its depiction of gender and sexual fluidity.

Flaming Creatures was released in 1963 and was immediately met with controversy due to its depiction of sexual and gender nonconformity and its use of explicit language and imagery. The film was banned in 22 states in the United States and in several other countries, including Canada, Sweden, and Finland, due to its controversial content.

Despite the controversy, Flaming Creatures has been widely regarded as an important and influential work within the underground and avant-garde film scenes. It has been credited with pioneering the use of camp and satire in underground cinema and with challenging traditional notions of gender and sexuality. The film has been re-released in recent years and is available for viewing at select film festivals and institutions.