Famous Films That Were Banned Around The World

By | February 20, 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.

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

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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.