It only made them more famous: four censored films

Armored cruiser Potemkin

Incendiary Bolshevik masterpiece

For the time being, the stairs in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa are still there. They are world famous for a famous montage sequence in Sergej Eisensteins Armored cruiser Potemkin (1925). It’s a classic film that caused quite a stir almost a hundred years ago. Many countries struggled with it. Why shouldn’t he be banned? After all, it was compelling Bolshevik propaganda. newspaper The Fatherland had an editorial on it at the time with the headline, “A Dangerous Movie?” But it was also great cinematic art, almost everyone agreed on that.

The crew of the battlecruiser Potemkin rebelled against their commanders and the poor working conditions on board. This mutiny soon spread to the port city of Odessa, but the uprising was crushed by Cossacks who ruthlessly fired at civilians on their way to the harbor via the steps: the much-analyzed and copied staircase scene.

Fearing the incendiary communist message, Armored cruiser Potemkin censored in many countries. For example, the bloodiest images from the most famous sequence were removed. The original version was reconstructed in 2005. Eduard Tissé’s photography still looks breathtaking – with a beautiful sequence in the misty harbor of Odessa. Hopefully the historic port city will remain intact and the Russians will not intervene as bloody as in 1905.

This is not a movie

The movie that was hidden in a cake

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has a film ban in his own country. Still went to be in Cannes in 2011 This is not a movie premiere. The film was smuggled out of Iran on a USB stick hidden in a cake. This is not a movie shows how the director awaits his trial in his apartment for ‘propaganda against the Iranian government’. He consults with his family and his lawyer, who brings a digital camera and proposes to document the whole process.

The idea of ​​a ‘metafilm’ about making a film was born out of necessity. But Panahi also used that stylistic device in previous films. In The mirror An apparently small-town road movie about a primary school girl who has to find her way home alone, becomes a reflection on the question ‘what is film’ through a clever film-within-film trick.

Of all living filmmakers, the Iranian director Jafar Panahi (1960) is probably the one who has not only dealt with censorship the most systematically, but also the best documented. He was even given a complete professional ban for 20 years. That didn’t stop him from continuing to make his films with modest means. And to win international prizes for it, including with Cabwho received a Golden Bear in Berlin in 2015.

In his work Panahi combines continuous reflection on film as a medium and art form with the surrealistic insights of René Magritte, who painted a pipe with the announcement that the image is not a pipe.

Can you ban a movie that says it’s not a movie, but just a representation of a movie? On the credits of This is not a movie after all, it says it is an ‘attempt’; no movie. Despite all the opposition that also makes him gloomy, Panahi remains a playful philosopher.

This is not a movie Photo Wide Management

Andrei Rublyov

Brezhnev left with doors slamming

If party leader Leonid Brezhnev stomps out of the cinema halfway through your movie, you have a problem as a Soviet filmmaker. Beforehand, Andrey Tarkovsky’s film seemed Andrei Rublyov, about the Russian monk and icon painter who lived from about 1360 to 1430, is not problematic. The Soviet Union celebrated his birthday in 1960. A ‘biopic’ would add luster to the 50th anniversary of the revolution in 1967.

But when Tarkovsky submitted a first draft in August 1966, culture officials found his film too long, too cruel, too gloomy, too mystical. unhistorical. Unpatriotic. At a one-off screening, audiences reacted in awe to the wanderings of a wavering artist who seeks sparks of transcendence in a hellish panorama of desperate villagers, marauding Tatars and corrupt princes. Such a god forsaken Russia had never been seen. And the party preferred to keep it that way.

Andrei Rublyov disappeared on the shelf, Venice and Cannes were always told that it was not yet finished. Until a bureaucrat blundered in 1969 and sold the film rights in France. Cannes showed Andrei Rublyov yet, but on the last day, when the big prizes had already been awarded. The film press reacted ecstatically: Tarkovsky’s epic won the press prize. In July, the Moscow Film Festival turned it so Brezhnev could stamp his feet.

The struggle was not over yet. State film company Goskino pressured the French rightholder to Andrei Rublyov to make it disappear. KGB agents started hunting for copies already distributed in French cinemas. But in the end harvested Andrei Rublyov so much acclaim that even the USSR showed it at the end of 1971. Tarkovsky noted in his diary that there was no movie poster in all of Moscow, but every cinema was sold out.

Andrei Rublyov Photo ANP


Censorship now revolves around money and reputation

The fuss about the Belgian drama girl in 2018 illustrated that a kind of ‘film censorship’ still exists in Western societies. But that it may take different forms these days. It’s no longer just about what government officials think is or isn’t appropriate for the public, but about commercial considerations and the objections of wide-ranging figures.

girl follows 15-year-old ballerina Lara, who was born in a boy’s body. The adolescent largely grows up in an environment that supports her gender transition. The drama mainly lies in Lara’s own struggle with how long her transition takes and the intense way she torments her body to be “more feminine.” This leads to a gruesome final scene.

The film was acclaimed after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Netflix rushed to get the distribution rights for the US. But in the months after Cannes, criticism began to be heard. Main comment was that director Lukas Dhont and his lead actor are not transgender themselves and the film focuses very much on Lara’s physical suffering. That was considered cliché and by a columnist of the trade magazine variety even called “dangerous.”

Netflix feared even more controversies and asked Dhont to re-edit some nude scenes. The fear was that someone might label it as child pornography. With a view to an American theatrical release, needed for an Oscar nomination, a scene where Lara orally satisfied a boy next door also had to be adapted.

In the end, the director and Netflix came to a different compromise. A warning was placed at the beginning of the US version for the explicit scenes. Reference is also made to a site that offers help to LGBTQI youth with suicidal thoughts. In US cinemas, the film was rated R, requiring anyone under 17 to be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

girl Photo Kris Dewitte

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