Top 10: Of the Most Controversial Films

Everybody enjoys watching a good movie – I know I do. One of the things I love the most is to curl up in in the sofa and watch a good flick. Of course, I have my favorite genre as does everybody else.

There is so much choice out there when it comes to movies. Movie making has been taken to a whole different level for years now. There are genres to everybody likings. However, one can agree that not all the movies that come out tickle everyone’s fancy. Some of them, I dare to say are outright controversial and more than revenue give the film makers headaches.

In this top, I will focus on the 10 movies that some people considered to ban from the screen.

Sit back and get ready to get delightfully offended with these all-time shockers:


10. Poison (1991)

Todd Haynes’s groundbreaking indie—a highly stylized and sexually explicit triptych based on the writings of Jean Genet—heralded the arrival of New Queer Cinema and drew the ruthless attentions of family-values pundits after it won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The chief antagonist was Reverend Donald Wildmon, who called for the firing of the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, which had given Haynes a $25,000 grant. Several other naysayers followed suit: “I’ve seen more artistically meritorious productions on America’s Funniest Home Videos,” said Baptist Church spokesman Jim Smith.

9. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Audiences were used to living vicariously through tommy-gun-wielding gangsters breaking the law with panache. What they weren’t prepared for was seeing the bloody aftermath of their antiheroes’ activities rendered in living color. This film’s use of startlingly realistic violence—oddly coupled with jaunty banjos and jokey moments—caused a furor among those who thought it made murder seem sexy and frivolous. Bosley Crowther ofThe New York Times complained that the movie’s “brutal killings [were] pointless and lacking in taste.”

8. Last Tango in Paris (1972)

“Go get the butter,” says Marlon Brando purposefully, in a movie that premiered at the prestigious New York Film Festival. Cognoscenti were then treated to a lengthy scene of anal sex that many hailed as psychologically expressive, others as smut parading as art. The tumult only spread from there: Curious theatergoers were yelled at by protesters, while the doomy romance met with outright banning in Chile, Spain and even director Bernardo Bertolucci’s native Italy, where his civil rights were revoked for five years. Fortunately, critical praise saved the day, with The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael going out on a limb in the most famous review of her career: “This is a movie people will be arguing about, I think, for as long as there are movies,” she wrote. Her invitation still stands.

7. Viridiana (1961)

Luis Buñuel loses another assault on all that’s holy. The Spanish provocateur’s masterful tale of the eponymous young nun, whose faith is sorely tested during a visit to her uncle’s estate, was the bane of several gatekeepers. Dictator Francisco Franco unsuccessfully attempted to have the film withdrawn from circulation after it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes (in the end, he just banned it at home). And the Vatican made its displeasure known in its official newspaper, describing the movie as blasphemous. (A scene in which a bunch of rabble-rousing vagrants reenact The Last Supper probably had something to do with that.)

6. Freaks (1932)

To fully understand the traumatizing power of this Hollywood shocker, one first must to imagine a director on the power level of today’s James Cameron. That’s basically what Tod Browning was in 1931, after making Dracula a global box-office phenomenon. The time had finally arrived for Browning to advance his long-gestating personal project, about unloved carnival people whose code is broken by an insider. To MGM’s horror, Browning insisted on using real circus performers with deformities. Infamously, a test screening induced one woman’s miscarriage (and the threat of a lawsuit); several scenes involving violent revenge were excised. A 64-minute version made it to theaters but was quickly dimmed after horrified public reaction. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Freaks found a sympathetic audience in the counterculture. By then, Browning’s career was long ruined.


5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The faux-literary tag line for Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess’s novel pretty much says it all “Being the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are rape, ultra-violence and Beethoven.” Let’s just say it wasn’t the Beethoven that had half of Britain calling for Kubrick’s head. Even, Kubrik himself gave in to the controversial character of this movie and forbid its screening in England, where it remained publicly unseen for decades.

4. The Birth of a Nation (1915)

In one fell swoop, D.W. Griffith’s Civil War epic gave the filmmaking world the basic grammar of modern cinema. But the same game-changing gesture also distorted history, recast reprehensibly racist attitudes as heroic and helped revitalize the Ku Klux Klan into the most powerful hatemongering organization of its day. The movie originated riots in major cities.

3. Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

This movie was banned from England and Australia and it was the main influence of provocateurs such as Mike Haneke and Lars Von Trier. Based on the writings of the Marquis of Sade, this movie mainly focused on torture and sexual decadence.

2. Triumph of the Will (1934)

Until her dying day, director Leni Riefenstahl claimed she was not a Nazi; she merely made the single most famous piece of propaganda about them ever conceived. The fact that Riefenstahl’s magnum opus captures Hitler in full fascistic bloom at the 1934 Nuremberg Rally is enough to qualify her content as repugnant. (Screenings are still forbidden in Germany) and this movie generated worldwide uprises of deep repugnance.

1. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

This is movie is on the first position of our top due to the sheer furor that inspired worldwide. The Vatican, many Catholics and more fundamentalist groups were outraged and voiced out loud their disliking. Needless to say, that this movie was banned from many countries unseen.