10 Movies That Have Been Banned Around The World (And Where To Watch Them Legally)

While that doesn’t happen that often these days, there was a time when movies were banned outright and added to the list of “video baddies,” a collection of (usually horror) movies deemed too harmful to watch were viewed. These films often contained extreme violence, sexual content, or political themes. Each country has its own unique list of banned films, most of which were unbanned in later years as artistic expression in cinema became more popular. These “video villains” often turn out to be classic movies worth seeing.

A ban brings a sense of notoriety to a film, an element of danger that viewing can corrupt your innocent soul. Usually, the panic surrounding these films turns out to be overblown, and the rise of internet and film piracy has made securing banned films a trivial task.

Updated March 31, 2023 by Ty Weinert:

With South Park The show, which recently wrapped up its 26th season, has continued its run as one of the most controversial properties of all time. Taking no prisoners as it mocks everyone, this same approach to comedy led to the film adaptation becoming one of the most banned films in the world. While South Park Movie was banned for its offensive nature, others were banned for more bizarre reasons.

10 ‘Persepolis’ (2007)

Persepolis wears her Punk Is Not Ded jacket.

One of the most underrated animated films Persepolis tells the true story of its creator’s childhood during the Iranian Revolution and subsequent Iran-Iraq War. Its black-and-white visuals provide an effective contrast to the confrontational and very human story it tells.

While the film received critical acclaim abroad and was nominated for an Oscar, Persepolis proved controversial in Iran. The Iranian government condemned the film for dishonestly portraying the Islamic revolution, and the film was also banned in Lebanon, Variety reports. This ban was eventually lifted following complaints from political parties.

Rent on Apple TV+

9 ‘Zoolander’ (2001)

Zoolander in his famous pose

If you make the attempted assassination of the Malaysian Prime Minister a central plot point in your film, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if the film is banned there. One of the defining comedies of the early 2000s, Zoolander Stars Ben Stiller as a dimwitted supermodel being brainwashed into assassinating the world leader.

According to The Guardian, Zoolander was quickly banned in Malaysia, and the film was also banned in Singapore until 2006 to avoid angering the neighboring country. In fact, the film’s Asian release replaces any mention of Malaysia with the Micronesia sub-region, making it one of the many censored films to have varying versions around the world.

View on Paramount+

8th “The Simpsons Movie” (2007)

The citizens of Springfield watch in horror
Image via 20th Century Fox

That’s amusing. If The simpsons finally, in 2007, they released their first feature film, which was released in cinemas everywhere except Burma (now known as Myanmar). At the time of the film’s release, Burma was under threat from a rebel group whose flag was using the colors yellow and red. Feeling that public viewing of everyone’s favorite yellow-skinned family would lead to prejudice, the film was immediately banned as discussed on CBR.

The whole scenario ironically feels like something that could happen inside you Simpsons Episode and is one of the strangest reasons for a movie to be banned. The film itself plays like an extended episode and follows the family as they try to save Springfield from destruction at the hands of a government agency.

Watch on Disney+

7 “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (1974)

Leatherface swings his chainsaw around

Although it may seem tame by today’s standards, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was one of the most terrifying horror movies upon release and is one of the best slasher movies available to stream right now. After five friends run out of gas on a trip across Texas, they soon fall one by one to the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and his mad, cannibalistic family.

The film drew much controversy due to its violent content and was initially unclassified in Australia and the UK, as discussed on the British Board of Film Classification website. Further resubmissions passed with an R rating, while the film was also intermittently banned in Germany, Norway, Ireland, Singapore, Sweden and Iceland.

Watch Peacock

6 “South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut” (1999)

The boys from South Park are having fun at the cinema

Not surprising, South ParkJumping to the big screen has been banned in several countries. When an R-rated Terrance and Phillip movie escalates into an invasion of Canada, Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny must save the day in one of the best non-Disney animated musicals.

Never those who shy away from controversy Trey Parker And matt stone‘s film earned a Guinness World Record for Most Cursed in an Animated Film. This emphasis on profanity and the portrayal of Saddam Hussein as Satan’s gay lover drew the ire of numerous censorship boards, as the LA Times reports that Hussein himself banned the film in Iraq.

View on Paramount+

5 “The Da Vinci Code” (2006)

Tom Hanks gives a speech
Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

A hit at book clubs around the world, The da Vinci Code faced the same controversies as the novel it is based on. If two intellectuals (tom hanks And Audrey Tautou) become prime suspects in a murder, they stumble into a mystery involving the Catholic Church and a two thousand year old cover-up of Jesus Christ.

Not surprisingly, religious communities do not like it when their beliefs are questioned and protesters target the film. The Guardian reports that the film has been banned outright in countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Samoa and Sri Lanka for religious reasons The da Vinci Code be a work of blasphemy.

Watch on FuboTV

4 “Fifty Shades of Gray” (2015)

A couple staring into each other's eyes

Another controversial book adaptation that’s had moms everywhere nervous. fifty shades of gray follows the romance between college student Anastasia Steele and seedy businessman Christian Grey. The film launched the careers of Dakota Johnson And Jamie Dornan and is known as one of the mainstream erotic romance movies.

The film focused on sexual activity rather than PG-friendly romance and received some backlash. While the film ran uncensored in many countries, CNN reports that it has been banned in Indonesia, Kenya and Cambodia, among others. These countries complained about the film’s sexual content, claiming it bordered on pornography.

Watch Peacock

3 “A Clockwork Orange” (1971)

Three juvenile delinquents sit with glasses of milk
Image from Warner Bros.

One of Stanley KubrickThe most famous works of A Clockwork Orange also proved highly controversial. The film follows the exploits of teenage psychopath Alex (Malcolm McDowell), who is imprisoned for rape and murder. When he volunteers for an experimental rehabilitation program to shorten his sentence, his life begins to fall apart.

Due to its graphic content and scenes of sexual violence, the film was banned for decades in countries such as Ireland, Brazil, South Africa and Singapore. PBS reports that after Kubrick and his family received death threats over the film, he had the film withdrawn from UK cinemas and it was difficult to watch until after his death in 1999.

Watch on HBO Max

2 “Battleship Potemkin” (1925)

A group of sailors

A silent film from Soviet Russia, Battleship Potemkin, tells the true story of Russian sailors on board a battleship who rebel against their officers. Fed up with their commanders’ cruel treatment and spoiled food, the men risk their lives to ensure they are treated fairly and equally.

Released between the two world wars, Battleship Potemkin was despised by governments for its apparent anti-war message. Both France and the UK banned the film for fear that it would convey the same message to its citizens and possibly prompt soldiers to revolt like those portrayed in the film (according to the British Board of Film Classification website).

Watch on HBO Max

1 “The Last Temptation of Christ” (1988)

Last temptation of Christ

Any film that focuses on religion is bound to generate controversy, and The Last Temptation of Christ may claims to be the most banned film in the world. From the legendary director Martin Scorsesethe movie stars Willem Dafoe as Jesus Christ and follows his life and the many temptations he faces on his journey.

Throughout the film, Jesus struggles with feelings of lust and imagines engaging in sexual activity. Associating Jesus with sex drew hatred from several religious groups, and the film was banned in numerous countries, the LA Times reported. It remains banned in the Philippines and Singapore, where Netflix was recently forced to remove the film from its library due to government interference.

Watch on Prime Video

NEXT:Superhero movies banned in other countries

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Dustin Huang

Dustin Huang is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Dustin Huang joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: dustinhuang@24ssports.com.

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