Weird Reasons Why American Films Are Censored Abroad

Weird Reasons Why American Films Are Censored Abroad

Cinema is a universal language, but sometimes the content of a film may be acceptable in some cultures but not in others. American movies are imported around the world, but not without tweaks: here are the weirdest reasons why Hollywood movies have fallen out of favor with censors abroad…

Back to the future (1985)

Censored country: China

Back to the Future - Credit: Universal

Back to the Future – Credit: Universal

Chinese censors had nothing against Robert Zemeckis’ time-thriller in particular – it turns out they have a problem with time travel in general. Any films that feature time travel are heavily censored or banned because they are deemed to undermine a much more serious issue: the story itself.

“Producers and screenwriters are treating the serious story in a frivolous way, which should no longer be encouraged,” said China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. Marty McFly, you troublemaker! Stop trying to erase history!

The Simpsons Movie (2007)

Country censored: Burma

The second Simpsons movie could be on the way - Credit: Fox

The Simpsons Movie 2… Could Be On The Way – Credit: Fox

The Incredibly Bizarre Reason You Couldn’t See The Simpsons Movie in a Burmese cinema in 2007? The colors were very vibrant. The country’s Film and Video Censorship Board issues the extremely strange ordinance that banned any film with prominent uses of red and yellow. Because? Who knows?

Is it possible to release a movie that doesn’t have red and yellow? Obviously, the Simpson family did not qualify and as Matt Groening was unwilling to let Lisa and her friends lose their lemon sheen, the film was never released in Burma.

Sky fall (2012)

Censored country: China

Skyfall - Credit: Sony Pictures

Skyfall – Credit: Sony Pictures

James Bond may travel the world, but his antics aren’t always welcomed by foreign authorities. Sky fall it was a big hit everywhere, but in order for the film to have a major release in China, the producers had to remove several scenes to comply with Chinese censors.

The scene where Ola Rapace’s hitman shoots a Chinese guard in the hotel lobby has been removed, as has any mention of Silva being tortured by Chinese authorities. When Bond questions Severine about her tattoo and how it means she was sold as a child slave, Chinese subtitles tell a completely different story about how she was sold to the mob. Bond obeyed and headed east.

Hard to kill (1988)

Country censored: Germany

Die Hard - Credit: 20th Century Fox

Die Hard – Credit: 20th Century Fox

Perhaps unsurprisingly, German audiences weren’t too keen on being painted as calculating villains, so when John McTiernan’s ageless action thriller was released there in 1988, some tweaking was needed.

As it turns out, the ‘German’ language spoken by Hans Gruber and henchmen bears very little resemblance to real German. This sort of thing wouldn’t work with real-life Germans, so for their domestic liberation, Hans’ terrorists came from the ultra-vague nation of ‘Europe’.

Titanic 3D (2012)

Censored country: China

Kate Winslet in Titanic - Credit: 20th Century Fox

Kate Winslet in Titanic – Credit: 20th Century Fox

That’s right, China was again, forcing even the uncompromising James Cameron to bow to the censors. Chinese audiences were devastated when they discovered that the film’s infamous nude scene, with Kate Winslet draped in a sun lounger, had been cut across the neck.

The reason is priceless: “Given the vivid 3D effects, we fear that viewers might reach out for a touch and thereby interrupt others’ viewing,” said an employee. They were right to be cautious: covering Kate’s chest may have contributed to what would become the biggest film opening in Chinese box office history.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Censored country: Iran

John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.  (Photos from Colombia)

John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. (Photos from Colombia)

Iran’s relationship with cinema has been tumultuous, to say the least, after theaters were burned to the ground under the Khomeini regime in the 1970s. Filmmakers like Abbas Kiarostami would continue to flourish, and eventually even Western films would hit Iranian theaters. – but not without heavy censorship. No expensive retouching work for Iranians: when men and women are considered too close, they are awkwardly separated with special effects or objects superimposed on the scene.

the scene in Talladega Nights, where Ricky Bobby runs off the track in just his pants, was changed significantly in Iran – they just covered him with an elongated wall. Untied!

Mission: Impossible III (2006)

Censored country: China

Mission Impossible III - Credit: Paramount

Mission Impossible III – Credit: Paramount

Another odd request from China, which granted JJ Abrams and crew permission to film in their fair land, but had some requests when the film passed the censorship board. One scene, where a group of men are seen playing mahjong, was removed due to the implication that all Chinese villagers were players, while another scene was edited because laundry hanging on clotheslines hanging above the streets of Shanghai was deemed too dirty.

Until edits were made, the film was not approved under Chinese Communist Party guidelines.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)

Censored country: China

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - Credit: Disney

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – Credit: Disney

You might think that the casting of Hong Kong star Chow Yun-Fat might have been to appease the eastern market, but you would be wrong – in fact, his casting caused Jerry Bruckheimer all sorts of problems.

The character of the Chinese pirate Sao Feng was deemed extremely offensive to Chinese audiences, so to ensure the film was released in the region, director Gore Verbinski – or, more likely, the poor guy who was occupying the editing area that day – had to cut out the character entirely.

Never mind that the movie didn’t make sense – it didn’t make sense in the uncut English version either.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Country censored: India

Temple of Doom - Credit: Paramount

Temple of Doom – Credit: Paramount

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas strayed from colonial-era stereotypes with their Indy prequel, depicting Indians as savages who hadn’t yet been introduced to the concept of table manners — it’s no wonder they were denied permission to film in India.

The villain, Mola Ram, is more of a caricature than a character, ripping out men’s hearts and putting children to work in the mines, but it’s the scenes where Indy eats with his Indian hosts that were most offensive.

Harrison Ford is threatened with a knife in a scene from the movie 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom', 1984. (Photo: Paramount/Getty Images)

Harrison Ford is threatened with a knife in the movie scene Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom1984. (Paramount/Getty Images)

On the menu were snakes and spiders, but the final insult was the monkey brains course – because monkeys are considered sacred in India. The film was banned in India upon release and is still frowned upon decades later.

zoolander (2001)

Censored country: Iran

Zoolander - Credit: Paramount

Zoolander – Credit: Paramount

It was no surprise that Ben Stiller’s cult comedy wasn’t released in Malaysia, with the plot of assassinating the Malaysian Prime Minister and all, but it was a surprise to learn the reasons why Iran banned it. zoolander: for its ‘gay themes’.

What homosexual themes, you might ask? Good question, because none of the characters are actually gay (although several are fabulous to hitherto unknown levels) and there are no gay jokes, so it seems like the fashion industry was too camp for Iranian censors.

To see: Light-year banned in saudi arabia

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