Controversial Movies

A month or so back Entertainment Weekly published a list of the top controversial movies of all time. The list included Caligula, JFK, A Clockwork Orange, and The Passion of the Christ.

Some listed like Kids I was shocked by how completely unshocked I was when I saw it. The same applies for Happiness, I was underwhelmed (although I enjoyed it) because of how much people had talked it up.

My question to you is, what supposedly controversial or shocking film have you seen and were suprised at how unshocking the movie was or why it got so much attention?

The Last Temptation of Christ. I had to drive past picketers when I saw that film! Only two of them, but still!

BTW: Willem Dafoe! Best. Jesus. Ever.

That is one of those movies that have been banned from discussion between my sister and I in public areas. The discussion always ends on the “God damn Jesus was hot!” area and that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

Including the original? :wink:

The OP reminds me of that episode of MASH* where Hawkeye’s virtually salivating at the prospect of having The Moon is Blue (“Banned in Boston”) screened at the camp. When it finally arrives, he’s sorely disappointed because the only thing racy in the film is the word “virgin” (to which he responds–“Because everyone in the movie is one!”)

So far as we can tell from the Gospels, definitely. No comparison.

People tend to forget, but Monty Python’s Life of Brian was highly controversial when it came out. The Pythons had trouble getting financing until bailed out by George Harrison and his Hand Made Films. And when it opened, it was picketed for being disrespectful of Christ.

Excuse me, but are we related? :wink:

I tried to take a friend of mine to see Last Temptation of Christ when it came out, but she had been in a play with Willem Dafoe years earlier, and she was too embarrassed to see him naked.

An EW letter-writer this week whaled on them for picking ALADDIN over SONG OF THE SOUTH.

I thought BIRTH OF A NATION should have been #1. An 80+yo film that STILL gets protests at even the mention of a public showing!
Btw, it’s great to give the MST3K treatment!

RE- The Last Temptation- I’m an evangelical & while I understood the fuss over it, I’d actually read the book a couple years before release (when Aidan Quinn & Sting were said to have been cast as JC & Pilate) & knew what to expect- a doctrinally-heretical but thought-provoking eccentrically-devout semi-hallucinagenic meditation on the Dual Nature of our L&SJC. On first viewing (on video) I was somewhat disappointed but with later viewings, it grew on me - and the soundtrack still gives me shivers.

JFK wasn’t just completely uncontroversial when I watched it first, when I saw the BBC debunk of the Kennedy assassination, it then seemed completely and utterly ludicrous.

What part of slipping a 10 year boy sleeping pills on a sleepover and raping him didn’t shock you?

Or, the teenager shooting his wad onto a railing, having his dog lick it up, and then go in the other room and lick the mom’s face?

I just heard about this Japanese movie called “Battle Royale” (in English) about a bunch of school kids that get kidnapped on an Island and have to murder each other. They tried to get it banned in Japan.

Apparently New Line Cinema has bought the rights to remake it.

If anyone wants the EW list, it’s

  1. The Passion Of The Christ
  2. A Clockwork Orange
  3. Fahrenheit 9/11
  4. Deep Throat
  5. JFK
  6. The Last Temptation Of Christ
  7. The Birth Of A Nation
  8. Natural Born Killers
  9. Last Tango In Paris
  10. Baby Doll
  11. The Message
  12. The Deer Hunter
  13. The DaVinci Code
  14. The Warriors
  15. Triumph Of The Will
  16. United 93
  17. Freaks
  18. I Am Curious (Yellow)
  19. Basic Instinct
  20. Cannibal Holocaust
  21. Bonnie & Clyde
  22. Do The Right Thing
  23. Kids
  24. Caligula
  25. Aladdin

I’m a little confused here. Are you saying that the movie JFK was not controversial when it was released? Because it was controversial here in the U.S., where many critics called it inaccurate and misleading.

When you refer to the “BBC debunk of the Kennedy assassination,” what were they debunking: The findings of the Warren Commission (that Oswald acted alone), the beliefs of the conspiracy theorists, or the movie JFK?

Patton was supposed to be controversial because Patton slapped a wounded solder who was breaking down, and he also shot a horse that got in his way. I saw it when I was a little kid and both made perfect sense to me at the time.

That would’ve made Patton the man controversial, not the movie (since an increased fidelity to “realism” was in vogue by then).

Which is a bit idiotic because SotS is controversial now, but wasn’t then. The inclusion of Aladdin is even dumber, though. I can think of plenty of much more controversial films, starting with Il Miracolo, which infuriated the Catholic Church by depicting a woman (Anna Magnani) who believes she’s carrying a holy child because she’s seduced by someone claiming to be a Saint. Godard’s Hail Mary and any number of Luis Bunuel films would also be much better choices.

I dunno–was their standard controversy at the time of release? Was Birth of a Nation more controversial when it was released than SotS was? It certainly seems to me as though SotS is Disney’s most controversial movie, and therefore would be a good pick.

When Robocop was first released, it was nearly rated X for violence (IIRC). I’m not supersqueamish, but I figured the movie must be pretty horrific in order to flirt with such a rating, so I avoided seeing it for a long time. Finally I steeled myself up for it and watched it.

That movie might earn a PG-13 today, but certainly wouldn’t be rated R for violence.

(Not saying it shoulda made the list, just that I was surprised at there being any initial controversy over its violence).


Though Birth was an enormous box office success, it’s overt racism and romanticism of the Klan was not without significant detractors even upon its original release. From Wikipedia:

Conversely, Song of the South was part of Disney’s normal theatrical re-release cycle for decades, and was even released on home video early on before finally being rendered unavailable. It was originally released just a few years after GWTW and whatever offensive material it had could reasonably be considered more “benign” (a sugar-coating of history) and not as overt as the Griffith film, which is significantly more incendiary.

I didn’t find anything controversial about Fahrenheit 9/11, but then I’m a member of the reality-based coalition. :wink: