Monty Python: Life of Brian
To make a religious-political satire requires, among other qualities, talent, a strong stomach, and steady nerves. I believe the Monty Python group had no lack of any of these qualities. Above all, they had the benefit of superb humourous insight to reconstruct a unique perspective into a fatal historical confusion as to the identity of a Messiah. The indignation of the Church and many of its believers was somehow counted upon, but in the event, two major things happened. In some countries (Ireland, Norway) the film was banned at the time it was introduced, with bans that lasted several decades. On the other hand the film became popular among theology students, among many other segments of the market, since it injected some energy in an otherwise rigid and too-familiar story.
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Including Borat in a list of banned movies will surprise no one. Sacha Baron Cohen is known for cutting to the quick of any matter, and his snippets often go beyond the film itself (such as playing the Borat anthem instead of the National Kazakhstan anthem at championship games in Kuwait in 2012). Few producers or directors can say that their films boosted tourism in one country or another. Cohen can. Despite displaying Kazakhstan in a not exactly flattering way and offering factually incorrect information about the country, tourists literally poured into Kazakhstan after Borat’s premiere. While Borat is often associated with Kazakhstan and its embarassing foibles, Cohen in reality aimed at other targets. Collecting small fragments of often shocking opinions and prejudices respecting various controversial topics among both publicly known and average people could have probably not been achieved through more conventional means. While the message was fairly understood among Kazakh people, in some countries the film was considered to be a disgusting example of decadent entertainment (in Arab countries, the UAE).
Brokeback Mountain – the story of the lives of two cowboys who spend a summer herding sheep in the lonely mountains of Wyoming. Their initial sympathy for each other eventually leads to a sexual and emotional relationship. After their season together they go their separate ways. Eventually they both get married and have children, only to find out after a reunion four years later that they still feel the same way about each other. The film was well received and won awards. Nonetheless, as a film that promoted homosexuality it was banned in the Middle East, as homosexuality is a crime in most Islamic countries. In the United Arab Emirates, the film was banned in theaters but released in DVDs, and in Lebanon was released in a a censored version.
La belle Verte
While the ban for Borat will shock no one, the ban for the next movie will surprise many people. The Green Beautiful is one of the most astonishing themes the film industry could have picked, and yet, the film was apparently ignored by the EU in 1996.