40 Movies That Were Banned Across the Globe
Some of these movies got banned for pretty solid reasons while others are a lot more hilarious.
It's no surprise that movies get banned. In fact, you've probably seen a film that was banned in another country. Well, these movies got the ban-hammer due to content. For some of them, the reason is positively ridiculous (like Winnie the Pooh), while others? Yeah, they're completely justified. For whatever reason, these are 40 movies that are banned in other countries.
Winnie the Pooh
Despite the patent absurdity of this statement, it’s absolutely true: Winnie the Pooh is considered a symbol of political dissidence in China. Because the lovable bear shares a physical resemblance to Chinese president Xi Jinping, political opponents have been using him as a way to criticize the president.
Though E.T. is seen as one of the most enduring family films of all time, Sweden, Finland, and Norway didn’t think it was suitable for children. The reason? They said that it portrayed adults as heartless, arguing that the movie might cause kids to think it is acceptable to disobey their elders.
Team America: World Police
This one is completely expected. Former North Korean leader Kim Jon-Il features heavily in Team America: World Police in a role that’s less-than-flattering. Obviously this grave injustice could not stand, and censors banned the film in North Korea. Later, North Korea came out and said the film "should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war."
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street was banned in multiple African countries because of its depictions of drug use, sex, and criminal activity. We get it, but it also pretty much sums up most movies that come out of Hollywood these days. Some countries allowed the movie to play but cut anywhere from a few lines to a full hour of the movie. Apparently, America is the only place that got to see The Wolf of Wall Street in full.
Ireland's population is predominantly made up of practicing Catholics, and as a result, the country adheres to a specific moral code. In 1923, the country passed the Censorship of Films Act, which was meant to shield the public from anything considered inappropriate. This led to the banning of Brief Encounter because the movie's plot of two married people falling in love at a train station made adultery look acceptable.
Even though the film was an American blockbuster, Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot is actually from Israel. Despite it having nothing to with the country, Wonder Woman was banned in Lebanon as an “Israeli” product.
While filming Brokedown Palace, actress Claire Danes visited some less-than-ideal locations in the Philippines to play a character who is busted for smuggling drugs while on vacation. She spoke ill of the country in many interviews, even calling the capital of Manila a “giant toilet full of crazy people.” As a result, the Philippines banned Brokedown Palace and any other movie featuring Danes.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest received a censorship double whammy from China. It was banned in the country for both depictions of human cannibalism and for showing the souls of the dead.
You might expect that a James Bond movie would be banned for the frivolous nature in which it displays sex, but not this time. It is no secret that actor Gert Frobe was once a Nazi, and this didn’t sit well with the people of Israel. The country banned Goldfinger, only to reverse the decision later when it was discovered that Frobe actually helped Jews escape from concentration camps.
Blue Jasmine tells the story of a burned-out New York socialite who is trying to get her life back together by going to live with her sister in New York, a relatively innocent plot that earned the movie a PG-13 rating in the U.S. India had different thoughts, though. The country banned the film because comedian Andrew Dice Clay smokes a cigarette on screen in one scene.
So it turns out that China is scared of ghosts, or rather, they’re scared of their citizens seeing movies depict them. The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot was banned there because it allegedly “promotes cults or superstition.”
Sex and the City
Despite the fact that both the Sex and the City TV show and movie series are simply about four desperate, past-their-prime women, both Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates decided the films were much too racy for their delicate eyes.
Hostel is a violent, disturbing movie, so it’s not surprising its seen bans. It features graphic violence that's a little too much, even for some of the strongest stomachs. We wouldn't recommend anyone watch this film.
Back to the Future
China has a tendency to ban anything it disagrees with, as illustrated by the bans on “fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and even a lack of positive thinking.” This has stopped many movies from being shown, including Back to the Future for depicting characters changing the past.
Hillary: The Movie
In 2008, Hillary was running to be the President of the United States, and at the same time, a documentary was to be released about her life. The opposition stated that the film was propaganda, and it was banned through the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is quite possibly the only movie ever to be banned by the creator itself. After receiving multiple death threats against his family, Stanley Kubrick asked UK censors to pull the movie from theaters for his safety.
While almost no one remembers Rififi now, it caused a controversy when it was released in 1955. The film, which is about a group of burglars pulling off a heist, was banned in Finland over fears that viewers would try to copy the crimes themselves.
One of the racier and most recent movies on the list is Cuties. This film is a French coming-of-age drama where a girl joins a dance troupe. At first, it doesn’t sound too bad, but it features girls dancing and dressing in a very inappropriate matter. Netflix removed the movie after public outcry while several countries moved to ban it altogether. America has decided to move forward with an investigation into the film for sexualizing minors.
The Vanishing Prairie
Even Disney isn’t safe from the censors! The Vanishing Prairie was a Disney documentary about the American prairie and the wildlife it is home to. New York State was having none of this educational nonsense, though. They banned the film for its depiction of a buffalo calf being born--apparently New Yorkers preferred the Stork to deliver babies, human and non-human alike.
This gripping drama about the Holocaust wasn’t well-received in countries with large Muslim populations. Several Middle Eastern nations and Indonesia banned the film. Malaysia banned it because of seven scenes including nudity, sexual content, and violence. Spielberg refused to remove the scenes, so it remains banned.
Last Temptation of Christ
Martin Scorsese is one of the best directors out there, but his films are often also banned. The Last Temptation of Christ was met with a ton of criticism because it depicted Jesus having lustful thoughts. He also faced feelings of fear, doubt, and hopelessness – you know, all feelings people normally have. Protests led to it being banned in New Orleans and Savannah, Georgia.
In North Korea, leaders are revered on a superhuman level. Thus, 2012 was banned in the country because the film’s date coincided with the 100th anniversary of former leader Kim Il-Sung. The North Koreans didn’t want anything to interfere with their celebration, especially a disaster movie that depicted the end of the world.
The Departed got nixed by China for a single, insignificant scene. In it, Chinese agents are shown buying military technology from Jack Nicholson’s character. It’s largely unimportant to the rest of the movie, but China was not happy about its portrayal as criminals.
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Everyone loves Monty Python films – well, not everyone. The Life of Brian pushed it too far for some. It was considered blasphemous and banned in Norway and several U.S. towns. The U.K. also surprisingly decided that it was too bad to show. The ban was lifted in 2004 after a rerelease and a fan outcry.
Despite the fact that District 9 is basically one long allegory for the evils of racism, the film was banned in Nigeria for being too racist. Nigerians didn’t care for the film portraying them as criminals who took advantage of the aliens the movie centers around.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
As you might guess from the title, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a raunchy movie that even borders on softcore pornography. Some theaters in America banned the movie for this reason, and the MPAA banned one of its posters from distribution.
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 war epic won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. However, the people of South Korea didn’t think so. President Park Chung-hee banned the movie because it was too anti-war.
In the mockumentary Borat, the titular, ridiculous character is from the real-life country of Kazakhstan. Even though they were right to be offended by their portrayal, banning the movie was a dumb idea on their part--since its release tourism has been on the rise in this once-unknown country.
The Simpsons Movie
If you’re from Burma, there’s a good chance you didn’t even know a Simpsons movie existed. It was banned there not because of content but because of color--red and yellow in combination are associated with rebel groups in the country.
Since it was an animated film, the raunchy, adult comedy Sausage Party was banned in Taiwan because of fears parents would accidentally take their kids to see it. How is bad parenting Sony’s problem?
Dr. Strangelove was one of the best and funniest portrayals of life during the Cold War. Unfortunately, the people of Finland didn’t get to join in on the fun. The movie was banned in the country because it shared a border with the Soviet Union--and the Finns were worried about ruffling their feathers.
The Bohemian Girl
If your film is banned by the Nazis, you’re probably doing something right. The Laurel and Hardy movie, The Bohemian Girl, was banned in Nazi Germany because of its positive portrayal of gypsies--a group the Third Reich was looking to exterminate.
They Chose Peace
They Chose Peace was a documentary released in Australia during the Korean war and was promptly banned for not promoting the “good manners and decorum” of the country. So how exactly were the documentary subjects behaving badly? They were advocating for humanitarian efforts over war.
Miss Sadie Thompson
If you were a Catholic in the 50s, you probably didn’t watch Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth. It was deemed inappropriate by the Catholic Film Centre and the devout were banned from viewing it because of its racy content. Oh, if only the Centre could see what’s considered racy today.
The Private Life of Don Juan
While Spain gave no official reason for banning the 1934 film The Private Life of Don Juan, it’s pretty easy to infer. Don Juan was an iconic Spanish symbol of romance and masculinity, and they weren’t thrilled that this film portrayed him as feeble and pathetic.
David and Bathsheba
Gregory Peck starred in this 1951 adaptation of the Bible story of David and Bathsheba. It was banned in Singapore for fears that it would offend Muslim sensibilities--despite the fact that David is a figure within Islam as well.
The Halfway House
China might be the country most famous for banning ghost stories, but during World War II, Yugoslavia was a fan of this practice as well. The now-obscure horror movie The Halfway House was banned in the country because it did not educate Yugoslavians in “the real things of life.”
A Song is Born
A Song is Born (1948) was banned from public showings in Memphis for both stupid and racist reasons. The stupid reason was this: the movie depicted New Orleans as the home of jazz music, not Memphis. And the racist reason: the movie also depicted black and white people performing together on stage.
Deadpool was a movie designed to offend sensibilities, but apparently the Chinese government was not on board for this. The irreverent superhero film was banned in the country because of its depictions of violence.
The Marx Brothers: classic comedians and...anarchist terrorists? As ridiculous as it sounds, that’s exactly what Irish censors were thinking when they banned their 1931 film Monkey Business. Despite the fact that Ireland is never mentioned and despite the fact that it’s the Marx Brothers (I mean, really!), the country was worried that the movie would promote “anarchic tendencies.”