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Whether it be through a thumatrope, a phenakistoscope, a zoetrope, a movie camera, or a webcam, man kind has been thrilled by moving images since the dawn of time. Though not officially “invented’ until the late 1800s, motion pictures have become an escape. Whether its a 30 second animated short or a 10 hour epic, we’re amazed to see images dance on our screens.

Since the dawn of the motion picture, producers, writers, and directors have pushed the boundaries of what they will show an audience. While many of us are familiar with Charlie Chaplin classics like Tango Tangles or Cruel, Cruel Love, we forget that movies like The Life Story of David Lloyd were banned from audiences.

I’ve always had a fascination with films that I’m not supposed to see. Whether I’m told by friends, family members, or even my government that I shouldn’t see something, it makes me want to see it more. That’s human nature. Ban something, and we’ll want it. Greatest example Never Mind the Bullocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols was banned by the BBC and even pulled from record store shelves. It was still the biggest selling album in the UK in 1978.

What really fascinates me most is the changing tide of audiences. For instance, my mom recants the story of seeing The Graduate in theater 1967.  Her stepmother, my Nana, had to sign a waiver to allow my then 9 year old mother to see the movie. Apparently, the theater was worried the films content would mess with my mom’s psyche. Having seen the film myself several times (I have a copy of it on my DVD shelf), though there are scenes I wouldn’t subject a 9 year old to, I don’t see the signing a waiver to be necessary to watch The Graduate. (currently ranked 7 on the AFI Top 100 Films list).

I could probably cite several inspirations that have lead me to take on this project. Whether it was watching Death Scenes 2 with my cousin Steve at age 16, Nicolas Cage in 8mm, or my monthly check ins to Rotten.com (seriously, they need to update their stuff!!). Its all lead to this project. However, the straw that finally broke the camels back, was my recent viewing of a Channel 4 series titled The Dark Side of Porn. Episodes 8 and 9 specifically deal with banned films.  

Several of the films I will review over the next few blog posts may seem tame, some may seem absurd, and others may seem outright disgusting. As I’ve read over lists of films banned by governments worldwide, I’ve found some to be common films that have actually blown my mind that they’d be banned. Did you know Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is banned in China? Others, such as  or Cannibal Holocaust or Animal Farm (street name of the 1971 pornographic film starring Bodil Joensen) have reason to be banned.

My criteria for a “banned film” is as follows:

– Has the film been banned in the United States, Canada, or United Kingdom as well as 1 other Western* country  (not including Ireland)?

– Has the film been banned in 2 countries outside of Europe or North America?

– How hard is it to find a digital or physical copy of the film?

– What were the grounds for the film being banned?

– How old is the film?

– In 10 years, could this film be removed from a banned film list?

– How many sessions with a psychologist will I need to fall asleep after watching this film?

– Would I show/recommend this film to my friends?

So, sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy.

*Western defined as: North America, Europe, Japan, and Australia

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