Ryan Reynolds may have had some choice words for China's film censorship board following their ban of Deadpool, but for others there's no arguing against censorship. From digital manipulation to completely tearing holes into a film's narrative, these are some of the bizarre ways and reasons why films have been censored around the world.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Iran)
Iran has some pretty heavy censorship rules when it comes to films, both domestic and foreign. Sticking to the strict censorship guidelines, Iran's film censorship board has quite a task on their hands, as The Atlantic explained:
There are 37 rules ... many pertain to women: no close-ups of their faces, no makeup, no exposed necklines; men and women can't sit closely, appear to be alone together, touch, or exchange "tender words or jokes." Veiled women, bearded men, policemen, and soldiers can't be portrayed negatively without "a good excuse." No booze, no profanity against religion, or neck ties, which are seen as a symbol of foreign culture. Oh, and no sorcery -- sorry, Harry Potter.
The rules are so stringent even romantic sentiments like, "I love you" are often changed, while some censors have even gone so far as to cut women out of scenes completely.
But it's not just women. In Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, the titular character, played by Will Ferrell, crashes his race car, strips off his clothes and runs around frantically (not the first time), screaming that he's on fire while we get to laugh at him in his tighty-whities.
Except for Iran. In their version, a large white wall is put in place to cover up Ferrell's half-nakedness (something that the rest of us are all too used to).
It could be worse. They could just cut him out completely like Kevin Spacey's co-star shown above.
You can watch the usual, uncensored clip, sans wall, below:
Mission: Impossible III (China)
The People's Republic of China has a history of censoring and banning films that are deemed inappropriate or offensive to the culture of the country. Deadpool (graphic violence), Men In Black III (aliens disguised as Chinese restaurant workers), and Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (Chow Yun-fat's character, pirate Sao Feng, was deemed an insulting caricature) are just a few examples of China's strict censorship laws.
However, not all censorship edits are obvious choices. In Mission: Impossible III, a scene showing Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) running through a street in Shanghai was edited to remove the clothes hanging from washing lines, as well as another scene which shows elderly men playing Mahjong while hostages are held in a nearby room.
Although most people in Shanghai hang their clothes on washing lines outside, the scenes were said to paint a "poor image of the city," with CEO of Apex Entertainment, T.J. Green, explaining that the censors believed it did not show Shanghai in a positive enough light.
While films released in the U.S. have far less to worry about in terms of what they can and can't show, television censorship laws are slightly more strict and edits are often made to remove anything deemed inappropriate for television viewers.
The 2006 film Crank features gratuitous amounts of sex, violence, and swearing, enough to make a censorship board member break out into a cold sweat. However the film was given a solid R rating and released in cinemas with no issue. The television version, on the other hand, required a few edits before it was deemed suitable for its audience. In one particular NSFW scene, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) points to his forehead and asks, "Do you think I've got 'c**t' written on my forehead?”
Obviously the censors couldn't let a line like that get through, so they changed that particular four-letter word for one deemed more suitable:
Eyes Wide Shut (Australia)
Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was considered highly controversial due to its explicit sexual content and originally received an NC-17 rating. However, as this would limit its theatrical distribution, it was edited and scenes were digitally altered to censor anything that was seen as overly explicit. Since the movie is basically about an underground sex club, this made the censored version of the film seem like a gritty version of Austin Powers.
Both versions are available on DVD and Blu-ray, however it is the edited version which appears on television, as was the case when it was broadcast on Australian television, featuring all of the digital edits and cuts necessary to bring it down to an MA rating.
Decider have put together a very NSFW gallery comparing the two versions of the film, which you can view here.
Fifty Shades of Grey (Vietnam)
Grossing over $571 million with a $40 million budget, Fifty Shades of Grey was definitive proof that sex, and not a solid plot, really does sell. With ticket sales through the roof, fans of the book-series-turned-film-series flocked to cinemas around the world to watch Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan get it on. However, fans living in countries with strict censorship laws were left disappointed when the film's main selling point was heavily edited to the point where it was basically cut out completely.
While countries such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, India and the United Arab Emirates banned the film entirely, fans in Vietnam were left outraged as they were forced to watch a heavily edited version of the film, in which 20 minutes of the film were completely cut out. Basically all of the sex scenes were dropped, as well as the final scene involving Ana being beaten with a belt, which left Vietnamese viewers confused and wondering what happened to the narrative.
Of course, movie-goers expressed their outrage at the censorship:
It's totally ridiculous. This version is rated 16+, but it doesn't need an age restriction; a five-year-old could watch it. Even the trailer was sexier. They'd have been better banning it altogether.
While censorship is in place to protect the interests of each country, the overuse of editing resulted in Fifty Shades of Grey becoming one of the most illegally downloaded films of 2015.
Red Dawn (China)
As it has already been mentioned, China has some of the most extreme censorship laws in the world. They are often politically motivated, which is why its censorship board didn't take too well to the 2012 remake of 1984's Red Dawn replacing the attacking Soviet forces with the Chinese Army. With China being such a huge market for films, and with Sony Pictures taking over the distribution of the film from MGM, changes had to be made and the film's Big Bad was changed from China to North Korea in post-production.
As reported by Vulture, an MGM insider spoke to the Los Angeles Times, explaining what happened after Sony's takeover:
"Everything that was interesting about the premise was kind of neutered to accommodate the new distributor," says MGM 1. Out went the repo story line and the U.S. default on T-bills; in came a convoluted and implausible reworking – all by editing, CGI, and dubbing, no reshoots – that has North Korea becoming the lead invader, with Russia and China backing them.