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Banned films

(This article is in progress)...

The banning of films for political reasons is as old as film itself. There is no country in the world that is innocent of trying it at some time. The motive behind banning films is the fear of a regime change. No regime seems totally immune from this fear.

Sometimes the pressure to ban films comes from political groups that are not part of the regime (yet). Sometimes it comes from religious groups. But unless the regime backs the banning, often times the publicity garnered just makes the film more popular.

Table of contents
1 Famous examples of banned films
2 Banning versus censoring
3 Types of films banned in most/all countries
4 Famous Laws used to ban/censor films
5 Famous organizations promoting banning/censorship of films
6 Mechanisms for getting films unbanned
7 Does the Internet change everything?

Famous examples of banned films

An example of this is 1915's Birth of a Nation, which was the target of the fledgling NAACP, first for banning, then for censorship, all of which only seemed to make it more popular. Indeed it took Gone With the Wind to eclipse its box-office numbers.

1925's Ben-Hur was banned in China in 1930 for containing "propaganda of superstitious beliefs, namely Christianity." Since Christianity itself hadn't made much of a dent on China, the ban was effective.

1940's The Great Dictator, in which Charlie Chaplin lampooned Adolf Hitler (in the role of Adenoid Hynkel) was banned in Hitler's Germany. Strangely, even Americans seemed to think that Chaplin had become too self-indulging, and this film turned out to be his last with the "little tramp" character.

Banning versus censoring

More effective than banning a film is censoring it. Many governments have regular censorship bureaucracies. Depending on the country, the excuse for not letting people choose what they view is immorality/indecency, offense given to "sacred cow" groups, and threats to the regime.

Types of films banned in most/all countries

Famous Laws used to ban/censor films

Famous organizations promoting banning/censorship of films

Mechanisms for getting films unbanned

The usual steps require going to court and winning. This can be expensive and time-consuming, which is just what the banners of the film want.

Does the Internet change everything?

With the advent of the Internet, people can release their films for free if they have to, and let the world watch them, albeit at each viewer's own peril. Since even unbanned films are being shared without paying the copyright owners any royalties, it seems that countries intent on banning films will also have to ban the Internet to keep control. But if the Internet is allowed to exist, the very power to ban films seems to be on the ropes. Still, the jury is out on whether somehow the government will find a way to control access to what it doesn't want seen. The establishment of a one world government would seem to be a necessary condition.

8. Timeline of Banned Films

  2001 June Ernest and Bertrand, gay film, banned because of copyright suit by Sesame Workshop (Bert and Ernie).
  ? Scream, Teen, Scream
  ? Barbie Can Also Be Sad
  ? Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story