The Exorcist, Monty Python and Crash - just some of the 8 films banned or nearly banned in Bournemouth

The Exorcist, Monty Python and Crash - just some of the 8 films banned or nearly banned in Bournemouth

The Exorcist, Monty Python and Crash - just some of the 8 films banned or nearly banned in Bournemouth

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IT is 40 years since Bournemouth councillors considered whether they should ban the blockbusting horror film The Exorcist.

It is one of a succession of films to provoke censorship debates over the years, from A Clockwork Orange and Last Tango In Paris to the explicit horror film A Serbian Film in the 21st century.

Here are some of the films that provoked public outrage – and sometimes led local councillors to take trips to the cinema to see whether they should overturn the national censors’ decisions.

What movies do you remember being especially controversial? Please leave your comments below.

The Exorcist

“No date has yet been fixed for the showing in Bournemouth of the black magic film, The Exorcist,” reported the Daily Echo on May 6 1974.

“Thirteen members of Bournemouth’s environmental services committee had a private showing of the film on Saturday and decided that ABC Film Centre could go ahead with plans to show the film.”

More than 600 people had objected to the film being shown – among them the rural dean of Bournemouth and staff and pupils at Bournemouth School for Girls.

On May 25, with the film about to open, the Echo reported that Bournemouth Council of Churches would be distributing “comfort cards” at ABC cinemas in Bournemouth and Boscombe.

“Around 20 different phone numbers are being used which distressed or disturbed people can ring for help and comfort,” we reported.

The cards read: “The Exorcist. If, after seeing this film, you feel you would like to talk to somebody, ring…”

Bournemouth Echo:

Monty Python’s Life of Brian

The release of Monty Python’s comedy, in which a hapless man is mistaken for Jesus Christ, caused a national outcry in 1979-80.

The British Board of Film Censors (BBFC; now the British Board of Film Classification) had passed it with an AA certificate, meaning no-one under 14 could see it, but some campaigners wanted it banned as blasphemous.

Bournemouth council’s environmental services committee went to see the film at the ABC in February 1980. They decided to change its certificate to X, for over-18s only.

The decision killed the film in the town, because the distributor had refused to show it in areas where the AA rating did not apply.

Life of Brian was shown with an AA certificate at Poole Arts Centre, after a debate among councillors and a 3,000 signature petition in favour of screening it.

Bournemouth Echo:

In 1980 Alan Coleman of Poole collected 3,000 signatures in favour of the film 'Life of Brian'. 

The Last Temptation of Christ

Bournemouth councillors saw Martin Scorsese’s 1988 film before deciding whether it should be banned.

The movie, in which Willem Dafoe as Jesus on the cross was seen fantasising about making love with Mary Magdalene, came to Bournemouth after protests nationwide.

After seeing it at the Cannon cinema (now the ABC), the licensing committee voted 7-5 in favour of showing it.

But committee chairman Cllr Rob Wotton dissented, saying: “I found the film offensive and blasphemous. I am sure a lot of Christian people who come to see the film will be upset.”

But Cllr Brian Lassman said the film was “long and boring” but not blasphemous and it would be “hypocritical” to ban it.

The Cannon’s manager, Peter Allbut, said that as a Christian, he found it moving. “There is nothing in that film that would shake a Christian’s faith,” he said.

Bournemouth Echo:

Echo ad from 1988 for the Martin Scorsese film

Crash

David Cronenberg’s controversial movie is the last film, to date, to be passed by the BBFC but banned in Bournemouth.

It was based on JG Ballard’s novel about characters who are sexually aroused by car accidents.

Poole councillors viewed it in May 1997 before deciding it could be shown in the town.

But when the five members of Bournemouth’s licensing committee saw it at the ABC that July, they banned it.

Chairman Jill Abott said: “It was an unpleasant film, about unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to each other.

“The town of Bournemouth is renowned for its beauty, cleanliness and health – this was an ugly film, and not the sort of thing visitors or residents would want to see.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Sh****d Me

It wasn’t the film so much as the poster that caused controversy in the summer of 1999.

The slightly rude word in the title of Mike Myers’ comedy was painted out by a mystery censor when it was put on a hoarding in Barrack Road, Christchurch.

In Bournemouth, the planning committee agreed to write to the owner of an advertising hoarding at the St Paul’s roundabout to express its disapproval, while one councillor said he had reported the issue to the police.

The Advertising Standards Authority had received 40 complaints but said it would not be taking action.

Bournemouth Echo:

 

Romance

Catherine Breillat’s explicit 1999 film about a woman exploring her sexuality never quite made it to Bournemouth.

Nonetheless, the Daily Mail’s outcry over the film prompted Bournemouth councillors to let the local cinemas know that if they decided to show it, the council would want to see it first.

The resulting outcry might have boosted the movie’s box office potential, but in the event, neither of the Westover Road cinemas proposed screening it.

The Passion of the Christ

Mel Gibson’s film about the last days of Jesus sparked an outcry in 2004, with many of its critics claiming the film blamed the Jewish people for the death of Christ.

The town’s reform Rabbi of the time, David Soetendorp, said he wanted nothing to do with the movie, while Orthodox Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld told the Echo: “We thought we’d overcome the God-killing thing.”

Town centre rector Canon Jim Richardson said: “We’re all to blame for the death of Christ and it’s wrong to pick on one group.”

Despite the outcry, the film was shown without threat of a ban at Bournemouth’s ABC.

Bournemouth Echo: The Passion of The Christ (Directed by Mel Gibson)

A Serbian Film

A row broke out in October 2010 when the organisers of the British Horror Festival, at Bournemouth’s Pier Theatre, planned to show an uncut version of this controversial movie.

The film, about a porn star forced into taking part in a film including child rape and necrophilia, was described by its director as an attack on the Serbian government.

The British Board of Film Classification had demanded almost four minutes of cuts before it could be given an 18 certificate.

There was a hearing of the licensing board during which the vice-chairman admitted downloading the uncut film online in order to judge for himself. Councillors decided only a BBFC-approved version could be shown, but the organisers withdrew the movie.

The council also decided licensing officers would have to look at any unrated films submitted for festivals in future, including low-budget and student movies.

Bournemouth Echo:

Comments (17)

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10:16am Fri 9 May 14

Telscombe Cliffy says...

I think I went to Southampton to see the Python film
I think I went to Southampton to see the Python film Telscombe Cliffy
  • Score: 1

11:19am Fri 9 May 14

smhinto says...

Perhaps Bournemouth Council should consider banning the 'Diddleys' from the area.. They are far more terrifying than the Exorcist.
Perhaps Bournemouth Council should consider banning the 'Diddleys' from the area.. They are far more terrifying than the Exorcist. smhinto
  • Score: 4

12:10pm Fri 9 May 14

madras says...

I remember going to Poole to watch Life of Brian when Bournemouth banned it - and it was probably the funniest film I have ever watched. Remember the Python support film too... 'more bloody gondolas'!
I remember going to Poole to watch Life of Brian when Bournemouth banned it - and it was probably the funniest film I have ever watched. Remember the Python support film too... 'more bloody gondolas'! madras
  • Score: 4

12:24pm Fri 9 May 14

Professor Zaroff says...

I also saw Life of Brian at Poole Arts Centre. The place was packed.

I was thinking about the support film just the other day. I recall the line as "those f******* gondolas". Voiced by Cleese as I recall.
I also saw Life of Brian at Poole Arts Centre. The place was packed. I was thinking about the support film just the other day. I recall the line as "those f******* gondolas". Voiced by Cleese as I recall. Professor Zaroff
  • Score: 3

12:27pm Fri 9 May 14

Professor Zaroff says...

Oh and I saw Crash - living in the Midlands at the time. Best thing about it was the end, as that meant it was over. Utterly tedious.
Oh and I saw Crash - living in the Midlands at the time. Best thing about it was the end, as that meant it was over. Utterly tedious. Professor Zaroff
  • Score: 3

1:29pm Fri 9 May 14

muscliffman says...

What a shame the Council didn't ban that dreadful film "Carry on surfing on our reef", a tragic and black comedy as I recall released about ten years ago from a dodgy New Zealand studio.
What a shame the Council didn't ban that dreadful film "Carry on surfing on our reef", a tragic and black comedy as I recall released about ten years ago from a dodgy New Zealand studio. muscliffman
  • Score: 7

1:42pm Fri 9 May 14

spooki says...

The Exorcist: who exactly would they call? Ghostbusters?
The Life Of Brian: those who claimed it was "blasphemous" don't want people to think for themselves. Let people see the film if they want to! Who threw that stone? Shut up and let them find out! Being Monty Python it was hardly going to be a biopic was it?
Nowadays films are out on DVD within 6 months anyway.
The Exorcist: who exactly would they call? Ghostbusters? The Life Of Brian: those who claimed it was "blasphemous" don't want people to think for themselves. Let people see the film if they want to! Who threw that stone? Shut up and let them find out! Being Monty Python it was hardly going to be a biopic was it? Nowadays films are out on DVD within 6 months anyway. spooki
  • Score: 3

2:19pm Fri 9 May 14

mikey2gorgeous says...

The ironic thing was that the classifications meant nothing in those days as it was so easy to sneak in through the exits for free!
The ironic thing was that the classifications meant nothing in those days as it was so easy to sneak in through the exits for free! mikey2gorgeous
  • Score: 0

2:28pm Fri 9 May 14

headmixer says...

I'd like to know how I got all the credit for the petition. Mark Richardson, Michael Shankland and a few others all did their bit (sorry I can't remember names) Nicky Avery is also a face I recognise from the photo. Irony is that I never did go and see the film in the Arts Centre after all that.
I'd like to know how I got all the credit for the petition. Mark Richardson, Michael Shankland and a few others all did their bit (sorry I can't remember names) Nicky Avery is also a face I recognise from the photo. Irony is that I never did go and see the film in the Arts Centre after all that. headmixer
  • Score: 2

3:43pm Fri 9 May 14

boyerboy says...

I recall the day when Councillors banned the "swimming", think it was about bathing in public swimming baths.

They made a good job of it, had to travel miles to access an altenative.
I recall the day when Councillors banned the "swimming", think it was about bathing in public swimming baths. They made a good job of it, had to travel miles to access an altenative. boyerboy
  • Score: 1

4:23pm Fri 9 May 14

hamworthygirl says...

I remember the fuss over the exorcist film but insisted my husband and i go see it in Bournemouth. It scared me to death, I spent half the film with my eyes shut and as we had paid he wouldnt leave,and yes we are still married. I still cant watch it and i have seen many horror films since that havent upset me at all.
I remember the fuss over the exorcist film but insisted my husband and i go see it in Bournemouth. It scared me to death, I spent half the film with my eyes shut and as we had paid he wouldnt leave,and yes we are still married. I still cant watch it and i have seen many horror films since that havent upset me at all. hamworthygirl
  • Score: -2

4:43pm Fri 9 May 14

NickTheGreekinBmth says...

A whole 8 films banned or nearly banned in 40 years. Wow. Top news.
A whole 8 films banned or nearly banned in 40 years. Wow. Top news. NickTheGreekinBmth
  • Score: -2

7:42pm Fri 9 May 14

elfinia says...

Although I saw " Bonnie and Clyde" at the Grand Cinema ( before it became a Bingo Hall and then a Casino ) when I was a teenager, I remember it causing controversy due to the violence.....
I also remember Georgie Fame's song , Ossie Clarke and Mary Quant fashions which imitated the '30s Faye Dunaway/Warren Beatty look, and of course Earl Scrugg's Foggie Mountain Breakdown
Although I saw " Bonnie and Clyde" at the Grand Cinema ( before it became a Bingo Hall and then a Casino ) when I was a teenager, I remember it causing controversy due to the violence..... I also remember Georgie Fame's song , Ossie Clarke and Mary Quant fashions which imitated the '30s Faye Dunaway/Warren Beatty look, and of course Earl Scrugg's Foggie Mountain Breakdown elfinia
  • Score: 1

9:16pm Fri 9 May 14

wgb says...

What's outside of Pleasantville? "I don't understand"

That's exactly what these fuddy duddies would love if we lived in the 1950's!!
What's outside of Pleasantville? "I don't understand" That's exactly what these fuddy duddies would love if we lived in the 1950's!! wgb
  • Score: 1

11:40pm Fri 9 May 14

Pablo23 says...

I still find it astonishing that there are adults in this world that accept or even support the fact that a total stranger can watch something and decide they are not allowed to watch. Who are they to judge me; like I can take it but no its too much for you.
Fortunately we now live in the age of the internet where censorship is now obsolete and these religious and career polititions no longer have their control over what we watch read or think.

All of the films above are mentioned and still well known because they ate good, and in the case of Exorcist and Life of Brian, great classic movies.
A Serbian Film is the exception, which due to it aim of pushing the boundaries to unmentionable extremes, just becomes laughable.
And unlike many, I only have an opinion on films I have actually seen.
Interesting article by the way
I still find it astonishing that there are adults in this world that accept or even support the fact that a total stranger can watch something and decide they are not allowed to watch. Who are they to judge me; like I can take it but no its too much for you. Fortunately we now live in the age of the internet where censorship is now obsolete and these religious and career polititions no longer have their control over what we watch read or think. All of the films above are mentioned and still well known because they ate good, and in the case of Exorcist and Life of Brian, great classic movies. A Serbian Film is the exception, which due to it aim of pushing the boundaries to unmentionable extremes, just becomes laughable. And unlike many, I only have an opinion on films I have actually seen. Interesting article by the way Pablo23
  • Score: 3

1:51am Sat 10 May 14

Xoanon says...

That picture is not from The Exorcist. Surely I am not the only one who noticed?
That picture is not from The Exorcist. Surely I am not the only one who noticed? Xoanon
  • Score: 1

1:21pm Sat 10 May 14

Pablo23 says...

Xoanon wrote:
That picture is not from The Exorcist. Surely I am not the only one who noticed?
I noticed, its from one of those crappy, boring recent rip offs.

Exorcism Diaries according to google
Ho hum
[quote][p][bold]Xoanon[/bold] wrote: That picture is not from The Exorcist. Surely I am not the only one who noticed?[/p][/quote]I noticed, its from one of those crappy, boring recent rip offs. Exorcism Diaries according to google Ho hum Pablo23
  • Score: 1

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