Good Movies Banned in Australia

Friday, July 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

The following good movies banned in Australia were deemed unsuitable at one time or another by the country’s Office of Film and Literature Classification (also known as the OFLC). While researching this article, I was surprised at how strict the censors are in the land down under. I mistakenly took the native land of Paul Hogan, Russell Crowe, and Yahoo Serious for a liberal nation, but I’m beginning to think that I was wrong. Read the list and judge for yourself.

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But before we get to the good movies banned in Australia, let’s first look at the rating classifications available to the OFLC:

If a film doesn’t meet the guidelines mentioned above, it will be refused any kind of classification. In these cases, showing such a film carries a stiff penalty of 10 years in jail and/or a $275,000 fine. Of course, that’s assuming that a police officer wants to actually go to the trouble of enforcing such a law. Still, there’s always one.

Now here’s our list of some of the good movies banned in Australia…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) – Banned for its depictions of violence, cannibalism, and Dennis Hopper wielding chainsaws and referring to women as “sister,” this Tobe Hooper sequel was released uncut on video throughout Australia without the approval of the OFLC. This resulted in Federal Customs agents raiding retailers to get the merchandise off the shelves. It would be another 20 years before The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 received approval.

Click here to rent all these banned movies from Netflix

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) – Anti-war films need to make an emotional impact if they’re going to accomplish their goal, but this epic film about German soldiers fighting in World War I was deemed to be a little too successful by the OFLC (at least according to Chief Censor Creswell O’Reilly). Other countries that instituted a ban on the film included Germany, Italy, Austria, and France.

Wolf Creek (2005) – This tale of three youths menaced by a crazed Aussie in the outback was hyped as being “based on true events.” As it turns out, one of the primary inspirations for the film was the case of Bradley John Murdoch, a drifter accused of the murder of an English tourist. Since Murdoch’s trial was still underway at the time (eventually resulting in life imprisonment), authorities in the Northern Territory were concerned that the film could cause an unfair bias. For this reason, Wolf Creek would not be available in this federal territory until the following year.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – Not surprisingly, Australia was one of the many countries to ban this graphic tale of teens running afoul of a murderous clan of cannibals in rural Texas. They first reviewed it in 1975, refusing to grant it a rating of any sort. This would happen twice more in the same year, with even an edited version getting a ban. The distributor would try again in five years, meeting with yet another ban. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre would finally receive a rating of R18+ in Australia in 1984. Oddly enough, director Tobe Hooper originally hoped that he could secure a PG rating in the United States due to the lack of blood and gore. But it’s a clear case of the things that aren’t shown sometimes being more powerful than those that are.

Ken Park (2002) – A group of teen skateboarders in California experiment with their sexuality–including autoerotic asphyxiation–and deal with issues ranging from suicide to incest in this film directed by Larry Clark and Ed Lachman. But since the “exploitative sexual depiction of minors” is considered a crime in Australia, Ken Park received a ban. Critic Margaret Pomeranz disagreed with the move, arranged her own protest screening, and promptly found herself arrested. While Pomeranz was released after receiving a warning, the film still remains under a ban in the land down under.

Satyricon (1969) – Federico Fellini received an Oscar nomination for his bawdy film that author Parker Taylor referred to as “the most profoundly homosexual movie in all history.” Hermaphrodites are kidnapped, buttocks are whipped, and two men marry while one’s wife looks on. Needless to say, the OFLC was not impressed.

Of Mice and Men (1939) – Nominated for four Oscars, this film based on the John Steinbeck novella deals with the cynical George (Burgess Meredith) and the simple-minded Lennie (Lon Chaney Jr.) as they hire on as ranch hands in California during the Great Depression. The sex and violence, while absolutely tame by modern standards, were enough to make it one of the good movies banned in Australia.

Baise-moi (2000) – The English translation for this title is “Fuck Me,” and it stars Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson, two former adult film stars. They play a pair of damaged women who decide to go on a spree of violence and sex across the French countryside. While the film initially received an R18+ rating in Australia–largely due to scenes of unsimulated sex–the Attorney General exercised his authority and had the board’s decision reversed. The film was pulled from theaters, despite the fact that over 50,000 viewers had seen the film with little complaint.

Ninja Scroll (1993) – This Japanese anime about a wandering samurai taking on a deadly clan of ninja was originally released on VHS with a MA15+ rating. In 1997, it was banned thanks to Attorney General Phillip Ruddock. An edited version would later receive an R18+ rating, and it was finally released in its uncut form in 2003.

King Kong (1933) – The story of a giant ape who falls for a human woman, gets himself captured, and finally goes on an ill-advised rampage through New York City was banned in Australia in 1942 along with classics like Frankenstein and Dracula. The reason? “Cruelty” and “high impact scary violence.” Luckily, all the titles listed would become available to viewers in subsequent years.

That concludes our list of good movies banned in Australia. If you’d like to see what got the Australian censors so rile up, be sure to watch them for yourself. The easiest way to go about this is to become a member of Netflix. They have a number of pricing plans, movies are delivered right to your door, and the small commission we receive when you join up helps us to stay in business.

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