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40 Movies Banned for Completely Ridiculous Reasons

Winnie the Pooh

Despite the patent absurdity of this statement, it’s absolutely true: Winnie the Pooh is considered a symbol of political dissidence in China. Because the lovable bear shares a physical resemblance to Chinese president Xi Jinping, political opponents have been using him as a way to criticize the president. 

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E.T.

Though E.T. is seen as one of the most enduring family films of all time, Sweden, Finland, and Norway didn’t think it was suitable for children. The reason? They said that it portrayed adults as heartless, arguing that the movie might cause kids to think it is acceptable to disobey their elders.

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Team America: World Police

This one is completely expected but also completely ridiculous. Former North Korean leader Kim Jon-Il features heavily in Team America: World Police in a role that’s less-than-flattering. Obviously this grave injustice could not stand, and censors banned the film in North Korea. 

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The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street was banned in multiple African countries because of its depictions of drug use, sex, and criminal activity. Why they didn’t ban every other movie to come out of Hollywood is beyond me. 

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Brief Encounter

Ireland's population is predominantly made up of practicing Catholics, and as a result, the country adheres to a specific moral code. In 1923, the country passed the Censorship of Films Act, which was meant to shield the public from anything considered inappropriate. This led to the banning of Brief Encounter because the movie's plot of two married people falling in love at a train station made adultery look acceptable.

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Wonder Woman

Even though the film was an American blockbuster, Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot is actually from Israel. Despite it having nothing to with the country, Wonder Woman was banned in Lebanon as an “Israeli” product. 

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Brokedown Palace

While filming Brokedown Palace, actress Claire Danes visited some less-than-ideal locations in the Philippines to play a character who is busted for smuggling drugs while on vacation. She spoke ill of the country in many interviews, even calling the capital of Manila a “giant toilet full of crazy people.” As a result, the Philippines banned Brokedown Palace and any other movie featuring Danes.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest received a censorship double whammy from China. It was banned in the country for both depictions of human cannibalism and for showing the souls of the dead. China just can’t seem to escape all these darn ghosts. 

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Goldfinger

You might expect that a James Bond movie would be banned for the frivolous nature in which it displays sex, but not this time. It is no secret that actor Gert Frobe was once a Nazi, and this didn’t sit well with the people of Israel. The country banned Goldfinger, only to reverse the decision later when it was discovered that Frobe actually helped Jews escape from concentration camps.

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Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine tells the story of a burned-out New York socialite who is trying to get her life back together by going to live with her sister in New York, a relatively innocent plot that earned the movie a PG-13 rating in the U.S. India had different thoughts, though. The country banned the film because comedian Andrew Dice Clay smokes a cigarette on screen in one scene.

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Ghostbusters

So it turns out that China is scared of ghosts, or rather, they’re scared of their citizens seeing movies depict them. The 2016 Ghostbusters reboot was banned there because it allegedly “promotes cults or superstition.” 

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Sex and the City

Despite the fact that both the Sex and the City TV show and movie series are simply about four desperate, past-their-prime women, both Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates decided the films were much too racy for their delicate eyes. 

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Hostel

Hostel is a violent, disturbing movie, so it’s not surprising its seen bans. But the most ridiculous ban goes to Ukraine, who restricted the film not for its violence, per se, but because it was violent and set in Eastern Europe. It’s assumed that a movie about a murder club set in Chicago would be a-okay with these censors. 

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Back to the Future

China has a tendency to ban anything it disagrees with, as illustrated by the bans on “fantasy, time-travel, random compilations of mythical stories, bizarre plots, absurd techniques, even propagating feudal superstitions, fatalism and reincarnation, ambiguous moral lessons, and even a lack of positive thinking.” This has stopped many movies from being shown, including Back to the Future for depicting characters changing the past.

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Rififi

While almost no one remembers Rififi now, it caused a controversy when it was released in 1955. The film, which is about a group of burglars pulling off a heist, was banned in Finland over fears that viewers would try to copy the crimes themselves. That says more about the people of Finland than it does this movie, though. 

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Schindler’s List

This gripping drama about the Holocaust wasn’t well-received in countries with large Muslim populations. Several Middle Eastern nations and Indonesia banned the film because it was too sympathetic to the Jewish population. Director Steven Spielberg wasn’t happy, saying, “It’s just disgraceful. It shocks me because I thought the Islamic countries would feel this film could be an instrument of their own issues ... ”

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2012

In North Korea, leaders are revered on a superhuman level. Thus, 2012 was banned in the country because the film’s date coincided with the 100th anniversary of former leader Kim Il-Sung. The North Koreans didn’t want anything to interfere with their celebration, especially a disaster movie that depicted the end of the world.

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Scram!

If you thought it impossible for Laurel and Hardy to be offensive, think again. Their 1932 film Scram! was banned in the Netherlands because the comedy duo are seen in a bed with a woman in one shot. 

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The Departed

The Departed got nixed by China for a single, insignificant scene. In it, Chinese agents are shown buying military technology from Jack Nicholson’s character. It’s largely unimportant to the rest of the movie, but China was not happy about its portrayal as criminals. 

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District 9

Despite the fact that District 9 is basically one long allegory for the evils of racism, the film was banned in Nigeria for being too racist. Nigerians didn’t care for the film portraying them as criminals who took advantage of the aliens the movie centers around. 

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Zack and Miri Make a Porno

As you might guess from the title, Zack and Miri Make a Porno is a raunchy movie that even borders on softcore pornography, but that is not why it was banned in many Asian countries. Officials were afraid that it might make viewers want to make their own porn films. In addition to being banned in Trinidad, Tobago, Malaysia and Thailand, the film also had a tough time being screened in Utah.

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Apocalypse Now

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 war epic won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and is widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. However, the people of South Korea didn’t think so. President Park Chung-hee banned the movie because it was too anti-war.

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Borat

In the mockumentary Borat, the titular, ridiculous character is from the real-life country of Kazakhstan. Even though they were right to be offended by their portrayal, banning the movie was a dumb idea on their part--since its release tourism has been on the rise in this once-unknown country. 

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The Simpsons Movie

If you’re from Burma, there’s a good chance you didn’t even know a Simpsons movie existed. It was banned there not because of content but because of color--red and yellow in combination are associated with rebel groups in the country. 

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Sausage Party

Since it was an animated film, the raunchy, adult comedy Sausage Party was banned in Taiwan because of fears parents would accidentally take their kids to see it. How is bad parenting Sony’s problem?  

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Dr. Strangelove

Dr. Strangelove was one of the best and funniest portrayals of life during the Cold War. Unfortunately, the people of Finland didn’t get to join in on the fun. The movie was banned in the country because it shared a border with the Soviet Union--and the Finns were worried about ruffling their feathers. 

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The Bohemian Girl

If your film is banned by the Nazis, you’re probably doing something right. The Laurel and Hardy movie, The Bohemian Girl, was banned in Nazi Germany because of its positive portrayal of gypsies--a group the Third Reich was looking to exterminate. 

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Bruno

Bruno, the mockumentary following a gay fashionista (portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen), was designed to ruffle feathers. And ruffle feathers it did--especially in Ukraine. The film was banned there for, and I quote, “Unjustified showing of genital organs.” It would be interesting to know what they consider a “justified” showing. 

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2012

If there is a winner for country with the dumbest censorship decisions, it’s North Korea. The (admittedly terrible) apocalyptic film 2012 was banned in the country because the year 2012 marked Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday. 

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They Chose Peace

They Chose Peace was a documentary released in Australia during the Korean war and was promptly banned for not promoting the “good manners and decorum” of the country. So how exactly were the documentary subjects behaving badly? They were advocating for humanitarian efforts over war. 

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Miss Sadie Thompson

If you were a Catholic in the 50s, you probably didn’t watch Miss Sadie Thompson, starring Rita Hayworth. It was deemed inappropriate by the Catholic Film Centre and the devout were banned from viewing it because of its racy content. Oh, if only the Centre could see what’s considered racy today. 

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The Private Life of Don Juan

While Spain gave no official reason for banning the 1934 film The Private Life of Don Juan, it’s pretty easy to infer. Don Juan was an iconic Spanish symbol of romance and masculinity, and they weren’t thrilled that this film portrayed him as feeble and pathetic. 

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The Vanishing Prairie

Even Disney isn’t safe from the censors! The Vanishing Prairie was a Disney documentary about the American prairie and the wildlife it is home to. New York State was having none of this educational nonsense, though. They banned the film for its depiction of a buffalo calf being born--apparently New Yorkers preferred the Stork to deliver babies, human and non-human alike. 

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David and Bathsheba

Gregory Peck starred in this 1951 adaptation of the Bible story of David and Bathsheba. It was banned in Singapore for fears that it would offend Muslim sensibilities--despite the fact that David is a figure within Islam as well.  

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The Halfway House

China might be the country most famous for banning ghost stories, but during World War II, Yugoslavia was a fan of this practice as well. The now-obscure horror movie The Halfway House was banned in the country because it did not educate Yugoslavians in “the real things of life.” 

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A Song is Born

A Song is Born (1948) was banned from public showings in Memphis for both stupid and racist reasons. The stupid reason was this: the movie depicted New Orleans as the home of jazz music, not Memphis. And the racist reason: the movie also depicted black and white people performing together on stage. 

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A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange is quite possibly the only movie ever to be banned by the creator itself. After receiving multiple death threats against his family, Stanley Kubrick asked UK censors to pull the movie from theaters for his safety. 

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Deadpool

Deadpool was a movie designed to offend sensibilities, but apparently the Chinese government was not on board for this. The irreverent superhero film was banned in the country because of its depictions of violence. 

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Monkey Business

The Marx Brothers: classic comedians and...anarchist terrorists? As ridiculous as it sounds, that’s exactly what Irish censors were thinking when they banned their 1931 film Monkey Business. Despite the fact that Ireland is never mentioned and despite the fact that it’s the Marx Brothers (I mean, really!), the country was worried that the movie would promote “anarchic tendencies.” 

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Goldfinger

The James Bond classic Goldfinger was banned in Israel because the movie’s villain was portrayed by Gert Frobe, who was a former member of the Nazi party. While that decision makes sense on paper, what they didn’t realize was that Frobe used his position in the party to help Jews escape the Gestapo. 

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