'Lightyear' and other films banned
The new Pixar movie "Lightyear" has just been banned in several Arab countries. A look at film censorship worldwide, beyond the Middle East.
'Lightyear' banned over lesbian kiss
Pixar's latest animated blockbuster, "Lightyear," has been banned in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Muslim countries, as the film features a lesbian kissing scene. Beyond this latest case in the Middle East, many other countries have censored scenes or entire films in the past.
Disney's self-censorship attempt
Pixar's parent company, Disney, tried to remove the kiss between astronaut Alisha (right) and another female character in the film. But the scene was kept in the end, following Pixar employees' protests. The UAE had recently announced it would no longer censor international films, but "Lightyear" was still banned. The country criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults.
'Fantastic Beasts 3' modified for China
China also censors homosexuality in films. The most recent prominent example came with the release of "Fantastic Beasts 3: The Secrets of Dumbledore," which reveals a past romantic relationship between Albus Dumbledore and villain Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen, left). To satisfy Chinese authorities, US studio Warner Bros. removed two lines of dialogue referring to their love story.
'Bohemian Rhapsody' without gay references
In China, the biopic about Queen singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) lacked all scenes that even hint at the homosexuality of the rock icon — including parts that were essential to the storyline, such as Mercury's coming out or his AIDS diagnosis. Reactions were mixed; many were glad the film was released in China at all.
Not all stories can be modified
Films like the multi-Oscar-winning drama "Brokeback Mountain" (2005), a love story between two cowboys starring Jake Gyllenhaal (left) and Heath Ledger (right), weren't publicly screened in China at all. The 2019 Elton John biopic "Rocketman" was also completely banned in the country. The British singer has openly acknowledged his homosexuality for decades.
'Seven Years in Tibet': China bans Brad Pitt
China's oppressed minorities, such as the Tibetans, are also a red flag for censorship. "Seven Years in Tibet" (1997) tells the story of the friendship between the Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt, right) and the Dalai Lama. The film was not only banned, but all other movies starring Brad Pitt are not allowed to be shown in China.
A different 'Rocketman' in Russia
Homosexual scenes are also removed from films in Russia, including from "Rocketman" (2019). Elton John (pictured) protested loudly against the cuts in his biopic and accused Moscow of censorship. Although sexual activity between people of the same sex is legal in the country, "homosexual propaganda" is illegal and hate crimes against LGBTQ people are widespread.
Bans in Germany: Peter Jackson's 'Braindead'
State film censorship does not only happen in authoritarian countries. In Germany, too, numerous films have landed on the index for inciting violence, racial hatred or glorifying National Socialism. Even the cult horror film "Braindead" by "Lord of the Rings" director Peter Jackson (pictured) is banned in Germany because of its depictions of gory violence.