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Added by moviebuff on 15 Jul 2013 03:55
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thescriptlab's Top 10 Most Controversial Films

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I am a self-confessed classic film fanatic, and to me, this film is and always will be the most controversial film of all time. When released in 1915, it was considered deplorably racist, and the use of blacked up white actors did not help matters at all. In fact, the critics slammed it so much that DW Griffith made the 1916 film Intolerance as a response to them.

The film itself is well written, tightly directed and overall a masterpiece. It’s regarded as the first proper feature film in history, and it is a true piece of art...if you discount the racism. And it’s hard to do that.

With the film industry still in its infancy, and the boundaries of taste within the medium still being explored, this was the first and foremost encounter with controversy that film had. And with a subject that wasn't half as sensitive an issue as it is today, it really shows how even after all these years Birth of a Nation is simply the most controversial film of all time.

This is, I understand, an ironically controversial decision, but I feel that it is the right one. And if you watch it today and feel even mildly shocked by what you see, then you will also realise that winding back nearly a century, audiences would have been outraged. This is my most controversial film of all time, because its notoriety has spanned nearly a century. And that, in my books, makes it a worthy winner.
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Maybe it’s the documentary style of this movie that causes such a stir. Or maybe it’s the savage mutilation of humans and animals. Maybe it’s the actual footage of execution. Or all of the above.

As I am sure you are coming to realize, Cannibal Holocaust is a film that is not for the faint hearted. The clever integration of documentary style within the piece allows the audience to experience the horrors in a strange context of realism, and it makes for interesting (if harrowing) viewing.

The controversy surrounding this film is huge. When it was released, the director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for murder and the movie was confiscated. If anything, that is testament to the quality of the footage created. The actors, who all had signed contracts saying they would not appear in the press for over a month after the release of the movie to perpetrate the idea they really were killed, had to then appear in court and re-enact some of the more bloodthirsty scenes in order to spare Deodato a lengthy jail sentence. I mean wow. Just...wow.

Real executions do appear within the film ironically, from borrowed footage. Another non-simulated aspect is the animal cruelty which again landed the film in hot water, especially when it was discovered that several takes had been done on the mutilation of an ape meaning that more than one had been killed simply because the director wanted it from another angle.

The film’s moral standpoint is that there is a small step between civilized society and primitive behavior, and extreme circumstances push that relationship to a breaking point. This is a film I get, and because I get it, I am willing to forgive more of the unwaveringly graphic violence, but there is no doubt that it has earned its place high up on this list as an exceptionally controversial film.
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People who added this item 586 Average listal rating (334 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.2
Another entry from this century that still manages to shock, A Serbian Film deals unforgivingly and graphically with the relationship between art and taste. The story centres on Milos, a semi-retired porn star, who is offered a role in an art film and accepts to secure his family’s financial future. The horrors that await him are beyond his (and the audience’s) imagination.

Not only is child abuse and child pornography used within this movie, but also the horrific idea of ‘newborn porn’is depicted, and a scene later in the film shows a five year old boy getting raped by his father. This obviously caused a bit of a stir when it was released to say the least.

The message I got from the film was a statement questioning how far will people go for art and how far can someone be pushed for his family. The thing is, in the case of this film, it seems the pursuit of art has gone too far. The horrendous acts are only glorified by the antagonists of the film, the art film director and crew, but it still feels very wrong watching the action play out on screen, and some of the scenes towards the end (without wishing to ruin it for you lovely people with unspoiled minds) really do physically sicken me.

This movie according to the director is a big metaphor about how the Serbian government hypnotises people into doing their bidding. When Milos is drugged and then forced to take part in the awful act of sodomy, it is all a political statement. Well, it made a statement alright. And it certainly deserves a high place on this list.

Having watched it, and thought about it, personally I think the director needs to talk to a professional. Or move out of Serbia.
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Set in the future, we follow a gang of misguided youths in this movie, who rape and pillage the local area every evening. Alex, the protagonist, ends up in prison after preventing a gang uprising and is subjected to ‘therapy’, a type of Pavlovian Classical Conditioning, which manifests in psychological torture. He leaves prison, with only his body conditioned to hate violence even though his mind still desires the ultra-violent acts of rape and murder, leaving us with this thematic question: “Is it better to choose ‘the bad’, retaining our free and violent will, or have ‘the good’ imposed upon us, to be determined by the state?”

This is a film that I very much enjoy, and as a fan of Kubrick I cannot help but admire his meticulous direction and the beautiful dream like cinematography. However, that does not get away from the fact that a character you cannot help but like is raping people casually and on a regular basis, making the morals exceptionally skewed when you end up rooting for him in prison.

The casual rape in this files deplorable, but it is the copycat killings and rapes that set it up to be so controversial. Kubrick pulled it from the UK himself and it was not available until 2000, due to the copycat killing reports. Other films fall into this category too, such as Natural Born Killers and Child's Play 3. Even The Matrix is said to have inspired the Columbine shootings. The issue is that of likeable villainous protagonists. Calling them anti-heroes would still be far too kind; these characters are evil and yet somehow inexplicably likeable. This is seen as a potentially dangerous combination and as a result movies that use them in such extremes as NBK and A Clockwork Orange are no doubt controversial.

Despite all this, it cannot be denied that the horrific crimes of Alex and his subsequent torture therapy are deeply disturbing to view, and the chronology of events makes the viewer sympathise with the rapist, which is never a good precedent to set. This movie has certainly earned its place on my list.
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Set in the Nazi controlled state of Salòin 1944, this movie focuses on four wealthy, corrupted fascist libertines. The libertines kidnap eighteen teenage boys and girls and subject them to four months of extreme violence, sadism, and sexual and mental torture.

The film is noted for exploring the themes of political corruption, abuse of power, sadism, perversion, sexuality and fascism. It was the political element that really set off the press, however, the graphic violence and torture, horrendous enough in of itself, was contextualised in politics. And that makes this film a whole new kind of statement.

So much in fact, that this movie remains banned in several countries to this day. Not only that, but the torturing of characters considered to be under 18 makes every horror magnified throughout, further emphasising the corruption and heightening the negative political message.

Several actors and directors including Martin Scorsese praise the film as a highly artistic piece, but the political threads and the graphic sodomy are hard to ignore. Personally? I like a film that makes a statement, and this certainly does that, but rather than poking film critics with a stick, this one pokes at high power dangerous political movements.

Director Pier Paolo Pasolini was tragically murdered before the premiere of his creation. Speculation says it was a politically motivated homicide. Who knows? All I can say is that after watching this movie, I get the feeling many enemies could be made with it.
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People who added this item 3956 Average listal rating (2522 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8
Religious controversy had to make an appearance in here somewhere, and what better example than The Exorcist. The tale of a young girl’s possession by a demonic spirit is an intriguing tale and a worthy story to be enthralled by.

However, the (supposed) use of subliminal imagining throughout the film, along with the use of such a young actress in the challenging lead role, led to major controversy regarding its release. Ambulances were allegedly stationed outside cinemas for the fainters, and it landed a place on the notorious ‘video nasties’list in the late 80s and 90s in Britain.

The Exorcistis a little different to many on this list because the story is actually engaging, and there is little shock for that sake of it. I would go as far as to say it is potentially enjoyable. But the one scene that kills it for me is that of the crucifix masturbation. The same subject was breached a few years earlier in the film The Devils, and I get that it fits with what is happening to the protagonist, but to have a young girl do that with that...well it’s the controversial equivalent of a home run.

Because of this, it makes the list, though many worthy contenders such as Da Vinci Code, Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ were considered. What sets this film apart is the nature of the film rather than the religious aspect. Many films build on religion as a basis, as they do science, hence the whole genre of science fiction, and all of them may be considered controversial because of this. The Exorcist wins a place because of a young girl, a crucifix, hidden images, and a whole lot of film nasty.
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This movie’s infamy has spread and the name has become synonymous with filth on film. The first instalment of The Human Centipede was bad enough, but director Tom Six stated the sequel was designed to make the first look like ‘My Little Pony compared with part two”.

And my God. Wow. I mean. After enduring, sorry, watching the sadistic pleasures of protagonist (in the loosest sense of the word) Martin, I emerged the other side with only one word in my head. Why? This is a feature length graphic (sorry, GRAPHIC) depiction of coprophagia, rape, horrendous torture, and to top it all off, grossly inaccurate medical procedures. I mean please. The first film at least had a little artistry involved. This sequel movie is a prime example of poking the ratings boards with a stick and revelling in the media outrage it provokes when a ban is issued. Which is exactly what the BBFC initially did.

It does have its slightly redeeming features. I mean, the character of Martin is an interesting and eerily sinister creation that really adds to the horror being portrayed, and the copycat murderer trait really shines through. His lack of dialogue only enhances this, and leaves me feeling intrigued about him. That is, whenever I’m trying not to be sick at what he is doing.

A third instalment is in the pipeline for The Human Centipede collection, and the level of disgusting imagery is only going to increase. But if you fancy chilling out on a Friday night to the tune of a man who enjoys masturbating with sandpaper before sewing people rear to mouth for social and sexual gratification, then this film is for you, my twisted friend.
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People who added this item 480 Average listal rating (275 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 5.7
Rape and revenge, anyone? Why not. What better way to spend your Sunday evening eh?

I Spit on your Graveis the heart wrenching sordid tale of a woman's ordeal of gang rape, and her dealing with it through vengeful torturous murder. Apparently inspired by a real life rape story, this movie boasts the longest rape scene in cinema at 25 minutes long. What a claim.

You can argue that story is either feministic or just plain sordid pornography. Once again, I give credit to the acting and the plot progression for making the movie engaging for the parts you are not grimacing or closing your eyes and sticking your fingers in your ears. The real controversy, however, was that of the unwaveringly graphic violence, to the point where many felt that the film revelled in it rather than displaying it as an antagonistic act. There is no doubt that this film is influential, and the 2010 remake only heightens the violence and torture that poor protagonist Jenny must endure.

The poster at the time of the 1978 movie’s release stated ‘no jury in America would ever convict her’. That’s just not true. Murder is a crime, as rape is, and advertising the ‘eye for an eye’approach is a controversial subject matter to consider, not to mention the infamous rape sequence.

This makes the list because of the length and nature of that rape scene, along with the psychotic actions of Jenny after her ordeal that lead her to murder. A psychologically interesting and graphically disturbing film.
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This may seem like a strange entry, but in the interests of variety and personal enjoyment, I have included it, along with the fact that it set a precedent for all films, art and media around today.

How? I hear you ask. Well, Ben Hur, a 1907 silent film short (not to be confused with the Charlton Heston 1959 Ben-Hur classic) was the subject of the first ever film copyright infringement case. Prior to this film, films could and did use whatever inspiration and materials they wanted. However, after this 1907 release, the Wallace estate took up a case against the film studio, claiming ownership. It wasn't for the money (of course), rather the plaintiff felt the depiction in the silent 15 minute piece degraded the quality of the original novel. The film studio lost, and since then film rights must be obtained before a screenplay is commissioned. Not only that, but copyright on downloaded music, films, TV shows, books and so much more all comes down to this case. This film may not be controversial simply in terms of its content, but the issue of its production has resulted in the media industry as it is today.

As a silent short it’s well worth a watch, and displays the early methods of adapting other media for film. Looking at the original source material and picking out the visually exciting scenes to suit and enthral the cinematic audience is the root of what adapting for film is all about, and this is a great example. And setting up copyright law by breaking it? A pretty worthy contender I feel.
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People who added this item 1570 Average listal rating (879 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.6
For a film to shock in the twenty first century, there must be something pretty special about it. Antichrist managed this at Cannes in 2009. The candid and frank depiction of grief following the death of a child whilst his parents were having sex is extreme, horrendously graphic and unforgiving. The spiralling depression of the female character known only as 'Her' takes a violent toll on 'Him', with graphic depictions of her drilling into his leg, hitting his genitals so hard that he falls into a coma, and eventually in various horrific scenes hacking off his penis before cutting off her own genitals with a scissors.

Antichristwent on to win an award at Cannes, but the reaction to it was far from positive. And it’s easy to see why. The opening scene is that of sex. Real sex, mind you, none of that simulated stuff you see in other films. The shots of torture are frank and pull no punches. And during the ‘him’genital torture scenes...well, I’m a woman, and I still cringed and winced and shielded my crotch from the horror.

Critic Roger Ebert frequently described this as the worst film ever made, and four people fainted whilst watching it. One woman even claimed she had a miscarriage as a result of watching it. As for me, I find it an interesting depiction of the toll depression takes on a couple and....I find it almost unbearable to watch. It’s testament to the acting and story I suppose, but the torture pushes the line of masochism, and taste. This is a film to kill libido and no mistake.
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