A collection of the bold and the banned; causes célèbre and succès de scandale to incite, provoke and arouse.
Any history of cinematic controversy in the UK is necessarily a history of our country’s censorship and the evolving vagaries of the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification). Most of these films have fallen foul of the censors at some point, but thankfully they’re now all restored to their once incendiary glories.
Drama199998 minsDirector: Catherine Breillat
Shockingly explicit, Catherine Breillat’s critically acclaimed Romance is one of the most controversial films of modern cinema.
Drama2013118 minsDirector: Lars von Trier
Volume 1 of Lars von Trier’s explicit, controversial film about a woman recounting the history of her sexuality in episodic style.
Crime199296 minsDirector: Abel Ferrara
Abel Ferrara's disturbing character study of a corrupt N.Y.C. cop and his slide into insanity, starring Harvey Keitel in a career-best performance.
Drama1996100 minsDirector: David Cronenberg
Technology and sexuality meet in head-on collision in David Cronenberg’s controversial adaptation of writer J.G. Ballard’s hugely transgressive 1973 novel, starring James Spader and Holly Hunter.
Drama2002121 minsDirector: Olivier Assayas
Olivier Assayas' neo-noir cyber-thriller is a chilling exploration of the nexus between sex and violence available at the click of a button.
Drama1973119 minsDirector: Liliana Cavani
Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling star in this controversial story of the profoundly disturbing relationship between a former SS officer a concentration camp survivor.
Drama2014132 minsDirector: Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
A new arrival at a school for young deaf people is drawn into a nightmarish world of crime and brutality, in this audacious and acclaimed modern classic told in unsubtitled sign.
Drama2019169 minsDirector: Vaclav Marhoul
Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s 1965 novel and a long time in the making, Václav Marhoul’s extraordinary The Painted Bird finds a lone Jewish boy on a dark odyssey towards home during wartime.
Drama196898 minsDirector: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Pasolini’s classic about a handsome, enigmatic stranger (Terence Stamp) who arrives at a bourgeois household and seduces an entire family.
Drama1976105 minsDirector: Lewis John Carlino
When an English widow, Anne (Sarah Miles, Ryan’s Daughter) falls in love with a dashing American sailor (singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson), her jealous teenage son goes to horrific lengths to restore the status quo.
Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.
Drama1976113 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder
Gerard Depardieu plays the young innocent who falls for the mysterious maitresse Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a leather clad dominatrix, in Barbet Schroeder’s controversial film.
Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.
Comedy199495 minsDirector: David O. Russell
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) made his feature debut in 1994 with this biting black comedy, which caused a stir with its incestuous subplot and portrayal of adolescent restlessness.
Drama1969116 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder
The first feature by Barbet Schroeder (Maîtresse, The Valley), More created a sensation when it was released in 1969, quickly becoming a cult classic and famed for its Pink Floyd soundtrack.
Drama198920 minsDirector: Nigel Wingrove
Nigel Wingrove's experimental depiction of the erotic imaginings of the 16th Century Carmelite nun remains the only film ever to banned under Britain's blasphemy laws.
Drama199792 minsDirector: Lavinia Currier
Based on a story by Honoré de Balzac, a young Napoleonic soldier (Ben Daniels, Benediction) forms an intense attachment with a wild leopard in Lavinia Currier’s feature film debut.
Drama1976133 minsDirector: Tinto Brass
Before Caligula, Italian provocateur Tinto Brass directed this controversial and transgressive drama, inspired by the true story of a Nazi-run brothel in 30s Berlin.
Horror197483 minsDirector: Tobe Hooper
Unrivalled in its relentless vision of pure terror, Tobe Hooper’s horror masterpiece remains as brutal and horrific as it ever was.