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.
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.
Horror2009104 minsDirector: Lars von Trier
After tragedy strikes, a couple retreat to a cabin in the woods in order to grieve. However, they find things go from bad to worse, in this brutal interrogation of nature from Lars von Trier.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Drama1971109 minsDirector: Ted Kotcheff
In this classic, broiling Australian thriller, an exasperated schoolteacher finds himself stranded in the dusty outback town of Bundanyabba, where the growing isolation and unhinged locals begin to eat away at his sanity.
Horror197992 minsDirector: David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg’s highly disturbing horror about a woman who’s able to externalise her inner torment and manifest it into a brood of killer offspring.
Police drama197691 minsDirector: John Carpenter
Besieged in an abandoned police station, a lone cop and his skeleton staff recruit a condemned killer from the cells in a desperate battle to survive the night, in John Carpenter's brutal and unrelenting cult classic.
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.
Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.
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.
Drama199998 minsDirector: Catherine Breillat
Shockingly explicit, Catherine Breillat’s critically acclaimed Romance is one of the most controversial films of modern cinema.
Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.
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.
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.
Comedy1973130 minsDirector: Marco Ferreri
Marco Ferreri's provocative and controversial satire about four friends who retreat to a country mansion with the intention of eating themselves to death.
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.
Animation & Artists Moving Image193063 minsDirector: Luis Buñuel
Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali unite for this masterpiece of cinematic surrealism remains as brilliantly witty and shocking as ever, more than 80 years on.
Animation & Artists Moving Image192816 minsSilentDirector: Luis Buñuel
A scabrous study of desire, the subconscious and anti-clericalism - Buñuel and Dalí’s provocative first film is a classic of Surrealist cinema.
Historical drama192569 minsSilentDirector: Sergei M. Eisenstein
A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content.
Comedy2008237 minsDirector: Sion Sono
Japanese cinema's enfant terrible, Sion Sono, unleashes this demented, whirlwind tale of cults, love, violence and perversion.
Drama197797 minsDirector: Ian Merrick
Gripping crime drama charts the killing spree which Donald Neilson, aka the Black Panther, perpetrated across England during the mid-70s.