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.
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.
Spanking the Monkey
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.
Drama2000148 minsDirector: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Alejandro González Iñárritu's (Birdman, The Revenant) gripping debut feature is a savagely brilliant triptych around the theme of animalistic desires.
1980122 minsDirector: Nicolas Roeg
Nic Roeg's complex, elusive cult classic is a Vienna-set tale of all consuming passion, starring Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell and Harvey Keitel.
Drama1960101 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Michael Powell’s dark, disturbing, once controversial tale of a shy camera technician who films women as he kills them is now rightly deemed a classic
The Mask of Satan
Horror196086 minsDirector: Mario Bava
Italian horror classic from acclaimed Italian horror auteur Mario Bava, about a beautiful witch Asa (Barbara Steele) who rises from her grave to take revenge upon her enemies.
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.
Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet
This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.
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.
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.
Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.
City of the Living Dead
Horror198093 minsDirector: Lucio Fulci
Lucio Fulci’s sensationally gory zombie horror finds undead hordes overtaking a sleepy New England town, with only a reporter and a local psychic to stop them.
Of Good Report
Drama2013110 minsDirector: Jahmil Xolani Thandikhaya Qubeka
Disturbing but deeply stylish South African drama about a teacher who becomes obsessed with an under-age pupil in his class, with tragic consequences.
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.
1976113 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.
The Black Panther
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.
War195964 minsDirector: John Krish
Previously only shown to a restricted audience of top military brass from the Ministry of Defence, Captured is a stunning Prisoner of War drama.
Visions of Ecstasy
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.
Un Chien Andalou
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.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
War1943164 minsDirector: Michael Powell
Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece follows the rise and fall of a career soldier, from dashing and brave young officer in the Boer War to a pompous and old-fashioned Colonel by the time of World War Two.
The Birth of a Nation
Historical drama1915191 minsSilentDirector: D.W. Griffith
D W Griffith's highly controversial, yet extremely significant American silent epic about the American Civil War and its aftermath.
Within Our Gates
Drama191974 minsSilentDirector: Oscar Micheaux
Oscar Micheaux’s startling silent classic – the earliest surviving feature from an African-American director – presents a fascinating black counterpoint to Griffith’s Birth of a Nation.
Drama197241 minsSilentDirector: Tony Bicât
Tony Bicât’s radical, found-footage record of a revolutionary act, in which three dissidents kidnap a cabinet and torture a cabinet minister.
Wake in Fright
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.
Comedy197598 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
An outrageous classic of erotic cinema, Walerian Borowczyk’s playful and subversive fantasy finds a horny heiress courting the ravenous desires of a wild beast.
La Grande Bouffe
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.
Comedy2008237 minsDirector: Sion Sono
Japanese cinema's enfant terrible, Sion Sono, unleashes this demented, whirlwind tale of cults, love, violence and perversion.