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Controversial Classics

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.

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La Grande Bouffe
La Grande Bouffe
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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.

The Beast
The Beast
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The Beast

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.

Spanking the Monkey
Spanking the Monkey
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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.

Immoral Tales
Immoral Tales
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Immoral Tales

Anthology1974103 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk

Walerian Borowczyk presents four stories of sexual taboos throughout the ages, in his highly controversial classic of 1970s erotic cinema.

Amores perros
Amores perros
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Amores perros

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.

Of Good Report
Of Good Report
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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.

Bad Timing
Bad Timing
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Bad Timing

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.

Peeping Tom
Peeping Tom
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Peeping Tom

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
The Mask of Satan
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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.

Theorem
Theorem
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Theorem

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.

L'Age D'Or
L'Age D'Or
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L'Age D'Or

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.

More
More
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More

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.

City of the Living Dead
City of the Living Dead
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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.

Trans-Europ-Express
Trans-Europ-Express
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Trans-Europ-Express

Thriller196695 minsDirector: Alain Robbe-Grillet

This stylish, cult 1966 erotic thriller stars French New Wave icons Jean-Louis Trintigant and Marie-France Pisier.

Battleship Potemkin
Battleship Potemkin
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Battleship Potemkin

Historical drama192569 minsDirector: 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.

Maitresse
Maitresse
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Maitresse

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
The Black Panther
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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.

Captured
Captured
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Captured

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
Visions of Ecstasy
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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
Un Chien Andalou
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Un Chien Andalou

Animation & Artists Moving Image192816 minsDirector: 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
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
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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
The Birth of a Nation
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The Birth of a Nation

Historical drama1915191 minsDirector: 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
Within Our Gates
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Within Our Gates

Drama191974 minsDirector: 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.

Skinflicker
Skinflicker
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Skinflicker

Drama197241 minsDirector: 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
Wake in Fright
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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.

The Beyond
The Beyond
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The Beyond

Horror198184 minsDirector: Lucio Fulci

Lucio Fulci's Italian zombie-horror classic about a New Orleans hotel built upon one of the seven gateways to Hell.