The Top Ten Films of Controversy

Written by James MacGregor on . Posted in Film industry


Salo - controversial shocker depicts torture and maimingAmong the nation's top ten shockers are scenes of torture and necrophilia and a film accused of blasphemy, that featured a very naughty boy rather than a messiah. The films all feature in Time Out's film guide 1,000 Films That Changed Your Life, due to be published this week.

David Cronenberg's Crash 

The list is headed by Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom, which draws on the Marquis de Sade novel, depicting the dark days of Italian fascism's demise, when four officials inflict revolting sexual, physical and psychological violence on nine kidnapped teenagers.

It was seen as outrageous when it was released in 1975, and has been a challenge for film certification boards ever since. In 1977, the first cinema in Britain to screen it uncut was raided by police. It has now been reclassified by the British Board of Film Classification who agreed it illustrates the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Salò was directed by the notorious Italian poet, novelist, painter and film-maker Pier Paolo Pasolini. He was murdered before it was released.

Monty Python's Life of Brian - controversial comedyOther films on the list include Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ and David Cronenberg's Crash, which was banned in 1996 by several local authorities in Britain.

The oldest film on the list is Birth of a Nation, directed by DW Griffith in 1915. Griffith said he was not racist, but the movie presents unmistakeably racist portrayals of black Americans and recently it has been used recruitment agent for the Ku Klux Klan.

Briton Terry Jones stands out most prominently among the top ten list of death, horror, sexual perversion and violence. Ironically, he is the sole director to make the controversial list with comedy, earned for his 1979 movie Monty Python's Life of Brian, which got him ninth place. Christian groups said the satire was blasphemous. In the film, the mother of the reluctant saviour insists: "He's not the messiah; he's a very naughty boy."

Most controversial

1 Salò (1975) Pier Paolo Pasolini

2 Natural Born Killers (1994) Oliver Stone

3 Crash (1996) David Cronenberg

4 The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Martin Scorsese

5 The Devils (1971) Ken Russell

6 Pretty Baby (1977) Louis Malle

7 Birth of a Nation (1915) DW Griffith

8 Straw Dogs (1971) Sam Peckinpah

9 Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) Terry Jones

10 Bandit Queen (1994) Shekhar Kapur