Scandalous film

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As scandal Movies Movies are referred to a scandal triggered by worried in advance, after their appearance or by an imposed for over them ban on controversial public debates, outrage and protests.

Scandal films and censorship

The scandal is mostly based on a violation of social taboos, which does not necessarily have to be accompanied by a violation of the law. The relationship between scandal and censorship is ambivalent in terms of film history. On the one hand, scandals repeatedly led to film bans, on the other hand, the bans also triggered the scandal in some cases. This interaction is exemplified by the scandal surrounding Lewis Milestone's Remarque film In the West Nothing New , which was temporarily banned after violent protests directed by the National Socialists under the leadership of Joseph Goebbels , which in turn led to massive protests by liberal, social democratic and socialist forces .

The debate about a scandalous film often resulted in a fundamental censorship debate, and the protests were often accompanied by demands for a ban. However, a film ban alone does not lead to a scandalous film as long as the film or its ban does not reach the general public or trigger a public discussion.

Correspondingly, previous censorship and a lack of freedom of expression in totalitarian states generally prevented scandalous films from being made. In some cases, however, unpleasant films that had escaped prior censorship for various reasons were subsequently deliberately scandalized in order to justify a subsequent ban. In the case of Frank Beyer's Trace of Stones , for example , protests ordered by the SED in 1966 resulted in a film ban in the GDR just a few days after the cinema opened.

Scandal issues and historical development

Taboo violations that have been accused of scandal films particularly often in the course of film history are:

  • Blasphemy,
  • indecent depictions of nudity or sexuality, pornography
  • glorifying, or on the contrary: discriminatory portrayal of homosexuality,
  • Pedophilia,
  • excessive, glorifying depictions of violence.

A number of scandal films were each exposed to more than one of these allegations. For example, Virginie Despentes ' Baise-moi (fuck me!) Became a scandal in 2000, both because of its allegedly pornographic scenes and because of its violent portrayals, which many perceived as cynical.

The connection between sexuality and violence and the question of the gender role models that were conveyed through it caused repeated controversy in the course of film history.

In addition to the taboos mentioned, socially controversial or tabooed political or ideological attitudes (nationalism, pacifism, socialism, criticism of socialism, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, etc.) repeatedly led to scandal films.

The taboos that scandal films violated varied depending on the cultural and historical background. For example, in 1919 Richard Oswald's scandalous film, Anders als die Andern, caused a scandal in the Weimar Republic because he advocated the abolition of Section 175 , which made male homosexuality a criminal offense. In 1992, however, it was gay and lesbian groups in the USA who tried to hinder the filming of Paul Verhoeven's Basic Instinct because they feared that the erotic thriller about a bisexual murderer would put homosexuals in a negative light.

The scandal surrounding Willi Forst's Die Sünderin was so lasting in 1951 that the film in the exhibition “Scandals in Germany after 1945” in the House of History in Bonn in 2007/08 was the only film to be counted among the twenty biggest scandals in post-war German history. Contrary to what is often rumored, it was not the bare bosom of the leading actress Hildegard Knef that caused this scandal. Rather, the film found itself exposed to allegations of playing down prostitution, euthanasia and suicide. In the meantime, the film released by the FSK in 1951 amid massive protests “from 18”, which persuaded the representatives of the official churches to withdraw from the bodies of the FSK, is free “from 12”.

The two Swedish films Das Schweigen (1963) by Ingmar Bergman and 491 (1964) by Vilgot Sjöman provoked massive protests in the 1960s because of allegedly pornographic representations and led to the establishment of the Clean screen campaign .

In the early 1970s, Rosa von Praunheim sparked a controversial debate within the gay scene with his film essay Not the homosexual is perverse, but rather the situation in which he lives (1971) and thus provided the impetus for the establishment of the West German gay movement. When the film was shown on ARD in 1973, Bayerischer Rundfunk ignored the joint ARD program.

In the 1970s, a number of films with sado-masochistic elements caused international film scandals. Bernardo Bertolucci's erotic drama The Last Tango in Paris was extremely controversial in 1972 and came under criticism not only because of its permissive sexual representations. In Italy, the film was temporarily confiscated across the country, and in France there were isolated performance bans. Feminists have criticized what they consider to be the chauvinist role model that the film promotes. Just Jaeckin's film adaptation of The Story of O was faced with similar accusations in 1975 . In several German cities, groups of women disrupted screenings of the film. In Berlin they threw "paint eggs, stink bombs, spilled butyric acid or pissed on the cinema seats".

In 1975, German public prosecutors targeted Pier Paolo Pasolini's de Sade film The 120 Days of Sodom and in 1976 Nagisa Ōshima's In the Realm of the Senses , which triggered a public debate about the border between art and pornography and thus preoccupied the German courts. It is true that the courts ultimately acquitted both films of the charge of pornography by emphasizing the artistic character of the films. Nevertheless, the 120 days of Sodom was indexed in 1987 by the “Federal Testing Office for Writings Harmful to Young People”.

Monty Python's 1979 comedy The Life of Brian has often been judged to be blasphemous, far from the real content of the film. The various church organizations disagreed on this, however, and many took a markedly liberal stance. Precisely because of the different ways of approaching the film, it is even shown in religious education today.

In 1982 Herbert Achternbusch's Das Gespenst turned into a scandal when the then Federal Minister of the Interior Friedrich Zimmermann (CSU) subsequently canceled the film funding for the Bavarian filmmaker on charges of blasphemy and refused to pay out the outstanding installment of 75,000 marks.

Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ was also criticized as blasphemous in 1988 . The Vatican called for a boycott of the film and even before the German theatrical release hundreds of outraged believers tried to get the film banned in letters of protest to the FSK and the FBW film evaluation unit . Protests were sometimes violent around the world. An arson attack was carried out on a Parisian cinema, and militant Christians used tear gas and stink bomb attacks to prevent the film from being shown.

In 2004 a Jesus film caused another scandal with Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ . The film was accused of its explicit depictions of violence and allegedly anti-Semitic tendencies.

Lars von Trier's drama Antichrist received heavy reviews when it was presented in Cannes because of the pornographic and violence-glorifying scenes. The film has also been viewed by some critics as extremely misogynistic.

In 2006, the Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber (CSU) called on the cinema operators in Bild am Sonntag to discontinue the Turkish feature film Valley of the Wolves - Iraq , as it was a "racist and anti-Western hate film".

Overall, the history of scandal films in Western culture cannot be read as a story of linear taboo removal. For example, the boundaries in the area of ​​“immoral representations” in the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s were sometimes drawn closer than they were in the Weimar Republic. In addition, new taboos (e.g. “sexism”, “discrimination against minorities”) kept coming alongside the old taboos that still existed.

In some cases, it was the scandal that gave the film the attention it needed to become a commercial success. For this reason, films are occasionally stylized as scandalous films for marketing reasons.

See also


  • Michael Braun (Ed.): Taboo and breaking taboos in literature and film . Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2007. ISBN 978-3-8260-3341-4
  • Kai Nowak: Projections of Morals. Film scandals in the Weimar Republic . Wallstein, Göttingen 2015. ISBN 978-3-8353-1703-1
  • Amos Vogel: Film as a subversive art . Hannibal Verlag, St. Andrä-Wölker 1997. ISBN 978-3-85445-137-2
  • Stefan Volk: Scandal films - cineastic excitement yesterday and today . Schüren Verlag, Marburg 2011. ISBN 978-3-89472-562-4
  • Paul Werner: The scandal chronicle of the German film. Volume 1: From 1900 to 1945 . FfM: Fischer Taschenbuch 1990. ISBN 978-3-596-24471-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Kai Nowak: Projections of Morals. Film scandals in the Weimar Republic . Göttingen 2015, pp. 265-302; Stefan Volk: Scandal films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 16-18 and 55-70 .
  2. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 11-13 .
  3. Ingrid Poss, Peter Warnecke (ed.): Trace of films . Berlin 2006, p. 145-150 .
  4. See: Dawn B. Sova: Forbidden Films . New York 2001.
  5. Johannes Wetzel: The censorship and the art porn film . In: Berliner Zeitung . July 7, 2000.
  6. Kai Nowak: Projections of Morals. Film scandals in the Weimar Republic . Göttingen 2015, pp. 96–128; James Steakley: Different from the others . Hamburg 2007.
  7. See: David J. Fox, Donna Rosenthal: Gays Bashing 'Basic Instinct' . In: Los Angeles Times . April 29, 1991.
  8. Cf.: Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 91-99 .
  9. See also: Kirsten Burghardt: Werk, Scandal, Exempel. Breaking taboos through fictional models: Willi Forst's 'The Sinner' . Munich 1996.
  10. Gert H. Theunissen: The silence and its audience. A documentation. Cologne 1964.
  11. Cf.: Rosa von Praunheim: It is not the homosexual who is perverse, but the situation in which he lives . Berlin 2006.
  12. Florian Hopf: Everything about: The last tango in Paris . Munich. 1973, p. 27 f. + S. 78-83 .
  13. Cf.: Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 175 .
  14. Cf.: Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 190-205 .
  15. Cf.: “Revolting, Säuisch.”: In: Der Spiegel , No. 19 . May 9, 1983.
  16. Jürgen Kniep: “No youth release!” Film censorship in West Germany 1949-1990 . Göttingen 2010, p. 330 f .
  17. Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 231 .
  18. image online
  19. Cf.: Stefan Volk: Scandal Films. Cinematic excitement yesterday and today . Marburg 2011, p. 301-304 .