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"Blasphemous" Films


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Here are a few films that caused an uproar for "blasphemy":


Viridiana (1961) - a 1961 film directed by Luis Bu?uel and produced in Spain by Gustavo Alatriste. It is about a well-meaning young nun who tries unsuccessfully to help the poor. Censored and banned by the Francoist authorities, this anticlerical film was acclaimed at Cannes, winning a Palme D'Or. Bu?uel himself said that "I didn?t deliberately set out to be blasphemous, but then Pope John XXIII is a better judge of such things than I am." Viridiana was the first feature film Bu?uel ever made in his native Spain. After the film was completed and sent to the Cannes Film Festival, the government of Francisco Franco tried unsuccessfully to have the film withdrawn, and banned its release in Spain. The film was only released there in 1977, when Bunuel was seventy-seven years old. This film was also condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency. It was voted best Spanish film by professionals and critics in a 1996 Spanish cinema centenary.


Him (1974) - an explicit film made for gay audiences, about a young man's erotic fixation with the life of Jesus. This film is now lost.


Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) - a 1979 comedy film written and performed by the Monty Python comedy team. It tells the story of Brian Cohen (played by Graham Chapman), a young man born at the same time as Jesus Christ, who is mistaken for the Messiah. Roundly condemned for its "blasphemous" and "vulgar" content when it was originally released, the movie portrays Jesus as a fool, who, among other things, has sex. Mary is played by a man and uses foul language. It is indicated that Jesus was the product of a rape. The Crucifixion is shown as a big finale, complete with joyful singing. This is now considered to be one of the funniest movies ever made. The film was controversial due to its combination of comedy and religious themes. However, it has also been very popular with viewers: in 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted it the greatest comedy film of all time; in 2004, the same magazine named it the 5th greatest British film of all time; in 2006, it was voted the best comedy movie of all time on two separate polls conducted by the British TV channels Channel 4 and Five.


The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - a 1988 film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the controversial 1951 novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis. The film contains many ideas not present in the Scriptures. This is seen as a point of contention despite the film opening with a disclaimer stating that it is 'not based on the gospels' and is 'fictional'. The main source of controversy stems from a scene near the end of the movie in which Jesus is depicted as marrying Mary Magdalene instead of dying on the cross. A brief scene of the married couple making love is shown in the film, which sparked the anger of many protesters. The rationale behind this scene is that it represents Satan's tempting of Christ with the life of a normal man, free from the burden of being crucified and of being the salvation of mankind. In the guise of a beautiful, angelic child, Satan deceptively brings Christ down from the cross and gives him the life he has desired, telling him he is in fact not the Messiah, and doesn't have to die. Under Satan?s sham, Jesus marries and raises a family. However, as he is nearing the end of his envisioned life, his most devoted disciple, Judas Iscariot, awakens him to the truth of what is happening. As Judas calls him a traitor, Jesus finally realizes he has abandoned his duty to be crucified and to be the salvation of mankind. Seeing that he has been tempted into living a man?s life and dying a peaceful death, Jesus crawls out into the streets of Jerusalem as it burns with the fires of the Jewish Rebellion, and begs God to return him to his crucifixion, finally rejecting Satan?s offering. At that point, he is returned to the cross. Jesus has now been tempted as a man, and having survived this temptation utters his dying words, "It is accomplished." Other controversial ideas include images of Jesus constructing crosses for the Romans, kissing other men on the lips, being tormented by the voice of God, and using the divine name in the form "Jehovah". Protests against the movie from religious communities began before the film had even finished production. The studio was expecting a backlash due to the controversies revolving around any media treatment of Christ, but the protests accompanying Last Temptation were unprecedented. Major religious leaders in the United States blasted the film in fiery sermons, and condemned its subject matter as pornographic. On October 22, 1988, a French Catholic fundamentalist group launched molotov cocktails inside the Parisian Saint Michel movie theater to protest against the film. This terrorist attack injured thirteen people, four of whom were severely burned. In 1991, Albuquerque high school teacher, Joyce Briscoe, showed the film to gifted history students at La Cueva High School, raising a storm of controversy by parents and local Christian broadcaster KLYT. In some countries, including Mexico and Chile, the film was not released for several years.


Visions of Ecstasy (1989) - a 1989 short (19 minutes) film directed by Nigel Wingrove. It was refused certification by the British Board of Film Classification because of scenes featuring a sexualized representation of Saint Teresa of ?vila caressing the body of Jesus on the cross. The BBFC felt that the scenes could potentially make the film liable to prosecution for blasphemy. (In Britain, blasphemy is still illegal.) As cutting the scenes would remove approximately half of the film's content, the board decided to refuse certification altogether. The distributor took his case to the European Court of Human Rights, where the BBFC's decision was upheld to reject certification.


Dogma (1999) - a 1999 comedy film, written and directed by Kevin Smith. The film is a satire of the Catholic Church and Catholic belief, which caused organized protests and much controversy in many countries, delaying release of the film and leading to at least three death threats against Smith. Although there was no opposition to the film while the actual filming and pre-production was taking place, the following months of post-production and publicity were plagued with controversy over a perceived anti-Christian message read into the film. In an interview, Smith said: "You gotta find the line, and then cross it." Over time, the filmmakers received over 300,000 pieces of hate mail, which Smith posted on his website. Among these were "two-and-a-half" death threats. Smith explained this in his movie An Evening with Kevin Smith: One of the letters was threatening to start with, then became more friendly further on. The Catholic League in particular attacked Disney and Miramax, the original distributors, for being anti-Catholic. The film was originally scheduled to come out in November of 1998, but was pushed back to November of 1999 in the hopes the controversy would die down. When that didn't work, Disney sold the film's distribution rights to Lions Gate Films. When the film actually came out, Kevin Smith and his friend Bryan Johnson participated in a protest at the Sony Multiplex in Eatontown, New Jersey, carrying a sign which read "Dogma is ****." A news crew captured the incident and broadcast an interview with a disguised Smith on News 12 New Jersey.


The Golden Compass (2007) - a 2007 film, based on a controversial novel by Philip Pullman, but the producers were **** and decided to remove the religious elements that were in the novel. However, the film still caused controversy among silly conservative organizations. The story concerns Lyra, an orphan living in a fantastical parallel universe in which a dogmatic dictatorship called the Magisterium threatens to dominate the world. When Lyra's friend is kidnapped, she travels to the far North in an attempt to rescue him and rejoin her uncle.


This is a discussion thread for "blasphemous" movies.

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In a way Frankenstein (1931) could be considered to be blasphemous, I mean after to all it does deals with playing god, and there were a few lines that were edited out for its re-release during the Hays Code, because it was considered to be blasphemous, and the same also goes for Mask Of Fu Manchu(1932).

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There is an old Noir film from 1940 that was considered blasphemous when released, this film.

Strange Cargo dealt with prisoners who escape from Devil's Island, it has a well rounded cast

including Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Paul Lucas and Peter Lorre, but the character that stole the show was a man called Cambreau, brilliantly played by Ian Hunter, in the performance of his life as a Christ-like figure who only sees the goodness in man...Ian Hunter shines in a virtually

unplayable role that draws the line between human and devine. When this film was released it was banned in some communities..TCM plays this periodicaly and it is well worth watching...

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I'm puzzled by your summary of Monty Python's LIFE OF BRIAN and not sure I saw the same movie you did. With all due respect, aren't you making the same error many of the followers of Brian made--mistaking Brian for the Messiah? It's been many years since I've seen the movie, but I don't think Jesus was portrayed the way you described: "...the movie portrays Jesus as a fool, who, among other things, has sex. Mary is played by a man and uses foul language. It is indicated that Jesus was the product of a rape...." Um, no, wasn't that Brian? Maybe some poster who's seen it recently can enlighten us?


LIFE OF BRIAN pokes outrageous fun NOT at Jesus, but at wrong-headed followers who use religion to justify their own prejudices, who distort everything they claim to believe. It's a satire of organized religion. Fair game, far as I can tell. Many more will disagree, but I know lots of Christians who think this movie is funny.


I wish I could find the interview with one of the "Pythons" that I read years ago, in which he explains the point at which the jokes stopped in the making of the movie. Any time they got too close to the personage of Jesus Christ the humor dried up. Whether they liked it or not, they ended up being respectful of Jesus while, of course, easily lampooning the silliest of followers.


As for that alleged "storm" at La Cueva High School over the showing of THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST--it was just the usual media personality with a handful of listeners presuming to speak for the whole community, tempting local politicians to grandstand a bit. The teacher in question was widely-respected and too skilled at defending herself to be squelched. The well-meaning radio DJ expressed his appreciation for the polite and reasonable way in which the teacher handled the matter. The whole business wasn't anywhere near as controversial as the "Love-Lust Poem" quarrel at the University of New Mexico a generation earlier. Now THAT was fun, and it (eventually) ended with a victory for intellectual / academic freedom. All sorts of things should be publicly debated and discussed. Nothing wrong with that. That's how people learn.


It's too bad that important subjects get written up any old way in Wikipedia, and then taken for gospel. Don't you think several--or at least two--sources ought to be consulted before people pick up their torches and parade their indignation?


Just in case anyone's under the impression that the Catholic Church as a whole will arbitrarily and thoughtlessly condemn worthwhile movies, they might want to have a look at this list of great films. A more precise title would be "Forty-five Terrific Movies Catholics Are Urged To See", but never mind.


"The Fifty Best Catholic Movies Of All Time" (sic) / William Park



more info on the list from Adherents


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The Gable - Crawford vehicle " Stange Cargo ", directed by Frank Borzage was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency when it is released and is actually a very Catholic film, perhaps the most Catholic film ever released.



Leo McCarey's " The Bells of St. Marys " and " Going My Way ", both listed in the link provided as great Catholic films, are two films that would never be on my list of Best of anything. John Ford's " The Grapes of Wrath " is listed as a great Catholic film, but in my school days the nuns warned us against it. In the link the author states that " Grapes " is perhaps the most leftwing film of the decade and also THE MOST CATHOLIC. The reviews come from Crisis magazine( formerly Catholicism in Crisis ) not known for its liberal views.

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