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VOICE OVER: Sophia Franklin WRITTEN BY: Cameron Johnson
Books sometimes get censored when transfered to film. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're looking at films that most wisely chose to sanitize controversial scenes described in the books they were based on. Our countdown includes "Gone with the Wind," "Paper Towns," "Life of Pi," and more!

#10: Freeing Eustace
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010)


The family-friendly “Chronicles of Narnia” movies carefully balance respecting C. S. Lewis’s books and avoiding their darkest moments. But “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” had to particularly tone down a key plot point. After the dragon Eustace Scrubb’s redemption, Aslan returns him to his human form with a roar and an explosion of light. Lewis described a far less dazzling sequence. Aslan originally extracted the human Eustace by physically tearing through his dragon flesh. This symbol of peeling away the boy’s malevolence surely would have scared younger viewers. The visual might have also been too violent for such a triumphant moment, resituated in the movie near the story’s climax. Sometimes the flashier special effect is the more tasteful.

#9: Duchess vs. Madame
“The Rescuers” (1977)


It seems the orphan-enslaving, diamond-hunting Madame Medusa is as evil as a villain can get. Really, she’s only as evil as Disney wanted to get in their adaptation of Margery Sharp’s “The Rescuers”. Medusa is based on the Diamond Duchess, the antagonist of the original book’s sequel “Miss Bianca”. Even the villain’s gem obsession was restrained, to say nothing of her cruelty. The Duchess starves and beats young Patience, and alludes to kidnapping orphans before her. Some were notably fed to her bloodhounds Tyrant and Torment, the bases for Medusa’s crocodiles Brutus and Nero. Sharp’s idea of a sadistic villain went even deeper than Disney’s. As scary as Madame Medusa is already, maybe readers can understand the Diamond Duchess’s absence.

#8: The Hyena
“Life of Pi” (2012)


Ang Lee wisely and whimsically works around the ambiguous storytelling in Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi”. Animal-lovers will especially appreciate what he chose to make more ambiguous. That mainly goes for a spotted hyena who breaks loose on the lifeboat Pi shares with animals. The beast executes a zebra and the orangutan Orange Juice, before the tiger Richard Parker emerges to save the day. However, the book’s hyena spends days eating the zebra alive. When Orange Juice intervenes, she ends up beheaded. The hyena’s rampage finally ends when Richard Parker’s begins with dismemberment. This horrifically gory episode would represent the full extent of Pi’s trauma. Of course, sparing moviegoers their own was worth crunching the timeline.

#7: Bateman's Sadism
“American Psycho” (2000)


Bret Easton Ellis’s satire of a yuppie serial killer was long considered too brutal to film. The cult classic adaptation was willing to take on controversy to do the material justice. But the role that established Christian Bale as a hard actor could have gone harder. In the book, Patrick Bateman is more overtly bigoted and fixated on torture. The homeless man he kills suffers a more drawn-out death, along with his dog. Several horrendous murders, including one of a child, were cut entirely. These changes suggest that the movie’s downplayed violence was more about making the protagonist palatable than securing an R rating. If the audience got inside Ellis's mind, identifying with Bateman’s dark humanity might have been impossible.

#6: SeaWorld Break-In
“Paper Towns” (2015)


Early in the movie “Paper Towns”, Q and Margo’s night out in Orlando culminates in a trip to the SunTrust Building. This marks a key moment of character development, which John Green’s novel took further with one more misadventure. The date was supposed to end with a daring break into SeaWorld after SunTrust. But five years after the book’s release, the theme park’s unethical treatment of orcas was widely exposed by the documentary “Blackfish”. Shortly before “Paper Towns” hit theaters, Green himself announced that the SeaWorld scene was cut in protest. It's rare that a Hollywood film boasts about ideological self-censorship. At the very least, a miscalculated setting can distract from the emotion of a scene.

#5: Peeta’s Leg
“The Hunger Games” (2012)


The “Hunger Games” films rarely shied away from the darkness of Suzanne Collins’s books. However, fans were polarized by the loss of one critical piece of violence. In the first film’s battle royale, Peeta Mellark is incapacitated by a stab to the leg, but ultimately recovers. In the book, the leg has to be amputated. A robotic prosthetic eliminated this tragedy as a long-term plot element in the series. It was still such a crucial character element that many fans were disappointed by the change. Some even felt it robbed a Hollywood franchise of a hero with a disability that never actually disabled him. We’ll never know if Lionsgate would have generated more controversy by risking the first movie’s PG-13 rating.

#4: Know Your Limits
“Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015)


The success of E. L. James’s “Fifty Shades” series was phenomenal, given its erotic romance. Readers were reluctant to share every detail, as were the film adaptations. The first one especially cleaned up Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey’s sexual experiments. Obviously, the most explicit descriptions were glossed over to secure an R rating. But Christian’s less harsh sadomasochistic demands and behavior make it almost a soft R. The film also cuts multiple sex scenes, most notably a controversial one involving a tampon. Some viewers may appreciate that the steamy “Fifty Shades of Grey” is not so offensively blunt as a movie. Still, for fans of the book and erotic thrillers in general, the reduced kink aroused its own scandal.

#3: The Baby
“The Road” (2009)


The post-apocalyptic world in Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Road" is almost too much to describe. John Hillcoat's adaptation was renowned for its faithfulness, with one fortunate exception. The book infamously illustrates the moral depravity of a cannibal camp by describing a newborn baby roasting over a fire. Hillcoat actually shot this moment for the film’s cannibal scene. However, he ultimately decided that it was too gratuitously gruesome to include in the final cut. The deleted sequence has never been made public, but is now a sort of urban legend. While Hillcoat assures the audience that he adapted “The Road”’s most twisted scene as tastefully as he could, he agrees that it was a step too far.

#2: Racial Themes
“Gone with the Wind” (1939)


Victor Fleming’s “Gone with the Wind” holds a polarizing legacy. Even those who maintain that it’s one of the greatest films ever made agree that its racial elements are at best problematic. But it was actually not oblivious to the racism in Margaret Mitchell’s book. She frequently used slurs, explicitly dehumanized Black people, and suggested their contentment with being enslaved. The film even excises a subplot involving the Ku Klux Klan, whose rise is referred to as a “tragic necessity.” These blatant expressions of Mitchell’s disturbing views were thankfully not adapted, partly thanks to pressure from the NAACP. That’s still no excuse for the Confederate monuments that remain in the flawed cinematic classic.

#1: Loss of Innocence
“It” (2017)


Stephen King's bold horror masterpiece “It” was successfully brought to the small and big screens. But while the film duology is edgier than the 1990 miniseries, neither tackled the book's most controversial scene. During the Losers Club’s first trip to Pennywise’s sewer lair, sexual assault survivor Beverly makes a proposal for losing the innocence that the demon controls. She then has sex with the rest of the preteen club. King explains that this adolescent experiment symbolizes the kids taking control of their bodies and coming-of-age. Still, the plot point could never be pivotal enough to justify visualizing the scene. For all the horrific moments in “It”, there’s no controversy surrounding both adaptations’ refusal to film one particular character moment.

What shocking book scenes were you shocked to not see in the film adaptations? Bring them to life in the comments.

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