Top 10 Banned Movies of the 2000s



Top 10 Banned Movies of the 2000s

VOICE OVER: Tom Aglio WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
These films drew the ire of the censors for a number of shocking reasons. For this list, we'll be looking at the movies released between 2000 and 2009 that have been banned by any government or have otherwise had distribution suppressed. Our countdown includes "Borat", “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life”, "The Departed", and more!

Top 10 Banned Movies of the 2000s

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Banned Movies of the 2000s.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the movies released between 2000 and 2009 that have been banned by any government or have otherwise had distribution suppressed.

Do you think any of these bans are justified? Let us know in the comments!

#10: “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life” (2003)

The second film starring Angelina Jolie as video game treasure hunter Lara Croft was much less successful than its predecessor. And this wasn’t helped by one country outright banning it. In the film, Croft travels to China to find a precious orb needed to recover Pandora’s Box. She manages to get into the country undetected via hang glider and ride her motorcycle down the Great Wall of China. The country opted not to allow the sequel into theaters, reportedly due to censors objecting to the film’s portrayal of China. Technically, it wasn’t accurate since the scenes set in China were actually shot in Wales.

#9: “The Kingdom” (2007)

Kuwait & Bahrain
Here’s some irony: a film called “The Kingdom” is not allowed in multiple kingdoms. Although primarily filmed in Abu Dhabi, the thriller follows a team of federal agents who travel to Saudi Arabia to find a notorious criminal. At the time, Saudi Arabia already had a ban on movie theaters. But the film’s portrayal of the country seems to have upset other nations. Persian Gulf countries Kuwait and Bahrain banned “The Kingdom.” An official in Bahrain said it "vilifies a brotherly country," referring to Saudi Arabia. Considering how numerous critics noted stereotypical characterizations in the film, we can’t be too surprised about these bans.

#8: “The Simpsons Movie” (2007)

Considering how irreverent the Simpsons tend to be, it’s not surprising to hear of at least one country banning their big-screen debut. But, reportedly, it wasn’t any of the crude gags that got “The Simpsons Movie” banned from Myanmar. It was the film’s use of yellow-and-red color pairings. These happened to be the colors of rebel organization the National League for Democracy, and the film was subsequently banned. Considering that you can’t really have a “Simpsons” movie without the color yellow, we don’t know how you could possibly circumvent this ban. “The Simpsons’ with blue skin just isn’t the same.

#7: “Zoolander” (2001)

Malaysia & Singapore
“Zoolander” is a very funny movie, but it’s not a particularly respectful one. And that lack of sensitivity got it banned from two countries. The comedy’s plot involves a dimwitted male model being brainwashed into going after the new Prime Minister of Malaysia. The film isn’t exactly nuanced in its portrayal of the country. So it’s unsurprising that it was banned, with the country’s censorship board calling it “definitely unsuitable.” Singapore, an ally to Malaysia, also banned “Zoolander,” though they did later lift it. Derek Zoolander might be “really, really, really ridiculously good looking.” But some found his movie just ridiculously offensive.

#6: “Battle Royale” (2000)

Germany & South Korea
Before there was “The Hunger Games,” there was “Battle Royale.” In this Japanese thriller, middle-school students are made to fight to the death by a totalitarian government. The film stoked plenty of controversy for its high levels of violence involving adolescents. For a time, “Battle Royale” was banned in Germany, with the police confiscating copies of the film - though this ban was later overturned. The film is also reportedly forbidden from airing on South Korean TV, due to the extreme levels of violence. Thankfully, no battle royale has taken place in response to these bannings.

#5: “District 9” (2009)

Sci-fi thriller “District 9” uses extraterrestrial beings to make a point about issues like racism and xenophobia. However, some found the film itself to be culturally insensitive. The film features Nigerian characters, who are portrayed not only as criminals but also as cannibals. The country was outraged by this, with their information minister calling it “definitely unacceptable” and going as far as saying that it “denigrated Nigeria’s image.” They also said they asked for an apology from Sony. Ultimately, “District 9” was 86’d in Nigeria, and there’s no word of this ban ever being lifted.

#4: “Borat” (2006)

It’s pretty obvious why Kazakhstan banned “Borat,” considering the mockumentary’s rather unflattering portrayal of the country. However, they weren’t the only county to not find Sacha Baron Cohen’s antics amusing. All Arab countries, with the exception of Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates - who censored it considerably - also banned the film. A Dubai censor referred to it as "vile, gross, and extremely ridiculous." We definitely agree “Borat” is ridiculous, and we can see how some might’ve found it offensive. However, Kazakhstan has softened its stance a bit, using Borat’s famous catchphrase as a tourism slogan. All together now: very nice!

#3: “Persepolis” (2007)

Iran & Lebanon
Think animated films are all pure escapism? You clearly haven’t seen “Persepolis,” a stunning adaptation of an autobiographical graphic novel set during the Iranian Revolution. The film drew praise for both its striking animation and its emotional storytelling. However, as with many acclaimed films, “Persepolis” also drew intense criticism. The film was banned for a time in Lebanon, due to some clerics saying it was "offensive to Iran and Islam." Iran itself wasn't too happy about "Persepolis," either. Government officials made claims of Islamophobia against the film and managed to get it cut from the Bangkok International Film Festival. We hope to see more politically minded animated films in the future.

#2: “The Departed” (2006)

Martin Scorsese’s Best Picture-winning crime thriller is a remake of a Hong Kong film, “Infernal Affairs.” However, China issued an outright ban on “The Departed.” Officials portrayed the ban as being due to the film’s general content, with a spokesman saying it “would not be suitable for Chinese viewers.” But others believe it was specifically due to an aspect of the plot, in which gangster Frank Costello sells stolen military equipment to China. Ultimately, “The Departed” was never legally imported into the country. But it still managed to score big at the box office and during awards season.

#1: “Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

Cowboy romantic drama “Brokeback Mountain” made us cry. But it also caused some significant outcry over its plot. Social progress happens at different rates in different places, and even in the US, the Oscar-winning film’s depiction of a same-sex love affair upset some critics. It was outright banned in China, as well as in multiple Middle Eastern countries. It was released in Lebanon, but in a heavily censored form, and in the United Arab Emirates, but only on home video. Positive mainstream depictions of gay relationships have increased substantially since the release of “Brokeback Mountain.”