Last week we brought you a list of movies, which over the years have both enticed and repelled movie-goers. Their critical or commercial success apart, they still remain great studies of filmmaking, garnering a sure cult status. Of course, as with their eccentricity, the list is not for the faint-hearted. But then, those movies pale down when you see the below entries, who are the torch bearers of violent, gory, bloody and downright disgusting movies. Earning them the tag of the few of the most controversial movies ever made.
Baise-moi ( 2001 ) :
Baise-moi (Fuck Me) is a 2000 French crime thriller film written and directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi and starring Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson. It is based on the novel by Despentes, first published in 1999. The film received intense media coverage because of its graphic mix of violence and explicit sex scenes. Consequently, it is sometimes considered an example of the “New French Extremity”.
The Tin Drum ( 1979 )
The Tin Drum, a 1979 German movie adapted from Günter Grass’s novel of the same name, is one of the most controversial yet celebrated movies in film studies. Despite getting banned from several nations this movie won both the prestigious awards Palme d’Or and Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The movie serves as a social commentary and deals with subjects beyond comprehension. The Plot – The protagonist is a gifted 3-year-old kid who gets vexed with the adult world and decides to stop growing physically on his third birthday. The boy despite being small gets sexually aroused when he turns 13, has sex with his teenage nanny, and makes her pregnant. After the death of his mother, this nanny marries his father and becomes his stepmother.
Hail, Mary (1985)
Jean-Luc Godard’s contemporary take on the Immaculate Conception featured copious nudity and was denounced by Pope John Paul II. French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard’s controversial and upsetting film retold the story of the virgin birth and Mary, now demythologized for modern times (present-day Switzerland). It starred Moroccan-born Myriem Roussel as a tall, freckle-faced teenaged basketball player (with jersey number 10) named Marie, representing the Virgin Mary. The film was condemned and denounced by Pope John Paul II at one time (he said that the offensive film “deeply wounds the religious sentiments of believers”)
Men Behind the Sun (1988)
This unrated (would have been NC-17 undoubtedly) provocative and sickening documentary-style film (denounced by some as an exploitation film) from director T.F. Mou displayed some of the Japanese atrocities and perverse medical experiments committed toward guinea-pig human victims (Manchurian civilians) in Unit 731 (a biological warfare R & D unit) during WWII (and the Sino-Japanese War). It was claimed that Emperor Hirohito secretly ordered the inhuman lab experiment.
Bandit Queen (1994)
Indian censors deplored the nudity and violence in this biopic about Phoolan Devi, who overcame rape, child marriage and false imprisonment to become a politician. This Bollywood biodrama (in Hindi with subtitles) told the true-life legendary story of indomitable female folk outlaw-heroine Phoolan Devi (portrayed by Seema Biswas), nicknamed “The Goddess of Flowers.” In real-life, the “bandit queen” negotiated her surrender in 1983 to avoid the death sentence, and was imprisoned (without trial) for eleven years. [She ran for Parliament in 1996 and was assassinated in New Delhi, India in 2001 when she was just 37, reportedly to avenge the Behmai Massacre.]
Walkouts were common during this French thriller, which depicted a vicious and lengthy rape and its brutal aftermath in reverse chronological order. Frenchman writer/director Gaspar Noe’s hard-hitting, graphic, profoundly disturbing and violent film about rape-revenge, was non-linear – it was told in flashback and reverse order in continuously-filmed takes, similar in structure to Christopher Nolan’s Memento (1999), with the theme: “Time destroys everything.” The fatalistically-tinged film implied that the characters in the film were predestined (irreversibly) to face what would happen to them. It was also revealed that the film deliberately caused nausea, vertigo and unease in the viewer (and provoked many walk-outs).
The Magdalene Sisters (2002)
The Magdalene Asylums in Ireland, run by the Sisters of Mercy on behalf of the Catholic Church, were scandalous and misguided institutions for the sexual humiliation and control of young girls rejected from society or their families. The docu-drama told a barbaric and scandalous story of three Irish girls, abandoned by society, cast out by their families, and treated as slaves at Magdalene Sanctuary run by the Sisters of Mercy. The “fallen” young ladies who had committed mortal sin were considered immoral, or impure (for being flirtatious, or for being raped or having an illegitimate child).
The Brown Bunny (2003)
Gossip about cult actor Vincent Gallo’s directing debut centered on a graphic oral-sex scene and his feud with critic Roger Ebert. This independent arthouse film from narcissistic and vain producer/director/actor/writer Vincent Gallo was essentially a cross-country road-trip movie, about: unshaven, long-haired motorcyclist racer Bud Clay (Vincent Gallo) – a tortured, empty-hearted loner, and his former and estranged girlfriend Daisy (Chloe Sevigny, Gallo’s real-life ex-girlfriend). In the film’s most notorious, explicit and controversial scene of unsimulated fellatio at the finale, the needy individuals attempt to connect and speak to each other.
9 Songs (2004)
This UK movie received limited US distribution but revived the “porn or art” debate by charting a couple’s relationship through nine unsimulated sex scenes. Maverick British director Michael Winterbottom’s ultra-graphic, 69-minute romantic love story was composed of the recollected memories of a male’s affair with a female while flying over the snowy wastes of Antarctica.
This drama of young bohemians in post 9/11 New York was the most sexually graphic American movie ever released in non-porn theaters. Writer/director John Cameron Mitchell (director of the cult classic Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)) brought out his second arthouse feature film titled Shortbus (aka “The Sex Film Project”). It was screened both at the Cannes Film Festival, and at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was the “most explicit” or sexually graphic film ever screened. It also had the widest release of any film showing unsimulated sex.
This unrated, gory, nihilistic horror film was accused of being one of the most violent movies ever made – part of a hardcore trend in French films called the “New French Extremism” that portrayed intense pain, hatred and suffering. Writer/director Pascal Laugier’s controversial, unrated, gory, nihilistic horror film was accused of being one of the most violent movies ever made.
The Human Centipede Series ( 2009-2015)
In the first of the trilogy of twisted, repellent shockers, a mad doctor turned three young victims into a 12-limbed abomination. It proved that it’s still possible to appall horror buffs with a series of taboo-ridden films that completely lacked good taste. One of the more perverse, twisted and repellent ideas for a film was found in this series of exploitative, torture-porn horror films by Dutch director/writer Tom Six.
Nymphomaniac Two Part Series :
Nymphomaniac is the third and final installment in Lars von Trier unofficially titled “Depression Trilogy”, having been preceded by Antichrist and Melancholia. The Nymphomaniac films see Von Trier at his most perverse and ingenious. He takes his task,to tell the story of the erotic life of a woman from birth to the age of 50, very seriously indeed. Nymphomaniac is fascinating as an intellectual case study. There is a heroic striving from Joe to understand her own behaviour and desires.
Missed our first part of this “Controversial Movies Of All Time” series. Be Sure to Check it out here.