7 Must-Watch, Award-Winning Movies That Were Banned In Malaysia

While the world celebrates the uniqueness of these movies, our film board thinks that they are too "inappropriate" for the local audience.

Cover image via cinephiled

Movies get banned all over the world, all the time.

While we can't always agree on why or how these movies are so easily deemed "inappropriate" for viewers, it is certainly mind-boggling why critically acclaimed, award-winning movies get banned in Malaysia a little too often.

Image via GIPHY

With that in mind, we take a look at some of the most beautifully-made movies with excellent storylines that
were banned in Malaysia:

The movies are arranged in no particular order.

1. Schindler's List, 1993

Schindler’s List is based on the inspiring true story of Oskar Schindler, a German industrialist that saved more than 1,200 Jews during the horrific Holocaust. Having joined the Nazi party for the benefit and safety of his business, Oskar starts hiring Jews to work in his factory camp as he fully absorbs the true horrors of one of the darkest times in history.

The movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Original Score, Film Editing, Art Direction and the Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture, Director and Screenplay.

The Malaysian film board banned the film, citing it as a "propaganda with the purpose of asking for sympathy." According to a report by the New York Times back in 1994, the government also said Schindler's List depicts the Jews as "stout-hearted and intelligent" whilst portraying the Germans as "brutal".

2. Brokeback Mountain, 2005

Based on the short story by Annie Proulx, the Brokeback Mountain tells the tale of two men who fall in love in small town Wyoming in 1960's America. The scenes are raw with emotion and deals with all the harsh and ugly realities of being a homosexual back then.

The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Best Picture and Best Director at the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Producers Guild of America Awards, Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards. It also won three Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score.

The movie was banned in the local theaters for its "favourable" depiction of homosexuality.

3. A Clockwork Orange, 1971

Based on the book of the same title by author Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange delves into the nightmarish Dystopian world that is embroiled in a web of violence and extreme government control. Set in the future England that very much looks like the 70s, the story revolves around a group of ultraviolent delinquents that spend their days getting high on terrorising the people they stumble upon.

Think loads of gang rape, sexual murders, and brutal killings. Things take a unlikely turn when the leader of the gang, Alex is caught by authorities that put him through the Ludovico behaviour modification.

A Clockwork Orange won multiple awards, including the Hugo Awards 1972 for Best Presentation, 1971 New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Director and Best Film, the Pasinetti Award in the 33rd Venice International Film Festival among many other prestigious accolades.

The movie was banned in Malaysia for its explicit sexual and violent content.

4. The Painted Veil, 2006

Based on the 1925 novel of the same title by acclaimed author W. Somerset Mougham, The Painted Veil is set in 1920s China, embattled by the Chinese Civil War and deathly plagues. The story recounts the journey of a young English woman, Kitty Garstin, a vain socialite, who is forced to follow her bacteriologist husband to a remote village in rural China that is plagued with a cholera epidemic, as a punishment for her infidelity.

The Painted Veil won the National Board of Review Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and the Best Original Score from both the 2006 Golden Globes and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award.

The movie was banned locally for its mild sexual content.

5. Pan's Labyrinth

Set in a dark Spanish forest, at the height of the gory World War 2, Pan's Labyrinth is a excellent fantasy film that perfectly captures the realities of war when Spain was still stuck in a fascist nightmare.

The movie's lead, young Ofelia moves in with her mother and her new distant and cold husband, Captain Vidal who is a commander assigned to hunt down rebels after the Spanish Civil War. Eager to escape into the fantasy world that she loves, Ofelia stumbles upon a stick insect that leads her into a labyrinth where she meets a faun that puts her through three eerie tasks to achieve immortality.

Pan's Labyrinth won the Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Cinematography and Makeup. The film also bagged the BAFTA for Best Film Not In English and won a total of eight categories at Mexico's Ariel Awards.

Pan's Labyrinth was banned in Malaysia for its violent content.

6. The Shawshank Redemption, 1994

A world away from Hollywood's usual spins on prison films, The Shawshank Redemption is a beautifully made movie that tells the tale of a young banker, Andy Dufresne, who is convicted and slapped with a life sentence at the Shawshank State Penitentiary for murdering his wife and her lover. The movie gently unravels the surprising friendship Andy forms with fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd Redding and the brutalities that he faces from other prisoners and guards over the span of 19 years.

The Shawshank Redemption is said to be one of the greatest movies of the century, having won the American Cinema Editors, USA 1995 for Best Edited Feature Film, Best Foreign Film by the Japanese Academy and the PEN Center USA West Literary Awards for Best Screenplay, among many others.

The movie was banned in Malaysia for its depiction of cruelty, profanity and violence.

7. How To Eat Fried Worms, 2006

Don't let the title deceive you. 11-year-old Billy starts his first day at a new school with the unfortunately usual taunts and cruelties portrayed in most movies; name calling and pranks. Having become the target of the school's notorious bully, Joe Guire and his band of posse, Billy decides to fight back, only to find himself tangled in a ridiculous bet that involves him eating 10 slimy worms without puking. The movie touches on the delicate topic of bully and how children are most often left to fend for themselves when pushed into tricky situations like this.

How To Eat Fried Worms won Young Artist Award 2007 for Best Young Ensemble In A Feature Film and Best Family Feature Film.

The was banned in Malaysia for the "disgusting behaviour shown in the film".

Movie censorships in Malaysia are imposed by the Film Censorship Board of Malaysia that is under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry

The logos and movie classification in Malaysia

Image via Ministry of Home Affairs

The movies are classified under these categories and are sometimes censored accordingly. It is when there is an abundance of certain elements, especially religious or sexual that a movie is usually banned in the country. Based on past events, there is a clear pattern whereby any movie that is tinged with religion and/or sexual content is most often banned by the film censorship board.

Have a favourite banned movie in mind that we might have missed? Let us know in the comment section below! :)

As the pioneers of the movie industry in Hollywood continue to impress with exceptional films, Malaysia's movie scene has come a long way too. Watch these amazing local movies that best depict the beauty of being a Malaysian:

While we are on the topic of movies, did you know that Malaysian director, Jess Teong's "The Kid From The Big Apple" won four awards at the 7th Macau Film Festival?

You may be interested in:

Leave a comment