RTL #23: Head-to-Head Most Controversial Film
Kyle and I had the advantage and challenge of finding the most controversial films and pitting them against each other. With no restraint by category, Kyle and I were open to every genre and period. But with that comes the pressure of actually deciding on THE most controversial movie EVER…ANYWHERE. So, with that, Kyle went with The Interview and I went with Cannibal Holocaust.
The Interview Choice
Kyle’s choice in The Interview definitely packs a controversial punch, but it is by no means the most controversial film. Perhaps the only thing The Interview has going for it is its advantage of being new and fresh in everyone’s minds. But ignoring the past and being short-minded is no excuse for picking a movie from the last 6 months.
The Interview boasts international intrigue and the cinematic killing of a country’s leader/god. That’s pretty heavy material, especially considering the constant reminders we receive about the consequences following portrayals of Muhammad. But Kim Jong Un is by no means Muhammad in scale or respect globally. The United States has been constantly bombarded with anti-American propaganda from North Korea, often followed with unfulfilled threats. This, as a super power, we are supposed to ignore, because the 1st world countries of Earth see no actual threat present. So what is a nation of oil and entertainment to do? Well, we aren’t aware of any North Korean oil reserves we could extract, so why don’t we just make a movie bashing their ridiculous leader? And so The Interview was made. A comedy that briefly made headlines as certain countries banned the film and it received a delayed/limited release in the US due to unwarranted threats. The film was eventually released to no consequence. It got poor reviews, few found it awe-inspiringly entertaining, and it is quickly falling by the wayside. Its concept and adamant nature to push freedom of speech were far more interesting globally than what was actually in the film, which in the end was no more controversial than Team America years earlier.
The Interview isn’t the first film to be banned in certain markets. I mean, even The Dark Knight was banned/edited in certain regions due to content considered degrading to certain countries. In fact, another film to be discussed below was banned in over 50 COUNTRIES. Tell me that isn’t globally controversial.
Cannibal Holocaust Choice
Yes, Cannibal Holocaust was banned in over 50 countries. It depicts some of the worst and most gratuitous violence and sexual content in any film, and that includes the most recent banned films like A Serbian Film and Martyrs, except CH was 20 years before any of them in a time far less accepting of such material. With numerous rape and murder scenes, including the actual brutal disembowelments of animals, the film was a legal, social, and moral problem in many markets. The director himself was arrested for murder after courts had suspected it was a snuff film in which the main characters were actually brutally murdered in the fashion in which you see on film. The director was held until he could prove that the actors were still alive.
The quality of the film is debatable. I watched it with the knowledge of the director’s arrest, and still found it difficult to believe the actors were actually killed. The surrounding story arc makes it even more difficult to believe such a rumor. But, in different times, the things that happen in this film were believable and unbearable for many. It did not have the direct global or national effect of The Interview, but CH was not given an opportunity because of its offensive content that went beyond “unacceptable humor” and to a mixture of realism and gore. It is even by today’s standards disturbing, both in its content and quality. Seriously, it’s controversial enough to think how this film could have been made considering its grotesque plot and even uglier script and acting. It’s like Troll 2 meets a snuff film. Just a difficult, controversial watch all the way around.
Arguing the controversy surrounding these two films is difficult. Many don’t even know that Cannibal Holocaust exists where The Interview is a recent news piece. But due to the overwhelming controversy surrounding CH, be glad others made the decision to ban it for you. That is, until directors like Eli Roth rip it off and you go see the updated version of it anyways.