Italy ends censorship of films on moral and religious grounds


Filmmakers will instead classify their own movies based on the age of the audience

Marlon Brando is directed by Italian writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci in Last Tango in Paris, which fell foul of Italy’s censorship law Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 The  Guardian- AFP

Born in 1914 at the dawn of cinema, Italy’s censorship law felled some giants of the silver screen – including Last Tango in Paris – but now faces its own curtain call.

“Film censorship has been abolished,” announced culture minister Dario Franceschini in a statement late on Monday.

“The system of controls and interventions that still allow the state to intervene in the freedom of artists has been definitively ended.”

As a result, it will now no longer be possible to block the release of a new film or demand edits for moral or religious reasons. Filmmakers will instead classify their own movies based on the age of the audience.

Their decisions will be verified by a new commission made up of 49 members chosen from the film industry, but will be experts in education and animal rights.

“It’s a form of self-regulation. We are mature enough,” said director Pupi Avati, whose 1970s film Bordella was censored.

Hundreds of films have been censored in Italy over the past century, primarily for political, moral and religious reasons.

Most famous was Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-nominated 1972 classic Last Tango In Paris, all copies of which were destroyed except for three preserved as “proof of the crime”.

Scrapping the law was an “important and historic step for Italian cinema”, said Elena Boero, a film expert: “It was time.”

According to a survey by Cinecensura, an online exhibition promoted by the culture ministry, 274 Italian films, 130 American movies and 321 from other countries have been censured in Italy since 1944.

More than 10,000 were modified in some way, including works by directors such as Federico Fellini.

But for some artists censorship had the effect of drawing in viewers. “It make films more seductive, generating public interest, especially those with an erotic theme,” said Avati.

The last major case of censorship was in 1998 with the blasphemous and grotesque Toto Who Lived Twice, which was strongly criticised by traditional Catholics.



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