British Censors Lift Ban on U.K.'s First Ever Film Outlawed for Blasphemy
LONDON – The British censors have given the all clear for a DVD release of experimental short film, Visions of Ecstasy, the only film ever to have been outlawed here for blasphemy.
Directed by Nigel Wingrove, the experimental film features scenes of Jesus being seduced on the cross and in 1989 the British Board of Film Classification declined to give it a rating because the scene in question “could constitute blasphemous libel.”
The BBFC said at the time that cutting out the potentially blasphemous material would shorten the 19-minute film by half, so they refused to approve it.
The internet lit up with OMGs as news filtered out of the BBFC’s decision to give the Wingrove's film an "18" rating, so it may be viewed by adults.
The fantasy scene in which the Spanish mystic St. Teresa of Avila sexually caresses Christ's body will now be made available to grown ups to judge for themselves.
Wingrove’s movie became created a clarion call for anti-censorship activists and the director took the ban all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, which upheld the British decision in 1996.
Wingrove — dubbed "Britain's answer to Hustler publisher Larry Flynt" by London's Evening Standard newspaper — went on to found film distribution companies specializing in erotic gothic horror.
Blasphemy was abolished as an offense in 2008.
The BBFC said the film would be "deeply offensive to some viewers," but was unlikely to cause harm.
"In the absence of any breach of U.K. law and the lack of any credible risk of harm, as opposed to mere offensiveness, the board has no sustainable grounds on which to refuse a classification to 'Visions Of Ecstasy' in 2012," it said in a statement.