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Francis Lee, getting to the bottom of film censorship

3 8 1
23.05.2020

A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned that she’d seen an early preview of Normal People. It’s great, she said. Just don’t watch it with your parents.

Then the pandemic put paid to the idea of watching anything with your parents, though it did, at least, spare us the need to pretend to be engrossed in a cup of tea whenever Connell and Marianne went at it on primetime BBC1. I appreciate that some families are healthily, European-ly OK with sex and nudity, and fine, well done for that, you big bohemians.

I thought about Normal People’s gung-ho approach to letting it all fly free when I read about the director Francis Lee, who last week took to Twitter to say that the version of his film God’s Own Country that had appeared on Amazon Prime in the US was a censored cut. “It is not the film I intended or made,” he wrote, promising to investigate.

God’s Own Country is a truly brilliant film, a masterpiece of British cinema. It is beautiful and subtle and romantic, a love story between a farmer and a farmhand. The version that appeared on the streaming site reportedly had its gay sex scenes chopped out. I didn’t see that version, so I don’t know how a story involving a deep attraction between two men flowed without showing any of the deep attraction between two men, but I can’t imagine it fared well.

Lee investigated and found out that the US distributor had uploaded a new version without consulting him, taking out some of the........

© The Guardian