Controversial Moments in Film History

1915: “The Birth of a Nation”Director D.W. Griffith’s portrait of the Reconstruction (and, in turn, the Ku Klux Klan) era has enraged as many viewers as it has captivated.

1967: “Guess Who’s Coming

to Dinner”

Starring Sydney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, this film was the first film to deal with interracial relationships. It revolved around Poitier’s impending marriage to Hepburn and Tracy’s daughter, played by Katharine Houghton.

1969: “Midnight Cowboy”

The tale of a male prostitute, played by Jon Voight, and a thief, played by Dustin Hoffman. “Midnight Cowboy” is the only X-rated film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.

1971: “A Clockwork Orange”

Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” is supposed to repulse the viewer with its violence and sexual nihilism. Unfortunately, many have interpreted it as an ode to savagery.

1979: “Caligula”

Centered around the infamous Roman Emperor who tried to elect his horse to the Senate, “Caligula” is replete with graphic sex and violence, causing some critics to deem it “the most controversial film of all time.”

1990: “Henry & June”

A semi-autobiography of writer Henry Miller and his wife June, the films graphic sex scenes prompted the MPAA to invent the NC-17 rating. The movie also stars “Kill Bill” star Uma Thurman.

2004: “The Passion of the Christ”

Mel Gibson’s self-made passion play thrilled some, and infuriated others. A.O. Scott of the “New York Times” said the film was “relentlessly focused on savagery.