The horrors of South African censorship

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A South African Censorship History Timeline 1913 ~ 2007


The Local Censorship Ordinance Act of 1913 is promulgated.


The National Censorship Act of 1931 is passed into law which demands that “all cinematographic material be cleared before exhibition”.


The SA Censorship Board is established.


Zoltan Korda’s locally filmed “Cry The Beloved Country” is temporarily banned due to Ministerial complaints about its’ content.


Anna Sewell’s classic novel “Black Beauty” is banned by the Censors due to its’ title alone.


The SA Publications Control Board (PCB) is established with the 80 year old Professor Gerrit Dekker as its’ head, who later retires, and Adv. Jannie Kruger is appointed in his place. Professor T T Cloete, one of SA’s foremost writers and poets is appointed a censor.


Ralph Nelson’s “Lillies of The Field” with Sidney Poitier is banned and remains so, even after Poitier is awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his role in this charming film. It is later unbanned in 1973.


Cy Endfield’s “Zulu” with Sir Stanley Baker and Sir Michael Caine is banned for screening to “natives” for fear that it might “incite them to violence”.


Elmo de Witt’s “Debbie” runs the censorship gauntlet as the PCB impose first one, then another high age restriction on this simple tale of a naïve farm girl falling pregnant in Pretoria. Kruger’s comment on the film is that “No Afrikaans girl ever gets pregnant out of wedlock”. The film is available on tape today with no age restriction at all.


The PCB orders all foreign embassies in SA to submit all films in their posession to it for scrutiny, and possible censorship and/or banning.


Guy Green’s “A Patch Of Blue” is banned for daring to show relationships across the colour line ~ in this case, the unconditional love of a blind white girl for a person of colour who loves her in return. This film continued the vogue of censoring or banning almost all of the films that Sidney Poitier starred in.


Sidney Lumet’s “The Pawnbroker” is banned ~ the reason given by the PCB is that “it is offensive to see a “Bantu” female baring her breasts for a white man”.


Three of Sidney Poitier’s films ~ “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”, “In The Heat Of The Night” and “To Sir, With Love” are banned by the PCB this year. Other films banned include “The Graduate”, “Blow Up”, “Finian’s Rainbow, “Witchfinder General” and “Bonnie and Clyde” ~ all internationally acclaimed and award-winning films which South Africans were not permitted to see.


Jans Rautenbach’s “Die Kandidaat” (SA’s first political thriller) is released only after the Security Police seize a copy of it to check if cuts ordered by the PCB were effected.


The 1963 Publications and Entertaiments Act is amended.


Ken Russell’s “Women In Love” is heavily cut and Martin Ritt’s “The Great White Hope” is banned for its’ depiction of love across the colour bar.


Mario Schiess’ “Onwettige Huwelik” is almost banned this year, with the head of the PCB stating that the film is undesirable due to the fact that “there has never been, nor will there ever be an unlawful marriage in SA”.


The PCB’s annual report states that since its’ inception, 1600 films have been severely cut and 300 films banned.


The harsh brand of SA censorship is debated both in Parliament and in the media this year. Ken Russell’s “The Devils” and Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” are both banned as are “The Immortal Story”, “Billy Jack”, “Soldier Blue” and “The Dunwich Horror”, among others.


Peter Henkel’s “Three Bullets For A Long Gun” earns itself the dubious homour of becoming the first SA film to be banned.


Uncensored in flight films are screened on all of SA’s overseas flights, leading to fits of apoplexy at the PCB who have no jurisdiction over this. In the same year, Dr Connie Mulder states that “the powers of the PCB will be increased if need be……………South Africa must not become the dumping ground for money hungry pornographers”.


The interracial sex scenes between Roger Moore and Gloria Hendry in Guy Hamilton’s James Bond thriller “Live & Let Die” are cut from the SA release print. Bernardo Bertolucci’s “Last Tango In Paris” is banned in SA, but released uncut at a casino in Swaziland ~ Dr Connie Mulder threatens “serious action” against those who would dare cross the border to view this film.


Films banned this year include “Shaft In Africa”, “The Wicker Man”and “The Big Boss”, the latter film starring Bruce Lee.


PCB chief Jannie Kruger denies that censorship exists in any form in SA ~ he is quoted as saying that “SA has no censorship system of any kind, we merely have a system of publications control”.


Ralph Nelson’s anti~SA film “The Wilby Conspiracy” starring Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine (filmed in Kenya with Nairobi substituting for Johannesburg) is banned, as are “The Exorcist”, “Enter The Dragon”, “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Blazing Saddles”.


SA filmmaker Sven Persson’s “Land Apart”is banned and is almost totally re-shot, finally finding release under the title “The South Africans”.


The 1974 Publications and Entertainments Act is promulgated in Parliament and remains in force until 1994.


The Publications Appeal Board (PAB) is established this year ~ in theory, its’ establishment creates a higher court of appeal by filmmakers and distributors to contact if their films were banned or cut: in reality, it is just another censor board with more frightening powers than the PCB.


Among the films banned this year, one finds “The Whispering Death”, “The Devil’s Rain”, “Race With The Devil” and “The Trial Of Billy Jack”. Manie Van Rensburg’s local political comedy “Die Square” is banned


The PCB orders that no less than 30 cuts be made to the award-winning film “All The President’s Men” but has to retreat from this decision when the film’s producer and star Robert Redford angrily attacks them, threatening to lead a boycott against SA exhibition of USA films. The film is released uncut.


Judge J H “Lammie” Snyman is appointed head of the PAB this year ~ heralding a new period in censorship history as films, books, magazines and music are banned left, right and centre, sometimes without reason.


USA filmmaker Richard Donner takes the Censor Board to task this year over the huge number of cuts ordered to his film “The Omen”.


Moustapha Akhad’s “Mohammed Messenger Of God” and Richard Brooks’ “Looking For Mr Goodbar” are banned.


A legal clause stating that “it is an offence to prejudice, influence or anticipate the decisions of the Publications Directorate” is added to the Publications and Entertainments Act this year. Ripples of horror run through the government this year as polls indicate that the majority of South Africans wish cinemas to be open on Sundays.


Jack Gold’s “The Medusa Touch” is the film which causes most problems for  the censors this year with its’ depiction of a homicidal maniac (Richard Burton) who kills by thought and who is seen to be immortal even after he is supposedly been killed. The PCB states that the film would only be released if the final scene “where evil is seen to triumph” is cut, but the film is released uncut, albeit with a very high age restriction.


James Fargo’s locally filmed “Game For Vultures” is banned this year as “its’ screening might endanger the security of the State”.


Judge J H Snyman retires this year and Professor Kobus van Rooyen is appointed in his place. Snyman’s last act as Chief Censor is to ban the Pink Floyd album “The Wall”. “Dressed To Kill” and “Friday The 13th” are also banned.


The films “The Howling” and the locally filmed “The Grass Is Singing” are banned.


The Department of Home Affairs announces this year that “South Africa has the strictest censorship system in the world”.


Roger Spottiswoode’s “Under Fire”is banned ~ the excuse given is that “the film might sow the seeds of revolution in South Africa”.


The Directorate of Publications orders that all video distribution slipsheets be submitted to them for possible censorship before usage.


The 1974 Publications and Entertainments Act is amended.


ACTAG (the Anti-Censorship Action Group) is formed and there is a serious request from the head of the Islamic Council in SA to the PCB to request that the Bible be banned, due to the “lurid and pornographic” passages in the Song of Solomon.


Gray Hofmeyr’s locally filmed “Jock of The Bushveld” is banned in Zimbabwe.


A new age restriction for films rears its’ head this year as Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” is released uncut, but with a no persons 2 to 21 age restriction on it.


Sir Richard Attenborough’s controversial “Cry Freedom” is passed by the PCB but is later seized by the Security Police.


SA filmmakers Darrell Roodt’s “The Stick” and Andrew Worsdale’s “Shot Down” are banned this year and the Publications and Entertaiments Act is amended. Chris Menges’ anti-South African film “A World Apart” (based on lives of Joe Slovo and Ruth First, starring Barbara Hershey and Jeroen Krabbe) is also banned.


Cedric Sundstrom’s “The Shadowed Mind” and Euzhan Palcy’s “A Dry, White Season” are banned this year while the anti-South African action comedy “Lethal Weapon 2” (in which South African diplomats are portrayed as gun runners, Krugerrand smugglers and killers) is released uncut here and becomes the box-office hit of the year.


Professor Kobus Van Rooyen resigns as the head of the PAB after the fracas over the seizing of “Cry Freedom” ~ unconfirmed reports at the time suggested that his house was also fire-bombed and his life threatened.


Martin Scorsese’s controversial “The Last Temptation of Christ” is banned.


Advocate Louis Pienaar replaces Professor Kobus van Rooyen as the PAB head this year but resigns after a period of six months.


Professor Dan Morkel is appointed the new head of the PAB.


Paul Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct” is released uncut in South Africa this year ~ this act immediately causes a relaxation of the censorship laws in this country.


The Weekly Mail Film Festival highlights SA censorship this year at its’ “Limits Of Liberty” festival and the PCB head, Dr Abraham Coetzee is a guest speaker who was booed off the stage.


Despite a relaxation of the oppressive censorship laws, several films are banned for television screenings, including the local productions “The Stick”, “Place of Weeping” and “Zulu”.


The Freedom of Expression Institute is established ~ an amalgamation of ACTAG and the Campaign For Open Media.


Ex PAB chief Dr Kobus van Rooyen urges that the 20 year old Publications and Entertainments Act either be revised or scrapped altogether.


As the era of democracy dawns in SA, the newly appointed Minister Of Home Affairs, Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi states in Parliament that “never again in this country will anyone decide what any rational and intelligent beings may or may not watch, read or hear”.


The 1994 Publications and Entertainments Bill is gazetted this year and the activities of the PCB and the PAB are slowly wound down.


The Arts and Culture Task Group’s report is submitted to the GNU this year, advising that the old censorship system be scrapped entirely but that a new, representative board be appointed in its’ place.


In a landmark ruling, the SA Supreme Court states that the possession of so-called “pornographic” books, magazines, films and videos is no longer illegal.


Much of the once banned and undesirable films are released to home video, such as the long banned “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “A Clockwork Orange”


The SA Censor Board arises in a new guise this year in a more representative and more public face as the “Film and Publications Board” (FPB)


The 1994 Film and Publications Act is amended this year (with particular relevance to making the production, possession and selling of child pornography illegal) and the FPB makes its’ own advert to be used in cinemas and VHS/DVD rentals, using footage and audio from the eerie film “The Others”, starring Nicole Kidman. The tagline on the adverts is: “The effect lasts long after the film is over. Age restrictions are there for a reason. We inform, you choose.”


The Department of Home Affairs threatens to impose censorship on all television programmes screened in SA.


Rumours circulate in the media that a return to the days of pre-transmission and publication censorship of all media by Government is imminent.


In addition to the current censor warnings (S, L, V, P, N) on film posters and video slipsheets, the FPB announces a new symbol, that of B, for films which contain blasphemy. The Film and Publications Act is also amended, this time with input from the public.


That is a very odd selection of films to be banned... Sad to see one of my favorites on the list: "In the heat of the night" - a classic!

"They call me Mr. Tibbs." - unforgettable

Finian’s Rainbow???

Trevor, you live in another world.

As long as people have the same crap forced down their throats, the same crap will be puked back up.
It's almost the same here.  Boone county, where I live in Arkansas, has been dry since prohibition.  It sucks that I can't get a cold beer without having to make the short drive to Missouri.  Anyway, There are too many people who were brought up with the thought process that booze is bad, and their old, wrinkled butts still sit in seats of local authority.  As such, whenever it comes time to vote to finally allow Boone county to sell beer or liquor, it gets shot down.  Hell, last time it came up for a vote, people who had been dead for years apparently got up and voted it down.
There are times when I'm almost ashamed to be an American.  The things that our politicians say and do, and some of the laws that they pass, or try to pass are things that only Bozo the Clown or someone trying to bring about Orwell's 1984 would come up with.
Then I read something like this and realize that, yeah, we may have some folks who grew up eating paint chips under power lines, drinking water filtered through the Love Canal from radiators in offices of political power, but maybe we don't have it so bad over here after all. 

There was originally more to this post, but the paint chips are kicking in and I can's remember what it was that I wanted to say, so I'll just go back to sleep.

Quote from: IzzyDedjet on November 15, 2007, 12:12:45 PM

Hell, last time it came up for a vote, people who had been dead for years apparently got up and voted it down.

In that case, a cold beer is the least of your worries. The threat of a zombie holocaust seems imminent in your parts.  :teddyr:


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