No Go Zone: The Popular Films That Were Banned During WWII
World War II was one of the most devastating events of the 20th century. Affecting almost every part of the world, the war changed the lives of those who were in it forever, leading them into a culture that would never be the same again. While we’re all familiar with the devastating changes brought about by the war, we rarely speak about the smaller, cultural changes that came into place during the time. The film industry proved to bring up a whole load of tensions that few had foreseen and as a result, many aspects of it came under heavy censors. These films proved to be too much for audiences to handle during the time and for a list of bizarre reasons, they were banned.
- La Grande Illusion
A war-based film, La Grande Illusion tells the story of two German-held French POWs who escape from their prison camp. Despite receiving rave reviews all round, however, the film was banned by the Nazis in 1937 for its less than favorable depiction of the Germans. Anti-war to the core, the film proved to be too contentious for the leaders of the Nazi world, who had every copy of the film in the country incinerated.
A tragic story with which most of us are familiar, Titanic tells the tale of one of the most notorious ship disasters in modern history. Despite having nothing to do with war, however, the film came under attack during WWII, eventually banned from screenings. Created by the Germans during WWII, the original film was put out as an effort by Joseph Goebbels to show just how efficient the Nazis were at filmmaking. Within weeks, however, Goebbels had banned the film, believing that it would lower morale levels amongst German citizens. Elsewhere, the film came under heavy restrictions, too, serving as a piece of Nazi propaganda.
- All Quiet On The Western Front
A portrayal of trench warfare during the First World War, All Quiet On The Western Front proved to hit a little too close to home for some during its 1931 release. Despite following the exploits of an American soldier, the film faced heavy bans in Poland, where it was deemed “pro-German”. In Germany, however, Goebbels was less than happy with the film, reportedly sending out riot squads to chase after individuals who watched it.
- Zero For Conduct
Released in France in 1933, Zero For Conduct immediately came under attack for its anti-law and authority storyline. Set in an oppressive boarding school, the film follows a group of boys who plan to overthrow their teachers, eventually turning the school to chaos. Needless to say, the film didn’t please the French officials and before it had barely even made a splash in French theaters, the film was banned. Some months later, the film caused a similar ruckus in Germany and was banned for the same reasons.
- The Great Dictator
Despite being produced by one of the most popular movies stars at the time, Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator caused a huge scandal on its release in 1940. Containing a barely veiled imitation of Hitler, the film came under swift fire in Germany and was soon banned in the country. Some years later, however, a group of Nazi soldiers were shown the film as part of an underhand trick. A rebel Yugoslavian swapped a film reel for that of The Great Dictator during a screening showed to German officers. The German officers only realized the error halfway through the film, storming the projection room when they uncovered the truth.