An intimate moment in Christopher Nolan’s dark historical drama “Oppenheimer” has been censored in several countries outside the U.S., including India.
The altered scene takes place as Cillian Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who led the development of the atomic bomb, sits naked across from Florence Pugh’s Jean Tatlock, a Communist Party member with whom he had a torrid affair. In the unedited version of the film, Pugh is topless as she converses with Murphy’s character in a hotel room. But in the sequence that plays in Indian and Middle Eastern movie theaters, her body is covered with a computer-generated black dress.
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Like most movies that feature explicit sex or nudity, sources close to the film confirm, those scenes were censored to secure a release in countries such as India and the Middle East, which don’t allow that type of content to play in theaters.
“Oppenheimer” was edited to pass with a U/A certificate by India’s film certification standards. Movies with the U/A certification “can contain moderate adult themes, that is not strong in nature and can be watched by a child below 12 years of age under parental guidance,” according to India’s Central Board of Film Certification.
Several countries in Asia and the Middle East have strict censorship mandates regarding sexuality, nudity and swearing. Recent Disney movies “West Side Story” and “Eternals” were pulled from release in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait due to the inclusion of a transgender character in the former and Marvel’s first openly same-sex couple in the latter. In those instances, Disney refused to comply with cuts requested by censors so the movies were banned from playing in those theaters.
“Oppenheimer” also courted controversy in India by quoting text from the Hindu scripture “Bhagavad Gita” — specifically the line “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds,” which Oppenheimer recalled when the first nuclear bomb was detonated — during an earlier sex scene with Tatlock.
Neither of these instances has hampered ticket sales. “Oppenheimer” crushed box office expectations, generating a remarkable $82.4 million in North America and $180 million globally. Even with a name brand like Nolan at the helm and euphoric reviews, it’s a dazzling start for a three-hour-long period piece with little action and lots of talking.
Universal is backing the R-rated biopic, which cost $100 million. The starry cast also includes Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Alden Ehrenreich.
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