Chinese censors chop 38 minutes from Cloud Atlas including gay and straight love scenes

It follows Skyfall as the latest film to receive extreme modification for distribution in China

Nearly 40 minutes have been chopped from the Hollywood film Cloud Atlas for Chinese audiences, deleting both gay and straight love scenes to satisfy local censors despite a movie-going public that increasingly chafes at censorship.

It premiered on Tuesday in Beijing with a red-carpet ceremony featuring actor Hugo Weaving and China's own Zhou Xun, but won't start running in Chinese cinemas until next Thursday. The filmmaker's Chinese partners have slashed that version from the original runtime of 172 minutes to a pared-down 134 to expunge the "passionate" episodes.

"The 172-minute version can be downloaded online ... so I am sure some people will prefer that to going to the cinema," said movie fan Kong Kong, 27, who lives in Shanghai.

Chinese citizens have recently become more outspoken, especially on social media, with complaints about censorship of imported films as well as the home-grown movie industry and news media, much of it imposed over elements that might make China look bad. Awkward cuts by the censors to the most recent James Bond offering Skyfall, which opened in China on Monday, prompted calls for a review of the film censorship system.

"Even these kinds of movies are getting censored, for what?" wrote Wei Xinhong, deputy editor in chief at Shanghai Literature and Art Publishing Bureau, on his Twitter-like Sina Weibo. "What kind of era do we live in today! Still want to control people's minds?"

He said he was left confused after watching China's version of the 007 movie, which deleted a bloody scene showing a French hitman killing a Chinese security guard. It also changed the subtitles of Bond's conversation with a young woman in the Chinese territory of Macau about her past — references to her as a teenage prostitute morphed into a mention of her membership in the mafia.

The Cloud Atlas filmmakers say they are confident their movie will retain its "integrity" despite being 38 minutes lighter.

Executive producer Philip Lee said that the filmmakers knew they would have to "follow the censorship requirements" to have the movie shown in China. He said he hadn't yet seen the censored version that will come out next week, but that he was confident that the Chinese distributor, Dreams of Dragon Pictures, had made the right changes.

"We have very strong belief in our partner Dreams of the Dragon Pictures," Lee said. "They have been extremely helpful and collaborative and I am sure they will protect the integrity of the film makers, our creativity and vision."

A woman surnamed Su in charge of propaganda for Dreams of the Dragon Pictures refused to comment today. Phone calls to the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television rang unanswered.

China allows only 34 foreign films to be shown in its cinemas each year and 14 of those have to be in 3D or IMAX format. However, pirated DVDs of Hollywood blockbusters are widely available in China, sometimes the result of recording films as they are shown in American or European movie theatres.

"I'm kind of surprised that the directors or the film's producers would accept such a hefty edit on this," Florian Fettweis of Beijing-based media consultancy CMM-I said of Cloud Atlas. Usually if Hollywood movies encounter heavy censorship, the makers change their mind about showing it in China, he said.

Fettweis said that happened with the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight."

"Commonly big Hollywood directors are the ones who don't accept edits to their films," said Fettweis.

China's authoritarian government strictly controls print media, television, radio and the Internet. China doesn't have a classification system, so all movies shown at its cinemas are open to adults and children of any age. This has led to calls for a tiered classification that would give clearer guidelines to filmmakers and allow some films to be less heavily censored.

There are two strands to the Chinese censorship — prudishness and political sensitivities, said Steve Tsang, an expert on contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham in Britain.

The censoring of gay love scenes in Cloud Atlas falls into the first category while cuts to Skyfall are in the second, broadly defined as anything that portrays China or the Chinese in a negative light. "Shooting a Chinese officer in uniform, they don't want to encourage that," said Tsang.

The screen time of a pirate played by Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat in the 2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End was slashed in half by censors for "vilifying and defacing the Chinese," according to the official Xinhua News Agency at the time.

The changes made to Skyfall were widely reported in state-run media. Xinhua quoted Shi Chuan, a professor from Shanghai University's film department, as saying: "Movie regulators should respect the producers' original ideas, rather than chopping scenes arbitrarily." He renewed calls for the establishment of laws and norms for movie censors to follow.

Cinema-goers who saw the censored version were confused by the cuts, which also deleted a character's line about having been tortured by Chinese security agents.

"Now I know why I was so confused when I watched it, and not able to connect each scene," a movie goer, Gao Yuan, who works for a cultural publishing company in Beijing, said on her Sina Weibo. "It's not worth watching any good movies if they cut them like this. Maybe just don't import it."

AP

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee