Film

Elton John And The Makers Of ‘Rocketman’ Have Slammed Russian Censorship Of Gay Sex Scenes

In a statement they called it "a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in".

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

Elton John and the makers of Rocketman have released a joint statement condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the decision by Russian distributors to remove scenes of gay sex and kissing from the musical biopic ahead of its release in the country.

Up to five minutes of footage has been removed from the picture, as first reported by Russian film critic Anton Dolin. This reportedly includes all instances of gay sex, oral sex and kissing, as well as scenes featuring drug use. The distributor also reportedly replaced a title card from the end of the film that explains John now lives with his husband and that they are raising children together. In Russia, it instead says that he established an AIDs charity and continues to work with his musical partner.

In an Instagram post, John said he and the filmmakers were unaware of the censorship until today, and said the film was meant to be “a true representation of Elton’s extraordinary life, warts and all”.

“That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people,” the statement read. “We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.”

 

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Actor Taron Egerton, who plays John in the film, posted on Instagram that he was “crestfallen” by the news. “Love is love,” he wrote. “No compromises.”

According to a Russian state news agency quoted by The Guardian, the local distributor said the cuts to the film were made “in accordance with Russian law”. Russia introduced strict laws against “homosexual propoganda” in 2013, a move that Amnesty International called “an attack on the right to freedom of expression”.

Rocketman is currently in cinemas in Australia, and has received rave reviews from critics.