Elton John and the filmmakers behind the biopic on his life “Rocketman” have condemned the censorship of their film in Russian theaters, in which the local distributor removed “certain scenes” that the filmmakers say is “cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.”
John is seen in a sex scene with another man in the film, and the singer is openly gay. The Guardian reported earlier Friday that a local Russian distributor cut all scenes featuring gay sex or men kissing due to Russian laws banning “homosexual propaganda,” an estimated five minutes of total footage.
John and the filmmakers said that they were unaware of the changes until today.
“We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor ‘Rocketman’ for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today,” John and the filmmakers said in a statement. “Paramount Pictures have been brave and bold partners in allowing us to create a film which is 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. 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.”
The Guardian says that Russian critic Anton Dolin wrote in his review that “all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out. The nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale.”
The caption ahead of the film’s credits says that John now lives happily with his husband and that they are raising their children together, but according to Dolin, the Russian version says that John has established an AIDS foundation and continues to work with his musical partner.
“Rocketman” is a biopic and jukebox musical about John’s life starring Taron Egerton and directed by Dexter Fletcher. The film opens this weekend in America as well as in 39 other territories. It opened in the UK last week.