×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Malaysian Censor Wanted to Cut Four Minutes Out of ‘Beauty and the Beast’

Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, head of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board, says he sought to cut more than four minutes of material from “Beauty And The Beast” – far more than the three-second “gay moment” that has flustered regulators in some other countries.

Disney refused, and pulled the film from release last Thursday in Malaysia.

In a Q&A published Sunday in the New Straits Times and widely quoted in other Malaysian media, Abdul Hamid said that the Censorship Board (known as the LPF) wanted to cut 4 minutes and 38 seconds from three different points in the film.

The first was during the performance of a song in which the character Le Fou hugs his hero, the villain Gaston, from behind. The second was of “suggestive song lyrics with sexual innuendos.” And the third was a scene at the end of the movie that Abdul Hamid declined to identify but that is most likely the bit in which Le Fou has what director Bill Condon calls a “gay moment.”

“The length of the [proposed cut to the] song was about three seconds, but we could not recommend a three-second cut as it would make the song choppy and people would be angry. The other cuts are on the actions,” said Abdul Hamid.

He also said that publicity surrounding the film and Condon’s statements had made the problem more acute for the censors. Abdul Hamid said the LPF’s curiosity had been raised by the homosexual elements introduced into the live-action film that were not present in the 1991 animated original. And he said that viewers had emailed the censors prior to the movie’s certification.

“Maybe if Condon had not mentioned the ‘gay element,’ people wouldn’t be so curious and we could let it go with a potentially minor cut. And this whole thing may not have been an issue. We at LPF want to preserve films as much as how they are intended by the director, but the moment the ‘gay element’ is thrown into the mix, we had to protect ourselves,” Abdul Hamid said in the published interview.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has often been proud of its racial diversity and moderate version of Islam, but in the current political climate, conservative forces are increasingly dominant and intolerant. Under fire, Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Razak has recently embraced the hard-line Islamic factions that he previously shunned in order to bolster his chances of winning the next general election. Gay sex is illegal in Malaysia under both the criminal code and sharia, or Islamic law. Najib Razak’s leading political opponent, Anwar Ibrahim, has twice been jailed on sodomy charges.

Quoted by official press agency Bernama this weekend, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said: “Any films on LGBT [themes] the government will not allow, because the elements portrayed in the movie could influence us.”

“Malaysia does not recognize the LGBT ideology, so we have to be extra cautious in our work. If we let these scenes pass, people will wonder if Malaysia recognizes LGBT,” Abdul Hamid said in the New Straits Times Q&A.

Malaysia’s film bodies have made clear their position on LGBT matters in the past. In 2010, the Malaysian Producers Assn. said that gay characters would only be tolerated on film if they either repent or die.

Despite the LPF’s proposed cuts to “Beauty and the Beast,” Abdul Hamid said he personally found the film “very funny and entertaining.” He also explained that he had hoped to take his granddaughter to see the (edited) film on commercial release.

The LPF’s decision is likely to be heard on appeal Tuesday. The film will be screened for the Film Appeals Committee, which is a separate body but which also comes under the wing of the Home Ministry. The committee is made up of about 20 people, including education, information and police officials. Its decision is final and cannot be appealed.

More Film

  • Dragon Ball Super Broly

    'Dragon Ball Super: Broly' Scores Big First Day With $7 Million

    Funimation Films’ Japanese anime movie “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” has opened impressively with a dominant first-day total of $7 million at 1,260 North American locations on Wednesday. The English-language version of “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” which screened at 180 Imax and Cinemark XD premium large format screens, generated by far the best per-screen average among [...]

  • Shoplifters Cannes

    Box Office: 'Shoplifters' Hits $2 Million to Become One of 2018's Highest-Grossing Foreign Films

    Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “Shoplifters” has become an unexpected box office success. The Japanese drama about a petty thief who adopts a young girl has earned critical raves and picked up the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. That translated into commercial success for Magnolia, the indie distributor that’s been overseeing the film’s rollout. “Shoplifters” [...]

  • C'est La Vie TIFF

    French Films' Overseas Box Office Revenue Drops 51% in 2018

    After bouncing back in 2017, the overseas box office revenue of French movies plummeted by 51% to 237 million euros ($270 million) with 40 million admissions sold, a 52% year-on drop, in 2018. The provisional box office figures were unveiled by UniFrance during a reception hosted at France’s culture minister during which Eric Toledano and [...]

  • Isabela Moner Shameik Moore Kiernan Shipka

    Netflix Casts Starry Ensemble for Adaptation of John Green's 'Let It Snow'

    “Dora the Explorer’s” Isabela Moner, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s” Shameik Moore, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s” Kiernan Shipka, “Lady Bird’s” Odeya Rush, Jacob Batalon, Miles Robbins, Mitchell Hope, Liv Hewson, Anna Akana, and Joan Cusack are set to star in the Netflix pic “Let It Snow.” The film is based on the New York Times bestselling [...]

  • Brian Tyree Henry Playback Podcast If

    Listen: From 'Beale Street' to 'Spider-Verse,' Brian Tyree Henry Was Your 2018 MVP

    Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. Emmy- and Tony-nominated actor Brian Tyree Henry is coming off a sensational year. A second, acclaimed season of FX’s “Atlanta” sent him headlong into a fall movie season that saw featured roles in Yann [...]

  • (L to R) SAMUEL L. JACKSON,

    How a Costume Designer Brightened M. Night Shyamalan's 'Glass'

    Paco Delgado’s costumes are as varied as his films. Contrast the drama “The Danish Girl,” the futuristic fantasy “A Wrinkle in Time” and the period musical “Les Misérables.” Now he’s in comic-book territory with M. Night Shyamalan’s newest superhero/supervillain thriller, “Glass,” which Universal releases Jan. 17. The costume designer’s career began in Barcelona and London, [...]

  • The Lego Movie 2

    'Lego Movie 2' Heading for $55 Million Opening Weekend

    Warner Bros.’ “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part” is heading for an opening weekend of as much as $55 million at the North American box office on Feb. 8-10, early tracking showed Thursday. Chris Pratt is returning to voice Master Builder Emmet Brickowski along with new character Rex Dangervest. The unfailingly optimistic Emmet has [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content