The new musical fantasy biopic Rocketman follows the life of Elton John. Quite unsurprisingly, the film shows that life to have been quite the wild ride. However, it seems that the new movie is a bit too wild for the nation of Samoa. The movie has been officially banned from the island nation due its depiction of homosexuality.
Somoa’s official censor stated that Rocketman found itself in conflict with the country’s “culture and our Christian beliefs.” According to Reuters, Somoa is a 97% Christian nation and the constitution states that the nation is based on “Christian principles.”
Knowing that, it’s far from surprising that Rocketman found itself having a problem in Samoa. The movie doesn’t tip toe around Elton John’s homosexuality. It includes a fairly passionate sex scene between star Taron Egerton as John and Richard Madden as John’s then manager John Reid.
It appears this decision was made somewhat late as at least one theater in the Samoan capital had advertised screenings of the film, and has now had to inform fans that the showings have been cancelled.
News that Samoa has outright banned the film follows news that Russia decided to edit the film, removing five minutes of footage that was deemed to be in violation against Russia’s laws against “homosexual propaganda.”
This is far from the first time that we’ve seen certain nations react like this, even to biopics about musicians. When Bohemian Rhapsody was released last year it saw China edit out any homosexual references. Rocketman appears to be avoiding issues in China by avoiding a Chinese release entirely.
The more mature elements of Elton John‘s life story have always been somewhat controversial. The singer has revealed that part of the reason it took so long to bring the story to the screen is that most studios wanted to tone down the film’s sex and drug use. In that case, the issue was less a direct issue with the sex, but more a commercial desire to get the movie a PG-13 rating and thus increase the potential audience.
John insisted that those elements remain in the movie because they were representative of the life that he lived. Ultimately, he found a studio willing to produce the movie that way, and the film’s $100 million worldwide gross shows that thee’s still a sizable audience interested in the real story, even if the movie itself even admits that the story is also something of a fantasy.
While homosexuality has certainly become more accepted in most of the world, certainly more so than it was while many of the events of Rocketman were actually taking place, there are still many places in the world where that isn’t the case.
Ultimately, it’s a loss for Samoa, as Rocketman is a pretty damn good movie that now nobody in the nation will get a chance to see.