The Pacific nation of Samoa has banned the Elton John biopic “Rocketman” over the film’s inclusion of an explicit sex scene involving two men.
Nearly all of Samoa — 97 percent — identifies as Christian, according to The Guardian, and the country is considered to be fairly conservative and traditional in its views on social issues. In addition, homosexual acts are illegal in the small country, though the laws are not strictly enforced.
Leiataua Niuapu Faaui, principal censor for Samoa, told the Samoa Observer the movie about the prolific entertainer contradicts the country’s “culture and our Christian beliefs.”
Faaui did, however, admit the film, starring Taron Egerton as Elton John, is “a good story, in that it’s about an individual trying to move on in life.”
Ultimately, though, Apollo Cinemas in Samoa announced via social media it would have to pull “Rocketman” from its screens “due to censoring issues.”
“He [Elton John] went through a difficult family life and managed to move on and become very successful,” the censor said. “But there are acts that are not good for public viewing and against the law.”
While Samoa has pulled “Rocketman” from distribution, it’s worth noting the island nation allowed distribution for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a film chronicling the life and career of Freddie Mercury, who was also gay.
“Bohemian Rhapsody,” while it dealt with issues related to homosexuality, did not feature an explicit sexual encounter.
Shortly before Samoa decided to ban “Rocketman,” the biopic’s Russian distributors heavily edited the movie, scrubbing it of its explicit same-sex encounter and deleting an end caption telling viewers about Elton John’s marriage to his husband, David Furnish, who, alongside the pop star, served as an executive producer for the film, and their sons, Elijah and Zachary.
In a joint statement released last week, Elton John and others involved in the making of “Rocketman” condemned Russia for censoring the film.
“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,” the statement read in part.