Scenes from Elton John biopic reportedly cut from Russian version due to 'homosexual propaganda' law

Paramount PicturesTaron Egerton in ‘Rocketman.’
  • A Russian movie distributor reportedly cut around five minutes of footage that depicted gay sex and men kissing from the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.”
  • The footage was reportedly edited in accordance with Russian laws banning “homosexual propaganda.”
  • John and the filmmakers hit back against the edits, calling the move a “sad reflection” of a “divided” and “cruelly unaccepting” world.
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A Russian distributor has come under fire for reportedly cutting footage depicting gay sex and men kissing from “Rocketman” in accordance with the country’s laws banning “homosexual propaganda.”

Approximately five minutes of the movie were cut, according to the Guardian. Anton Dolin, a prominent Russian film critic, wrote online that the film’s final statement was also edited to say John had established an AIDS foundation, instead of saying that John lives with his husband and children.

Homosexuality itself is not criminalized in Russia, but the country is widely hostile to LGBT people, passing a law banning material perceived as LGBT “propaganda,” preventing the depiction of LGBT people in media.

In a statement reported by Variety, John and the filmmakers said they were unaware of the decision and rebuked the cuts, calling it a “sad reflection” of a “divided” and “cruelly unaccepting” world.

“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,” the statement said. “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 continued: “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.”

Read more: The Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman’ is a worthy celebration of his music and a look at his troubled past

Paramount Pictures said in a separate statement that the studio was “incredibly proud” of the movie, but “must adhere to local laws and requirements in certain territories in which the film is being shown.”

The cuts also set off criticism from Russian LGBTQ activists, including the Russian LGBT Network, which the New York Times reported urged viewers in a statement on Facebook to not see the Russian version.

In an op-ed for the Guardian ahead of the movie’s release, John said though some of the film’s content could offend viewers, he felt it was important that the footage truthfully portrayed his life.

“Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating,” he said. “But I just haven’t led a PG-13 rated life…there didn’t seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, I’d quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideon’s Bible for company.”

Read more:

Watch Taron Egerton belt out ‘Tiny Dancer’ in the new trailer for the Elton John biopic ‘Rocketman’

Here’s what the cast of ‘Rocketman’ looks like in real life

37 actors who completely transformed themselves into real-life music legends

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