Russia cuts Rocketman scenes citing ‘homosexual propaganda’ law
Elton John biopics gay sex and kissing footage edited out in effort to play down singers sexuality
A Russian media company has reportedly cut all scenes featuring gay sex and men kissing from the Elton John biopic Rocketman because of laws banning homosexual propaganda.
An estimated five minutes of footage have been cut from the film in an attempt to play down the sexuality of one of the worlds most famous gay celebrities for a conservative Russian audience.
The cuts were first reported by Russian journalists after the films 30 May release in Moscow. Anton Dolin, a popular Russian film critic, wrote on Facebook 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.
While the original caption said that John lives with his husband and that they are raising children together, the Russian version says instead that he established an Aids foundation and continues to work with his musical partner.
Sorry, Sir Elton, Dolin wrote.
On Friday, John and the films makers released a joint statement condemning the cuts: 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.
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.
John wrote about the new film in an article for the Guardian recently. Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating, he said. But I just havent led a PG-13 rated life.
The singer added: I didnt want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didnt seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, Id quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideons Bible for company.
John has remained one of the wests most celebrated rock stars in Russia even as he has used his celebrity to campaign for equal rights for LGBT around the world. He first toured the Soviet Union in 1979 and has continued to perform in Russia even after the passing of the controversial anti-gay propaganda law in 2013, targeted mainly against public events like pride celebrations.
Conservative supporters of the law said it was needed to protect traditional family values and minors from non-traditional sexual orientation. Local organisations and foreign governments have criticised the law, saying it is both discriminatory and vague.
John was also targeted by pranksters pretending to be Vladimir Putin in 2015, calling the chance to discuss civil rights with Putin a great privilege before realising he had been duped.
The real Putin eventually called John, and the singer secured an invitation from the Russian leader to meet and speak about issues including HIV, Aids and equal rights for LGBT. The meeting still has not taken place.
In 2014 Putin said of the singer: Elton John is an outstanding person [and] outstanding musician. Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation.
A Russian state news agency said the distribution company managing Rocketman confirmed that changes were made to the film in accordance with Russian law.
Earlier reports said that 40 seconds could be cut from the film in a bid to lower the movies age rating. In his post, Dolin said that the film had been cut by as much as five minutes. Scenes featuring drug use had also been cut.