Film Censorship Jan'60-Apr'70: D





The Damned

Directed by Luchino Visconti / 1969 / Italy-West Germany / IMDb

Original theatrical release was censored for a 'Not Suitable for Children' rating.

Information provided by Shane Harrison
Colin Bennett was a film critic with The Age in Melbourne. He wrote a lot about the sad state of censorship and included such in numerous film critiques. He had seen THE DAMNED overseas, so knew the complete version. In his review, he detailed the three areas of cuts. I saw the film back then. Only Australian censorship could reduce a controversial cutting-edge X-rated European art film to an Aussie "Not Suitable For Children".

Three complete sequences were removed.

1. A long scene of post coital chat between Ingrid Thulin and Dirk Bogarde, where Ingrid is naked for protracted screen time. The scene establishes that she is a Lady Macbeth as she coaxes a weak Bogarde into the benefit of co-operating with the Nazis and worse. The whole scene was removed, so the audience had no idea at this point that she was the "power behind the throne."

2. The scene depicting the treacherous "Night of the Long-knives" was removed. The prolonged sequence detailed a homosexual orgy, drunken assaults on the serving women and ends with the notorious massacre. It's removal left the audience completely in the dark as to the demise of one of the major characters who simply disappeared from the plot and was referred to as dead near the end of the movie... the first the audience knew that he was dead.

3. Helmut Berger (a perverted and powerful Nazi character) destroys his mother's (Ingrid Thulin) control by raping her near the end of the film. The rape plot was totally removed. It was unfathomable how such a strong character ended the film a fragile wreck.

Interestingly when a cut version played TV in Melbourne in the late 70s it included as scene where a 6-year-old girl, who was assaulted by Helmet Berger's character, is shown hanging from the ceiling, murdered. This view was not in the Australian theatrical release print, or the worldwide VHS or DVD releases. An overseas DVD release about a decade or so ago had the scene reinstated and was the first time the film could be seen fully uncut. In the late 70s, THE DAMNED played Melbourne at retro cinemas and the print was nearly complete. Some of the violence during the "Night of the Long-knives" was reduced and the actual rape of Ingrid Thulin was deleted, while the "before and after" was included. I am thinking that given THE DAMNED wasn't resubmitted to our censor in the 70s then this was a print from a less censorious country and was exhibited with a self-imposed M-rating.

I have seen some cinema admats that appeared in the Melbourne press in 1970 that THE DAMNED as being rated 'Suitable only for Adults'. This contradicts the daybill that shows the lower 'Not Suitable for Children' rating. A similar situation occurred with Michelangelo Antonioni BLOW-UP (1966).

All newspapers and the cinema box office had to carry the official rating, while posters appeared to be a law unto themselves.

I believe that the ratings were changed around 1968, and this resulted in posters carrying different ratings depending on the year they were printed. Pre-1968, the classification X (Not suitable for General Exhibition), which was sometimes referred to as X (Not Suitable for Children), became A (Not Suitable for Children). While the higher A (Suitable for Adults), sometimes referred to as A (For Adults), became AO (For Adults) or SOA (Suitable Only for Adults). In effect, the A-rating was switched.


Resubmitted and passed with an M-rating in June 1987.

Image courtesy of


The Damned (1969) - Daybill



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