8. The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson, 2004)
One of the most polarizing movies of 2004, “The Passion of the Christ” is Mel Gibson’s account of Jesus’ last 12 hours.
The brutality of its sequences was excessively shocking to audiences, and was panned as obscuring whatever message Gibson was trying to deliver. Nevertheless, the alleged anti-Semitic undertone throughout the film brought on most of the controversy surrounding it.
Named by Entertainment Weekly as the “most controversial movie of all time” two years after its release, “The Passion of the Christ” became one of the most commercially successful independent films in cinema history.
7. Baise Moi (Virgine Despentes, 2000)
One of the most transgressive French movies of the 21st century, “Baise Moi” (literal translation: F*ck Me) follows the spiral of friendship, hedonism, and non-forgiveness carried by two marginal women in a southern French underworld.
“Baise Moi” was developed between the not-often harmonic boundaries of protest and exhibitionism. Its nihilistic, self-destructive atmosphere has disturbing results, even to the supporters of its female empowerment discourse.
Widely criticized upon its release, “Baise Moi” was censored in some countries, surprisingly including France, where it became the first banned movie in 28 years.
6. Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005)
Based on a short story by Annie Proulx, “Brokeback Mountain” is a melodrama about a secret relationship between two men in the mid-60s.
Today, regarded as less-than-controversial, “Brokeback Mountain” was one of the first mainstream films about a same-sex romance that got massive attention from both critics and the public. As a result, it also outraged some people who labeled it as morally offensive and propagandistic.
5. Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)
A superior heir of the boom of sadistic horror flicks during the mid-2000s, and on the apparent cusp of the widely controversial New French Extremity, “Martyrs” follows Lucie and Anna’s descent into madness and cruelty, as Lucie tries to seek revenge against the people who kidnapped and tortured her when she was a child.
“Martyrs” seems to have been discomforting even in its native France. According to director Pascal Laugier, several large French studios rejected it for being “unusual”. The movie also nearly became the first French genre film, as stated by its defensive French Society of Film Directors, to get an 18+ rating.
4. Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000)
Based on Hubert Selby’s homonymous novel, “Requiem for a Dream” is an extremely shocking allegory about how dreams can quickly turn into nightmares. It follows four fragile Coney Island adults who find themselves trapped in their own personal transformed utopias, as their drug addictions become stronger.
The movie has a large number of uncomfortable scenes. Nevertheless, it was its infamous sex show scene that shocked the MPAA. As a result, the movie was rated NC-17. Director Darren Aronofsky appealed the rating, but his request was denied.
3. The Piano Teacher (Michael Haneke, 2001)
“The Piano Teacher” is Michael Haneke’s polished adaptation of the story of Erika, a piano professor at the Vienna music conservatory, who faces her accumulated repressions with several types of paraphilia, such as self-mutilation and voyeurism.
Based upon Elfriede Jelinek’s novel of the same name, “The Piano Teacher” is a serious exploration of the widely problematic role of paraphilia in everyday life.
“The Piano Teacher” won several major awards, including the Grand Prix at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, although several people walked out during its projection.
2. Irreversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002)
An alleged nihilistic allegory about time, “Irreversible” follows the aftermath of a brutal rape in reverse chronological order.
“Irreversible” is a very difficult movie to watch. Its brutality, particularly surrounding its infamous underpass and revenge scenes, caused various filmgoers to walk out of theatres.
It is said that even director Gaspar Noé was disturbed by the tedious rape scene. Nevertheless, he faced major accusations of homophobia due to the imagary of the movie, which he denied from the beginning.
1. Antichrist (Lars von Trier, 2009)
Following a man and a woman struggling in a forest (suggestively named Eden) to overcome her unbearable grief over their deceased child, “Antichrist” moves around the stages of mourning, pain and despair.
The first part of Lars von Trier’s alleged “Depression” trilogy is an overwhelming allegory of theological and psychological implications. It also takes a look into the misogynist association of women with abstract and violent forces, and especially with nature.
Though symbolical and visually astonishing, “Antichrist” has been equally impoverished by several audiences and media who have been outraged by the brutality of some of its sequences, though some exclusively hailed it.
Author Bio: Emiliano is an Ethics and Logic professor in a high school, his favorite directors are Gaspar Noé, Lars von Trier, Stanley Kubrick and Wim Wenders.