Elton John has hit out at Russia’s censorship of the new biopic Rocketman’s queer content.
The “epic musical fantasy” film explores Elton John’s early years, including Elton’s relationship with first manager John Reid.
But Russian journalists said the local distributor had removed around five minutes of the film.
As well as scenes of drug use and gay sex, Russia cut the ending message that Elton found “the love of his life” and became a father with husband David Furnish.
Elton and the film’s other producers condemned the censorship in a statement.
“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,” they said.
“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 edits are “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,” they said.
“We will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.”
Lead actor Taron Egerton said he was “crestfallen” with the Rocketman censorship.
“I in no way condone this decision and feel disappointed I wasn’t made aware and given the chance to fight this move,” he said.
“Love is love. No compromises.”
Censorship to comply with homophobic ‘gay propaganda’ law
The film’s local distributor told the Moscow Times that it cut the scenes from the film as a result of with Russian law.
Russia’s “gay propaganda” law prohibits the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” to minors.
Amnesty International said the censorship was an example of the law encouraging homophobia in Russia.
“By censoring any expression of [same-sex] affection, this mutilated version of the film insults and dehumanises same-sex relationships,” Amnesty’s Russia office director Natalia Zviagina said.
The Russian LGBT Network said, “In this way, the Russian distributor indirectly supports homophobia.
“We urge people not to support such a policy and not to go see the Russian version of the film.”
A spokesperson for Paramount told EW the studio is “incredibly proud” of Rocketman. They said the film was created “in the way that Elton John wanted his story to be depicted.”
“We are releasing the film in its entirety around the world regardless of rating,” the spokesperson said.
“But like all studios, we must adhere to local laws in certain territories in which the film is being shown.”
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