Wandering through Wikipedia, I came across the surprising discovery that one of the 'video nasties' is still banned in the UK.
Fight for Your Life, "The least politcally correct film ever seen", apparently features rape, infanticide and constant racial abuse. This is surprising because, despite the UK's rocky past of censorship, I assumed that all of the video nasties (including cult hits such as The Evil Dead and The Driller Killer) had since been made available, and that the attitudes against them more or less died along with Mary Whitehouse.
However, 13 of the 74 films are still outright banned in England. Even more surprising, Fight for Your Life has been released in a remastered DVD package in America. From the press it receieved, it doesn't sound like the kind of legend that The Evil Dead became, but the difference across the Atlanatic is shocking. That said, American censorship is a bit weird. Kung Fu Hustle was rated the same as The Passion of the Christ. Yeah. What?
Perhaps most interesting is the film Visions of Ecstasy - still banned in the UK, due to blasphemy. Blasphemy? Italy's censorship board has a member from the Roman Catholic Church and they're still more lenient than that. The option to cut offensive scenes from Visions of Ecstasy didn't exist, as the film is only 19 minutes long and they would have been deleting half of the film.
Compared to many countries, UK censorship is (as we would expect) pretty good. Nothing has been banned on a purely political basis; many other countries still can't see Farenheit 9/11 or The Da Vinci Code. Of course, Malaysia banned Babe: Pig in the City, so some people are just unlucky. This is why it's so surprising that there's a film banned due to such a traditionalist reason as blasphemy. It raises questions over our national identity (if there is one); are we still so conservative to place religious views above political ones? This, in turn, questions the need for censorship at all. What exactly is the role of art if artists can't portray and suggest exactly what they'd like? Doesn't that make the film industry just another way in which the government can control the masses?
...Is that what it already is?