If something in the run-up to Christmas has the potential to beat covid mutations for a while, it’s a Czech Christmas fairy tale. Respectively, the “case”, in the middle of which was a national treasure called Three Nuts for Cinderella, which was shot in Barrandov in 1973 by Václav Vorlíček based on a screenplay by František Pavlíček. However, his authorship was covered by Bohumila Zelenková at the time, as he was considered a persona non grata during the normalization due to his engagement during the Prague Spring.
This small historical excursion is essential for the text in which the censorship takes place. Vorlíček’s film was created in a Czechoslovak-East German co-production. He subsequently became domesticated as a Christmas fairy tale not only in the GDR, but also in Norway. And it is the Norwegians who have currently filmed a remake of Cinderella, which the distribution company Bontonfilm is going to release in Czech cinemas on December 23 under the title Three Wishes for Cinderella.
However, there was a commotion around Cinderella in Norway. The iDnes server reported on November 30 that a version without a scene in which two men would kiss each other would go to Czech cinemas. Specifically, the sentence “And the Czech distributor assures that in the domestic version, unlike the Norwegian, the mentioned homosexual kiss will not appear”. The information was subsequently taken over by the outraged organizers of the Mezipatra queer film festival, who accused the distributor of censorship on Facebook: One of the largest distributors in the Czech Republic, BONTONFILM, is behind the change. We strongly disagree with this decision, which returns our company to the past. “
Bontonfilm objected that it did not censor anything. That he will release an international version of the film, which was offered to him by the Norwegian side. That he can only speculate why the Norwegians do not want to present a film with a gay kiss in the Czech Republic. He’s probably afraid it would hurt him – and he’ll try to negotiate with the producer so that the full version can go to the cinema. Which is said to have succeeded in the end, and the day before Christmas Eve we will be able to test whether a Czech viewer can kidnap one gay kiss in a fairy tale considered a part of the domestic film and Christmas tradition. But then came another joint statement from Norwegian producers, Czech executive production and a Czech distributor. According to him, there was always only one “uncensored” version. The Czech distributor simply got it wrong and considered the working version to be an international version without a kiss…
There is no need to make this an investigative case. But something interesting is revealing about the whole thing, which will quickly disappear from the media and Facebook discussion forums. For example, in post-socialist society, the word censorship should be treated twice as carefully. And never purposefully to pursue one’s own goals. Bontonfilm logically resists that it did not censor anything. And he’s right about that. The idea that the local distributor somehow cuts the film, which is the main idea of censorship associated with the film, does not make sense and speaks of ignorance of the functioning of the film industry. An official explanation that there is a “Norwegian” version with a kiss and another for the Eastern European market without a kiss would make sense. Vojtěch Konečný, Bontonfilm’s program manager, stated on Facebook: “The offered version did not contain a scene with a kiss (…) he didn’t pause – why too? “
The existence of different versions of the film for different markets is not an exceptional practice. The producer thinks economically and pragmatically. It tries to reduce the potential risk that could negatively affect the attendance of the film. And different markets have different specifics. Sometimes even the approval authorities that the film has to go through. In the 1930s, Hollywood studios watched for the British market to portray God. In the 1980s, German viewers saw a different version of the Death Trap in cinemas than others – German terrorists became members of the Irish Republican Army. Forty-five minutes of sexual, violent, and drug scenes have disappeared from Wall Street’s Wolf of the United Arab Emirates. In Iron Man 3 for China, there are added scenes where Chinese Doctors will save Tony Stark ‘s life. Adam Sandler’s comedy Pixels, on the other hand, lacks an attack on the Great Wall of China, in which it would be clear that he would not have passed the Chinese approval authorities.
At Cinderella, interested parties now claim that no version existed without a modernization kiss. But then it’s a little strange that Bontonfilm saw a version with a dance of boys, but the kiss didn’t have time to fit in anymore. Long-term reputation is more important.
It is quite hypothetical that a Norwegian producer has judged that it would be better if he misses a gay kiss for the Czech or Polish market. Why complicate the situation with one small scene, most of which will not stop in Norway, but which could be controversial elsewhere. Today’s Poland, where the film is going in addition to the Czech Republic or Austria, is certainly not a country promised to homosexuals and other sexual minorities.
The Czechia is not exactly tolerant of San Francisco in the 1960s either. Same-sex parent couples are still considered a deviance from a sacred “traditional” family. Homosexuality is associated with pedophilia. Even the discussions under the article on iDnes or the Facebook statute of Mezipater did not exactly reflect a tolerant society. It was necessary to learn that “unnatural LGBT propaganda” or “sick people” did not belong in fairy tales or that a kiss between two men spoiled children. In addition, Cinderella is “our” and any “novelties” are generally quite difficult to bear here.
Whatever version is true, it might be worth thinking about what reactions this “case” provoked in our country, and why the Czechia sees someone from the outside as a country where the kiss of two men is a problem.