KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 ― The Film Censorship Board (LPF) today said it did not censor scenes involving Jesus Christ from the Hollywood remake of Ben-Hur that was released locally on Thursday.
LPF chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid further said he did not recall seeing such scenes from the movie submitted, adding that it was possible the Malaysian version is a “different” version from those shown elsewhere.
“Maybe, but not by us, probably by producers when they sent the film to Malaysia, they already cut the scenes, they know (there's) some sensitivities,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
Abdul Halim said that filmmakers sometimes have different versions of their movies when exporting it to different regions.
Asked if the LPF made any cuts to the movie, Abdul Halim said he could not recall due to the number of submissions the board must approve, adding that he would have to refer to the official records on Monday.
But Abdul Halim was certain that the board did not remove the scenes that included Jesus, which were pivotal to the plot of the story.
“That one is for sure, I can’t remember about Jesus in that film,” he said.
Local viewers had taken to Facebook to complain of censorship of Ben-Hur, with scenes of Jesus forming key plot points allegedly taken out.
One Facebook user, Jasmine Sia, who watched the film on Friday night, said no scenes involving Jesus was shown at all.
“I felt cheated. The novel from which this movie is adapted is Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ. It means Jesus is central to the plot. It was censored so much the storyline made no sense! How did Judah's mother and sister get cured from leprosy?” she told Malay Mail Online when contacted today.
“No, they did not show anything with regards to healing. They just appeared at the end of the movie healed. That's why it made no sense. The original story was that when Jesus died, they got healed,” she added, estimating that about 20 minutes was cut out since the local screening for the two-hour film lasted 100 minutes.
She also confirmed that she did not see Rodrigo Santoro, the actor who played Jesus in the movie, at all in the local screening.
The local distributor of the film, United International Pictures (UIP) Malaysia, acknowledged on its official Facebook page that the local edition was not identical to that shown elsewhere, after one user named Jerry Terry Derulo pointed out that the runtime here was 11 minutes shorter than listed on movie database IMDB.
Checks online showed conflicting information on the movie’s runtime, however, ranging from 125 minutes to 150 minutes.
Derulo also complained that all scenes with Jesus Christ were missing from the movie.
“Hi Jerry Terry Derulo, thank you for attending the movie premiere last night. UIP Malaysia has to oblige local legal requirements and guidelines for the movie to be released. Nonetheless, we hope the movie was enjoyable and that you had fun. Thank you once again,” the film distributor wrote in response on Wednesday in the same comments thread on its official Facebook page.
More Facebook users have since been spotted making similar complaints, with one Christine Ooi Wai Ching saying that scenes on the crucifixion of Jesus were cut out.
Ben-Hur, a Hollywood remake of the award-winning 1959 epic, stars Jack Huston, Toby Kebbell, Rodrigo Santoro, Nazanin Boniadi, Ayelet Zurer and Morgan Freeman.
Ben-Hur depicts the fictional story of the titular character Judah Ben-Hur set against the time of events involving Jesus ― who is worshipped by Christians as the Son of God.