Only three minutes, including four gay scenes, cut from Bohemian Rhapsody, says censorship board

Rami Malek as rock icon Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. — AFP pic
Rami Malek as rock icon Freddie Mercury in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. — AFP pic

PUTRAJAYA Nov 13 — The Malaysian Film Censorship Board (LPF) confirmed today that only three minutes of Bohemian Rhapsody’s runtime was cut after moviegoers claimed that up to 24 minutes of the film had been snipped off.

Its chairman Mohd Zamberi Abdul Aziz told Malay Mail that a total of 12 scenes were cut, four of which involved gay moments.

“These cuts totalled up to 180 seconds.

“Seven involved muting bad words (mostly one second cuts) while the four gay scenes involved moments such as men kissing each other, men rubbing each other, and a group of men in dresses partying in a mansion.

“Another scene removed was the post credit scene which stated Freddie Mercury and Jim Hutton lived a happy life because it showed that they were in a gay relationship,” Zamberi told Malay Mail in an interview.

Malaysian moviegoers also claimed the music video I Want to Break Free and the scene where Mercury explained to his fiancee, Mary Austin, that he is bisexual were removed.

The biopic on Freddie Mercury and British rock band Queen received a PG-13 rating in United States and United Kingdom, but to moviegoers surprise in Malaysia, it was rated as 18 upon its release on November 6.

“On September 27, the distributors approached us and after reviewing it we decided to give it an 18 rating as we had to adhere to the guidelines set (http://lpf.moha.gov.my/lpf/images/Perundangan/GARIS_PANDUAN_PENAPISAN_FILEM(1).pdf),” Zamberi said.

“We had to follow these guidelines, because if we didn’t, Malaysians would not be able to watch it at cinemas nationwide as it would have been banned.

“Anything related to LGBT or promoting it will not be approved, and because we know it’s a movie which people wanted to watch we only cut very few scenes per the guideline,” he said, using the abbreviation for ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender’.

Zamberi also explained how ratings vary from country to country and hoped that Malaysians understood the need for the altered rating.

“If we maintained it at PG-13, it would have faced more cuts. I did not want that as I believe it would have affected the storyline. PG-13 would also mean simpler scenes such as alcohol consumption and kissing to be chopped off too.”

The LPF chairman also said that LPF does not plan to list out and publicise the number of scenes cut or altered as it would raise too many arguments among Malaysians.

“We have no plans yet to show the details of the cut or muted scenes before the release of a movie or during as it will raise more arguments due to our different views.

“One might not see a problem in cutting a particular scene, while another will have a different say. We’ll think about it in the future, but at present, no.”

The film directed by Dexter Fletcher and Bryan Singer stars Rami Malek (Mercury), Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello and Aidan Gillen.