The Most Controversial Films About Religion

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These 10 films offended, challenged, and sparked debate in faith communities all over the globe.

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Newmarket Films

People have been meditating on the image of a nearly nude and bound Saint Sebastian for centuries. The martyr is usually depicted with arrows piercing his flesh, bearing a rapturous expression—the subtext of which has inspired numerous writings and artworks, depicting the saint as an icon of queer culture. Derek Jarman's 1976 movie Sebastiane explored similar themes, focused on the sexual/spiritual agony and ecstasy between two Roman soldiers. Severus's lustful obsession with Sebastiane provokes him to torture the unattainable man, and the intersection of longing, faith, and violence is lyrically captured by the director (translated in Vulgar Latin, even). The film's homoeroticism and striking realism caused a controversy among religious groups. Since the film has arrived on Blu-ray, we wanted to explore other contentious studies of spirituality.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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