24 May 2004

Troy at the movies - UAE-style

We had been putting off going to the movies after our first trip due to the unreasonable and brutal censorship of American Beauty, but when Troy came out we thought there probably wasn't much that could be chopped.

As it turned out, Troy was a very average movie (it's probably more enjoyable to just read this 15 minute synopsis instead), but the trip was memorable for something that didn't happen and some things that did, but were a bit unexpected:

We had been warned that due to the total dependence of Dubai inhabitants on their mobile phones they would be using them in the cinema, too. We heard horror stories of insistently ringing phones and conversations carried on at full volume. So we were prepared. But apart from a guy who was still chatting while getting seated before the movie started there was total silence.

The unexpected thing was cigarette advertisement. This has been banned in the UK for so long now that watching it felt slightly illicit, even if it still didn't make us want to go out and pick up the habit. It was just such a blast from the past, we almost felt like we were back sitting in the local flea pit as kids, having snuck in with fake ID to watch Star Wars.

After American Beauty we had learned a bit about local censorship. Swearing is fine, so is any kind of violence, and strangely the male kissing scene at the end of American Beauty was spared, but the slightest whiff of female nudity was mercilessly - and very crudely - removed from the movie. In the case of American Beauty it meant that the dream sequence in the sports hall with the rose petals was excised which made some of the later events totally incomprehensible. Troy only has a few scenes with female nudity (strangely Brad Pitt's naked arse was left intact, thank Goodness), but all of them were hacked in the crudest manner. The big surprise, though, was the audience reaction. The cuts were very obvious, like a fault in the film roll rather than a proper edit, and every time a scene was censored, the audience laughed, as if it was a good piece of unintentional comedy. People were amused by the patronising attitude reflected by the cuts rather than annoyed. It was a strange reaction.

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