Russia cuts gay scenes out of ‘Rocketman’

Gregory Wakeman
Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman

Russian film distributor Central Partnership has reportedly cut all of the gay scenes out of Rocketman, the recently released Elton John biopic.

Around five minutes of the film have been left of the cutting room floor because of laws in the country that ban “homosexual propaganda.” It has also been alleged that scenes showing Elton’s drug use have been cut, too.

Russian film critic Anton Dolin was the first to reveal these alterations, taking to Facebook to write that “all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out.” Dolin had seen the original version of Rocketman earlier this month, so was instantly able to see the changes.

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However, Dolin was particularly insulted and aggrieved by the decision to change the concluding “caption” of Rocketman, writing, “the nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale.”

In the final sequence of Rocketman the film offers an update on the life of Elton John, revealing that the musician lives with his husband and that they are raising children. In the Russian version the conclusion merely notes that John continues to write with his musical partner Bernie Taupin and that he set-up an Aids foundation.

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 16: Sir Elton John and Taron Egerton attend the "Rocketman" Gala Party during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Clearly embarrassed by the actions of his country, Dolin concluded his Facebook post by writing, “Sorry, Sir Elton.”

On Friday, Russia’s Culture Ministry denied any involvement in the removal of these scenes, telling Interfax that it was “solely the film distributor’s decision” to do so.

Amnesty International quickly condemned the editing of Rocketman, calling it “yet another example of Russia’s ‘gay propaganda law’ undermining freedom of expression and encouraging homophobia in Russia.”

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Natalia Zviagina, the company’s Russia Office Director, added, “This homophobic censorship of a film about Elton John is as ridiculous as it is insulting for LGBTI people and anyone in the country who stands for dignity and non-discrimination.”

“By censoring any expression of affection between two human beings of the same sex, this mutilated version of the film insults and dehumanises same-sex relationships.”