Elton John has hit out at Russia after they released a censored version of his biopic, Rocketman. Picture: Getty Images
Elton John has hit out at Russia after they released a censored version of his biopic, Rocketman. Picture: Getty Images

Elton hits out after Russia censors Rocketman

Russian gay rights activists have criticised the local distributor of the Elton John movie Rocketman for cutting scenes depicting homosexual activity and drug use.

Moscow's Pioner cinema, noted for its adventurous programming, said it would ask for an original cut of the movie with Russian subtitles.

But the cinema said on Sunday it had not received a response from the distributor.

Russian news agencies reported that the distributor said scenes were cut to conform with Russian law, but added the ministry of culture had denied involvement.

Elton John and Taron Egerton, who stars in Rocketman. Picture: Matrix Pictures
Elton John and Taron Egerton, who stars in Rocketman. Picture: Matrix Pictures

The Russian LGBT Network said: "In this way, the Russian distributor indirectly supports homophobia. We urge people not to support such a policy and not to go see the Russian version of the film."

Trailers for the Russian version of Rocketman, which stars Taron Egerton, showed it carried an 18 rating.

"So, one day we woke up in Saudi Arabia," film critic Anton Dolin said on Facebook, criticising the cuts.

He said the "most repellent" aspect of the cuts was the removal of the statement at the end of the movie that Elton eventually found "the love of his life" and has raised children with the man he married in 2014.

Nonetheless, Dolin said, "the theme of the hero's homosexuality is still central in the film". Ksenia Sobchak, a liberal TV star who ran for president in 2016, said purging all homosexual content from a film about the singer would make it meaningless.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2015 he’d be willing to meet Elton to discuss the country’s gay “propaganda” laws, but no meeting has taken place. Picture: AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin said in 2015 he’d be willing to meet Elton to discuss the country’s gay “propaganda” laws, but no meeting has taken place. Picture: AP

A joint statement from Elton and the filmmakers said "that the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended, is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people".

"We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world," the statement read.

Elton has previously criticised Russia's law on gay "propaganda" and comments by President Vladimir Putin that suggested gay people prey on children. In 2015, phone pranksters tricked Elton into believing he was talking to Putin about the issue.

Putin actually later called the musician and said he would be willing to meet to discuss the matter, but no meeting has taken place.


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