Metro Weekly

‘God’s Own Country’ distributor Samuel Goldwyn censors film on Prime Video

Scenes were removed by the distributor to avoid an explicit rating on Prime Video

God’s Own Country

Francis Lee, the director of the gay romantic film God’s Own Country, took umbrage after learning that some of the sex scenes in the 2017 movie had been removed on streaming platforms.

The movie, which stars Josh O’Connor and Alec Secăreanu, chronicles the relationship between a sheep farmer in Britain’s Yorkshire region and a Romanian migrant worker. Due to the film’s exploration of homosexuality, the film was banned in some Arab and Eastern European countries.

Lee took to Twitter on Wednesday to call out Amazon Prime, which he believed was responsible for deleting the scenes.

“Dear friends in USA, God’s Own Country appears to have been censored on @PrimeVideo (Amazon Prime),” he tweeted. “Until this is investigated please do not rent or buy on Amazon Prime. It is not the film I intended or made. I will report back.”

Lee followed up with a tweet asking viewers in the U.S. if they had any evidence of Amazon Prime censoring naked women, or sex scenes within heterosexual stories on their streaming service, or whether it was just queer films that have been censored.

Some Twitter users pointed out that the version of the movie that streams for free for Amazon Prime members was censored, but the version available for purchase was unedited.

A representative for Amazon Prime later pushed back against Lee’s claim, telling the New York Daily News that Amazon Prime was not involved in censoring the movie, and that the edited version had been uploaded by the film’s distributor, Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Faced with this information, Lee reversed course and issued a follow-up tweet, writing, “After investigation God’s Own County was not censored by @PrimeVideo (Amazon USA) but by the US distributor @GoldwynFilms who butchered the streaming version without consultation to get more ‘revenue.’…

“The rental version of God’s Own Country on @PrimeVideo is the correct version of my film. I would like to thank Amazon Prime for being supportive and I would caution any film maker of working with the aforementioned ‘distributor.’ Thank you EVERYONE for all your support.”

According to IndieWire, a film industry and review website, sources close to Amazon Prime say that Goldwyn Films uploaded the movie through its Prime Video Direct service. But films uploaded through Prime Video Direct that contain depictions of pornography, nudity, or explicit depictions of sexual acts are labeled as featuring “sexually explicit content,” preventing the title from appearing on certain carousels on the Prime Video website. To avoid that, the sources allege, Goldwyn Films removed the controversial scenes, which allowed the film to bypass an explicit rating and increase the film’s visibility to Amazon Prime users.

The censored cut has since been removed from the streaming service, but the original theatrical version is still available for rent or purchase.

A spokesperson for Samuel Goldwyn Films did not respond to a request for comment.

Related:

Read: Our review of God’s Own Country

God’s Own Country: Exclusive interview with director Francis Lee

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Shelf Wood
John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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