30 of the most controversial films of all time

These movies have taboo storylines, graphic sex scenes, and gruesome violence

Viridiana (1961)

30 of the most controversial films of all time 15

Spanish-Mexican film Viridiana tells the story of the titular young nun (Silvia Pinal) whose faith is sorely tested during a visit to the estate of her widowed uncle, Jaime (Fernando Rey). Grateful for Jaime’s longtime financial support, Viridiana reluctantly complies with his odd request for her to don his wife’s wedding gown but soon finds her worst fears proven when Jaime grows determined to seduce her.

After the official newspaper of the Vatican described the film as “blasphemous,” probably partly because of a scene in which a bunch of vagrants reenact The Last Supper, dictator Francisco Franco tried to have the Luis Buñuel-directed film withdrawn and banned its release in Spain. Though Franco’s attempt to ban the movie in Spain was unsuccessful, the film was not released in Vatican until 1977 after his death.

Despite all the controversy surrounding the movie, it actually won the Palme d’Or at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival and even won the Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association. Viridiana was also voted the 37th greatest film of all time in the directors’ poll of the British Film Institute’s 2012 Sight & Sound issue.