"Birth Of A Nation"
Director: D.W. Griffith
A feature-length silent movie about the chaos in the South after the Civil War. It depicts the Ku Klux Klan in a good light; some say the film revived the group, which had been dormant until the year of its release. Despite protests, it was a blockbuster for its time and remains admired for its pioneering film techniques.
Credit: Image Ent.
"Triumph of the Will"
Director: Leni Riefenstahl
Released: 1934 The most notorious example of film propaganda, this documentary of a Nazi Party rally helped popularize Hitler. The film remains controversial yet is widely studied for its pioneering filmmaking techniques.
Credit: Connoisseur/Meridian Films
"Last Tango In Paris"
Director: Bernardo Bertolucci
Legendary film critic Pauline Kael called the film "The most powerfully erotic movie ever made."
Credit: MGM/UA Studios
Director: Louis Malle
Actress Brooke Shields, age 12, plays a child prostitute living in New Orleans' Storyville section in the early 1900s. Canada banned the film, objecting to the theme of child prostitution.
Director: Tinto Brass
This sex-and-violence strewn movie about the crazed Roman emperor billed itself as "the most controversial film in history."
Credit: Image Entertainment
"Life of Brian"
Director: Terry Jones
The story of a man born in Old Jerusalem who's mistaken for the Messiah, many religious leaders saw nothing funny about this raucous satire.
Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment
"Last Temptation Of Christ"
Director: Martin Scorsese
Crowds protested this film based on advance word that it was blasphemous, taking particular issue with dream sequences that attempted to portray Christ's humanness.
Credit: Criterion Collection
"The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover"
Director: Peter Greenaway
This story takes place at a London crime boss' upscale restaurant and includes scenes of graphic sexuality, torture and cannibalism. Some critics praised the director's vision, while others labeled it "gratuitous" and "disgusting."
Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment
"Henry and June"
Director: Philip Kaufman
Taken from the racy diaries of Anais Nin, this was the first movie to carry the NC-17 rating.
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Gay activists picketed this film over Sharon Stone's portrayal of a bisexual murderer.
Credit: Artisan Entertainment
"Natural Born Killers"
Director: Oliver Stone
This tale of two lovers on a serial killing spree was presented as a comment on American mass media, and some audiences immediately found its graphic violence distasteful. But the real controversy came when it inspired several copycat murders in the years that followed its release.
Credit: WARNER BROS.
Director: Larry Clark
This indie film focuses on decadent, hopeless Manhattan teens who have lots of sex and drugs and little parental supervision. It was released in the United States without a rating.
Director: Adrian Lyne
Vladimir Nabokov's well-known story of pedophilia was banned in several countries when it was published in the '50s, and Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film version also drew protest. The tale fared no better over 30 years later, and Lyne's film version was unable to secure a U.S. distributor.
Director: Mary Harron
The 1991 book on which this is based, featuring brutal, lengthy scenes of violence against women at the hands of a New York serial killer, created a firestorm in the publishing world. The movie drew protest as well, although some felt its female director's darkly comic take on the tale made it less problematic.
Credit: Ap/Lions Gate
"The Passion of the Christ"
Director: Mel Gibson
The film depicts in gruesome detail the final hours of Christ's life. Critics said it fosters anti-Semitism by unfairly blaming Jews for Jesus' death.
Credit: AP / Marquis Films Ltd.
Director: Michael Moore
The two-hour documentary depicts President Bush as asleep at the wheel prior to the Sept. 11 attacks. It also accuses the Bush administration of fanning terrorism fears to win support for the Iraq war. The top winner at Cannes, it was No. 1 at the box office on its opening weekend despite a boycott by conservative groups.