Following the news that Rocketman’s queer love scenes will be cut in Russia, both Elton John and Taron Egerton have publicly denounced the censorship.
In a joint statement, John and the filmmakers “reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market,” something they say they were unaware of until Friday. “Paramount Pictures have been brave and bold partners in allowing us to create a film which is a true representation of Elton’s extraordinary life, warts and all. 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.”
Paramount also released a statement, saying they “are incredibly proud of the movie that we made, which is told in the way that Elton John wanted his story to be depicted. We are releasing the film in its entirety around the world regardless of rating, but like all studios, we must adhere to local laws and requirements in certain territories in which the film is being shown.”
Egerton, who stars as the queer musical icon in the film, shared his own statement on Instagram, admitting that he was “crestfallen that the decision was made to censor our movie for the Russian market. I’m even more disappointed to hear about it second hand today on the day of our domestic release. I in no way condone this decision and feel disappointed I wasn’t made aware and given the chance to fight this move. Love is love. No compromises.”
The film, rated R in the US, features one major sex scene between Elton John and John Reid (Richard Madden). According to Gay Times, an unnamed Russian journalist confirmed on Facebook that “all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out.” Russia, of course, has a long history of state-sponsored homophobia, making Rocketman’s censorship disappointing but unsurprising.