Russian editing of Elton John film slammed

Scenes showing homosexuality and drug use have been cut from the Elton John biopic in Russia.
Scenes showing homosexuality and drug use have been cut from the Elton John biopic in Russia.

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.

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.

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".

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.

Australian Associated Press