Controversial short film Visions of Ecstasy has been granted an 18 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification after being banned for “blasphemous libel” for 23 years.
The film, which contains, in the Board’s words, “a sequence in which a figure representing St Teresa of Avila interacts sexually with a figure representing the crucified Christ”, was refused a certificate when it was submitted in 1989 because its release may have constituted “an offence under the common law test of blasphemous libel”.
Following the ban, the film became a frequently cited test case for anti-censorship campaigners, and its distributors filed a futile appeal with the European Court of Human Rights to overturn the BBFC’s decision.
However, in 2008 the UK’s blasphemy laws were reviewed and Visions of Ecstasy’s director, Nigel Wingrove, was invited to resubmit the film.
Despite the publicity his work received following the Board’s ban, the furore put Wingrove off any further attempts at film-making. The director told AP: “It was my second self-financing film and had it not been banned I would have continued to make films, but that all got knocked sideways and had a huge impact on my career.”
Visions of Ecstasy will be released on DVD on Monday 26 March.