Many years ago, when I first moved to the UAE, I found it very odd that some of the films I watched at the movies here did not make any sense. I remember getting up from my seat extremely frustrated, with many questions unanswered. Either I was clearly too dumb to grasp the ingenious plot presented before me or the Director was utterly incompetent, right? Well, not exactly...
I soon learned that the National Media Council (NMC) is tasked with approving every single film for release. They hardly ever really ban a film from the big screens, but they do make cuts if they find some of the scenes conflict with local values.
In the UAE version of Bruce Almighty, for example, Morgan Freeman does not exist. Why? Because censors cut all depictions of God. So, how exactly is one supposed to understand that the reason why Bruce is almighty has to do with a certain scene where he meets God and gets all his powers?
Sex and the City was also not banned here, but after cutting all scenes of sexual nature, there was only about 30 minutes of film left to screen, so cinemas decided not to do it.
Jokes aside, I guess the UAE is very liberal, especially when compared to other countries in the GCC, some of which don't even have movie theaters. And I must admit that I've noticed a great deal of improvement on what was screened seven years ago and what is screened now.
I do, however, still try to make wise choices when I go to the movies. I mean, why bother watching some of them when so much will be cut out?
I am dying to check-out Gone Girl, but after reading some reviews and learning many of the important scenes involve nudity, I am just not sure. Plus, if rumors are true and there actually is a, let's say, very 'informal' scene starring Ben Affleck, perhaps I should just wait and see it in 3D somewhere else in the world.
If you are also in doubt, perhaps this review from The National might help: