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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Qatar bans The Girl on the Train from cinemas

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The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train

The recently-launched psychological thriller The Girl on the Train will not be shown in Qatar’s cinemas, operators said today.

The film was due to be screened for the first time in Qatar last Friday, but cinema companies told Doha News that authorities asked them to not run it.

Trailers for the film show sex scenes, and the story revolves around the main character’s drinking problem.

This is the second film to be banned in Qatar this year.

In January, The Danish Girl was withdrawn from cinema listings with no official reason given.

The British film, featuring Eddie Redmayne, portrayed the life of a transgender Danish artist in the 1920s who undergoes one of the world’s first known sex reassignment surgeries.

The ban followed complaints from residents on social media, who criticized the movie for its “moral depravity.”

No official word

Speaking to Doha News, a representative from City Center’s Grand Cinecentre said they have not received any official reasons from the censorship board for the ban.

The cinema also stated that the film’s censorship certificate has not been released yet, but that the ban has been in effect since the weekend.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s Ministry of Culture and Sports declined to comment to Doha News, but said it would provide an official statement on Monday.

The movie has also been banned in Kuwait.

Because the film was pulled at the last minute, several theaters still have it listed as playing on their websites, including at Villaggio, City Center, Al Khor and Gulf malls.

Novo Cinemas is even still tweeting about it, though the film has been removed from its site:

https://twitter.com/NovoCinemasQTR/status/785057386155372544

What it’s about

The Girl on the Train has received mixed reviews by critics.

Based on the debut novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins, the film’s main character Rachel (played by Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic who divorced her husband after she caught him cheating on her.

She fantasizes about the lives of a couple Megan and Scott she sees from her commuter train every day.

One day, Megan goes missing and is presumed dead, and Rachel finds herself being pulled into the investigation.

Reaction

The ban has upset some movie-goers in the community.

Over the weekend, one resident tried to watch the movie at City Center:

Many viewers weren’t surprised, given how frequently movies are censored in Qatar.

Censorship

Explicit content or religious themes are typically the main reasons movies are banned or censored here.

Two years ago, The Wolf of Wall Street – which featured many gratuitous sex scenes, swearing and drug use – had nearly one-quarter of its scenes (or 50 minutes) cut out before it was shown in Qatar.

Wolf of Wall Street
Wolf of Wall Street

More recently, Qatar’s censors banned two biblical films, 2014’s Noah and Exodus.

While specific rules about what is regarded as permissible content remain unclear, there does appear to be strong support for removing adult content from films before they are screened in the country.

According to a 2014 survey by Northwestern University in Qatar, 80 percent of respondents said it’s appropriate to delete scenes that could be considered offensive.

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