Disney bought Fox a few years ago in 2019, thus inheriting a catalog with many movies that were made for adults. This has put them in a uniquely difficult position as they figure out what to put on their platforms, usually reserved for family films. 

Ever since the demise of physical media, we've seen companies swoop in to overreach and change things within film and TV shows, but Disney has been especially active. theytook out the butt in Splashand then put it back in, and now they've messed with The French Connection

Well, we presume they messed with it since they are the owners of the film. All we know is that a 52-second piece of the film was removed due to the words Gene Hackman's character of Popeye Doyle speaks within it. 

Before we dive in, let's be upfront about something: Disney has cut a scene in the movie that included a terrible racial slur. Still, it's a scene that shows us cops being racist, a core tenant for the reality of the world, and the establishment of our lead character of Popeye Doyle, who isn't a good guy but gets things done inside this morally complicated film. 

It's a frank scene that shows us a world that is not squeaky clean. It's dark, cynical, and awful. 

This censorship came to light when the film was screened recently, and an audience member noticed that change. Viewers noted this change also carried over to the Criterion Channel streaming version of the movie as well. 

Disney has not commented on whether or not they consulted with director William Friedkin on the change. We are not aware if the Criterion brand knew of the change when putting the movie on their streaming service. 

This is a slippery slope of censorship that makes me worried about the overreach of studios sanitizing older work. It feels like precedence can be set to make audiences feel comfortable instead of making them deal with adult themes and realities portrayed in these movies.  

We've seen networks like TCM and even Max air trigger warnings and content warnings with explanations before movies to tell you that they were made in a different time and with different values. 

But I think changing a character's heart is a vast and extremely worrisome bit because it denies the story of the movie itself. It completely undermines a part of the character that's supposed to be judged by the audience. we're supposed to see him as a violent racist that we don't like but watch. William Friedkin said of the character, "I don't celebrate that behavior, but I'm fascinated by it."

These kinds of complicated movies should be left for us to study. We should be able to watch them and hope the world has changed, and then address what hasn't changed in the world. By taking out the ugly parts we're being disingenuous to the raw experience that should make us morally judge the people in this film. It unintentionally turns these men into heroes when they should be examined along with the villains of the story. 

Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Source: Hollywood Elsewhere