‘God’s Own Country’ has been censored by its US distributer, claims director

"It is not the film I intended or made"

God’s Own Country director Francis Lee has said that his film has been “butchered” by its US distributor, after previously stating that Amazon Prime had censored the release.

The filmmaker warned fans via Twitter earlier today (May 20), urging people not to buy or rent it on Prime “until this is investigated”.

“Dear friends in USA, God’s Own Country appears to have been censored on @PrimeVideo (Amazon Prime),” Lee’s tweet began.

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“Until this is investigated please do not rent or buy on Amazon Prime. It is not the film I intended or made. I will report back.”

In an email to NME, however, a spokesperson for Amazon later said that “Amazon Prime did not censor the movie”. They clarified that the film was made available to view on Prime Video Direct, “and as such the edited version was uploaded by the provider.”

Following up on his previous comments, Lee has now taken to Twitter to say that “after investigation” he’d found “God’s Own Country was not censored by Prime Video (Amazon USA) but by the US distributor [Samuel Goldwyn Films], who butchered the streaming version without consultation to get more ‘revenue’.”

He added: “The rental version of God’s Own Country on Prime Video is the correct version of my film. I would like to thank Amazon Prime for being supportive and I would caution any filmmaker of working with the aforementioned ‘distributor’. Thank you EVERYONE for all your support.”

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God’s Own Country frames a life-changing romance between gruff farmhand Johnny (Josh O’Connor) and Romanian migrant worker Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu) in the Yorkshire countryside.

While Lee didn’t specify which scenes had been censored, a Twitter user replied to the initial tweet explaining the version available to stream for free has been censored, while the one available for purchase is not.

“They cut most of the scene in the cattle trailer with Johnny and the trainee auctioneer and the same for the scene in the mud,” Dylan Sims wrote.

“I stopped watching after that because it was bugging me they’d done that so I don’t know if anything else was censored.”

In a four-star review of God’s Own Country from 2017, NME said, “Lee draws this faltering romance without sentiment but with a full heart.”

Up next, Lee has written and directed the period romance Ammonite, starring Saoirse Ronan and Kate Winslet. The film is due for release later this year.

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