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Acropolis Museum movie won't be cut; thank you, YouTube?

August 4, 2009 | 10:30 am

Never underestimate the power of YouTube to leapfrog over a censor's red tape.

The latest example involves a battle between Oscar-winning filmmaker Costa-Gavras and the newly opened Acropolis Museum in Greece.

Last week, the director asked to withdraw his credit from an animated short that the museum was showing as part of a larger film about the history of the Parthenon. Officials at the museum had reportedly removed a scene from Costa-Gavras' movie after the Greek Orthodox Church objected to what it saw as a depiction of Christian priests destroying parts of the ancient temple.

But on Tuesday, the Acropolis Museum said it had reversed its decision to cut the film after days of picketing and the threat of a lawsuit.

In the controversial scene, animated figures ascend ladders to destroy the Parthenon frieze. The scene is based on regular occurrences from the Byzantine era, during which Christians would lay waste to pagan temples and structures. A good part of the controversy surrounds what the animated figures are wearing -- some say their black cloaks suggest they represent clergy from the Christian church.

Costa-Gavras, who is no stranger to controversy thanks to his movies "Z" and "Missing," told Greek television that this is the type of censorship "that used to happen in the former Soviet Union."

The Acropolis Museum, which officially opened in June, had released a statement from its director stating that the cut was made in "an effort to eliminate misunderstanding" and was "not censorship at all."

Recently, some eager Web surfers posted a version of Costa-Gavras' movie on YouTube (see above) so the whole world could see what the fuss was all about. The clip, originally posted by the site zougla.gr, features the offending scene at around the 1-minute 45-second mark.

-- David Ng

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