Pugh, who is one piece of the stacked ensemble in Christopher Nolan's nuclear-era epic, took on the role of Jean Tatlock for the film, an American psychiatrist who becomes romantically entangled with J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy).
One of the biggest headlines leading into the film's release was that Pugh and Murphy would share several sex scenes in the film, becoming the first full nudity sex scenes to ever be shot on IMAX (via Variety).
Nolan previously mentioned he was "appropriately nervous" about including these sequences in the movie, but ultimately did, as he thought Oppenheimer's "sexuality, his way with women" was "an essential part of his story."
Oppenheimer Sex Scenes Bizarrely Censored
As Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer opened worldwide this past weekend, some moviegoers have noticed the film's sex scenes featuring Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh have been censored in a strange manner.
Various territories like India and Pakistan are showing an edited version of the film, covering up these sequences of sexual content.
This was done during the sex scenes themselves by zooming into Pugh's face throughout and blurring her back when she is being shot from behind.
Most bizarrely, however, is the digitally rendered dress that has been composited onto Pugh's body in one particular sequence, which includes the actress completely nude sitting in a hotel room chair.
Another scene in which Pugh's character is seen having sex with Murphy's J. Robert Oppenheimer in a board room full of people has been completely cut in some regions, according to a Reddit post on the subject.
Other bits of censorship (via Aroon Deep on Twitter) by the Central Board of Film Certification in India include the removal of the word "asshole" from the film's subtitles, as well as the insertion of anti-smoking PSAs at the beginning and middle of the movie, and static anti-smoking messages during scenes in which characters are smoking.
All this comes as Indian Nationalists call for the removal of the film's first sex scene, in which Murphy's Oppenheimer reads aloud from the sacred Hindu text, the Bhagavad Git, and the physicist's iconic quote, "I am become death. The destroyer of worlds."
Uday Mahurkar, the Information Commissioner for the government of India, called the sequence "a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus" in a statement released on Twitter:
"We do not know the motivation and logic behind this unnecessary scene on life of a scientist. But this is a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus, rather it amounts to waging a war on the Hindu community and almost appears to be part of a larger conspiracy by anti-Hindu forces."
Why Was Oppenheimer So Weirdly Censored?
Obviously, big blockbusters getting censored or outright banned in various parts of the world is nothing new. It happens all the time.
But the way in which this was done seems a little weird.
Rarely does one see this sort of effort being put into a film for the same of censorship. Usually, if something like this is going to be censored, it is just cut from the film no matter the importance to the plot.
But, obviously, it was important that most of these sequences remain in the movie, so the studio had to find a workaround.
As Christopher Nolan said, it was important to him that these sex scenes were a part of the film. The director previously told Insider (via Collider), he thought it was important that audiences "understand [Pugh and Murphy's characters'] relationship and to really see inside it" without "being coy or allusive about it:"
"It felt very important to understand their relationship and to really see inside it and understand what made it tick without being coy or allusive about it, but to try to be intimate, to try and be in there with him and fully understand the relationship that was so important to him."
Having these moments of intimacy in there was obviously very important to Nolan and the story he was telling. So, that is likely why all this was done: to prevent the scenes from being cut entirely.
Oppenheimer is playing in theaters worldwide now.