DVD Picks: Banned Books Week

by Terri Robar, Learning & Research Services

This week, from September 25 to October 1, the UM Libraries have been celebrating Banned Books Week. It is a celebration of the triumph of our freedom of expression. The movies on this list are all based on books that we are featuring in our displays in the Richter Library. The captions for each movie include the information on when and where the book was banned or challenged.

The following films are a part of Richter Library’s DVD collection. In addition to the thousands of DVDs spanning comedy, drama, sci-fi, horror, documentary, and other genres, UM Libraries also houses film-related materials such as screenplays, soundtracks, musical scores, and original book titles. Search the catalog to browse music and print resources related to these films.

The book was burned in Alamagordo, New Mexico, in 2001 for being “satanic.” In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him and, though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, still it remained lost to him. After many ages, it fell, by chance, into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

The book was banned in public schools in Chicago, Illinois, in 2013. In 1970s Iran, Marjane “Marji” Satrapi watches events through her young eyes and her idealistic family. Their long-held dream is realized when the hated Shah is defeated in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Now ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, Marji grows up to witness first-hand how the new Iran has become a repressive tyranny on its own.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Goffstown, New Hampshire, in 2011. In the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her sister’s place in the televised event in which one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts are chosen to fight to the death until one victor remains.

The book was banned in high school classrooms in Raceland, Louisiana, in 2008. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare.

The book was challenged in schools in Morganton, North Carolina, in 2008. An uneducated woman living in the rural American south who was raped by her father, deprived of the children she bore him, and forced to marry a brutal man she calls “Mister,” is transformed by the friendship of two remarkable women, acquiring self-worth and the strength to forgive.

The book was challenged in middle schools in Brentwood, Tennessee, in 2006. The setting is a dusty Southern town during the Depression. A white woman accuses a black man of rape. Though he is obviously innocent, the outcome of his trial is such a foregone conclusion that no lawyer will step forward to defend him–except the town’s most distinguished citizen.

The book series holds the record for being the most frequently challenged title in the U.S. for the decade of 2000-2009. Rescued from the outrageous neglect of his aunt and uncle, a young boy with a great destiny proves his worth while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The book was banned in high schools in Nampa, Idaho, in 2012. After Tita is forced to make the cake for the wedding of the man she loves and her own sister, the guests are overcome with sadness. Tita has discovered she can do strange things with her cooking.

The book was challenged in public schools in Olathe, Kansas, in 2007. In the Great Depression, George and Lennie, two displaced migrant ranch workers, dream of the autonomy of owning and operating their own ranch someday.

The book was challenged in high schools in Orono, Maine, in 2006. The fascinating true story of a young woman’s life-altering stay at a famous psychiatric hospital in the late 1960s.

The book was banned in high schools in Coventry, Rhode Island, in 2000. Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time. An otherwise typical soldier in WWII, without warning, he jumps back and forth in his life with no control over where he is going next.

The book was challenged in public schools in Lubbock, Texas, in 2008. In a parallel world where witches soar the skies and Ice Bears rule the frozen North, one special girl is destined to hold the fate of the universe in her hands.