Visions of Ecstasy

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Visions of Ecstasy
Visions of Ecstasy UK DVD cover.JPG
UK DVD cover
Directed by Nigel Wingrove
Produced by John Stephenson
Written by Nigel Wingrove
Starring Louise Downie
Elisha Scott
Dan Fox
Music by Steven Severin
Cinematography Ricardo Coll
Edited by Steve Graham
Release date
  • 1989 (1989)
Running time
18 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Visions of Ecstasy is a 1989 British short film that became the only work to be refused a certification by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) on the grounds of blasphemy.[1] The film, which was directed by Nigel Wingrove, was banned because it featured sexualised scenes of Saint Teresa of Ávila with the body of Jesus on the cross. The BBFC felt that any release of the film could be liable for prosecution under the common law offence of blasphemous libel.

As cutting the scenes would remove approximately half of the film's content, the board decided to refuse certification altogether. The distributor appealed to the European Court of Human Rights but the BBFC's decision to reject certification was upheld.[2]

In 2008 the blasphemy laws in the UK were repealed. In January 2012 the BBFC gave the film an 18 certificate with no cuts or alterations to the original film's content.[3]


A secondary school science teacher was arrested for selling Wingrove's Visions of Ecstasy in February 1992 in Birmingham. Michael Newman, an atheist, then repeated the act of selling the video in public near to Canterbury Cathedral. This led to a debate with the Bishop of Rochester[who?] on BBC Radio Kent. Newman later resigned as a teacher following protests from Christian parents. Newman also made an appearance on Channel Four’s Comment in August 1992.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Visions of Ecstasy gets UK rating after 23 year ban". BBC News. Retrieved 2012-01-31. 
  2. ^ Wingrove v. The United Kingdom, (1997) 24 EHRR 1, [1996] ECHR 17419/90
  3. ^ "Visions of Ecstasy rated 18 by the BBFC". BBFC. Retrieved 31 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Smith, Warren Allen (2000). Who's Who in Hell, A Handbook and International Directory for Humanists, Freethinkers, Naturalists, Rationalists, and Non-Theists. New York: Barricade Books. ISBN 1-56980-158-4. 

External links[edit]