“Constantly having to shield your eyes from horrible imagery”.

A film premiere in Sydney, Australia, has seen audiences walk out during particularity distressing scenes. 

The Nightingale, directed by Jennifer Kent was screened as part of the Sydney Film Festival last night to a sold-out audience of more than 1000 people.

However a lot of viewers couldn’t stomach the numerous confronting rape scenes and even took to yelling out criticism.

Set in 1825, the film focuses on a young Irish convict woman named Clare who has been sent to Australia, and chases a British officer with the help of an aboriginal guide.

The movie had received good reviews from critics, however the level of sexual violence in the film was clearly too much for viewers at the premiere.

It’s understood that there are as many as three scenes depicting rape in the first 20 minutes, which caused some viewers to walk out yell out criticism as the director sat in the audience.

One woman was even reportedly heard screaming: “She’s already been raped, we don’t need to see it again.”

Viewers also walked out during later scenes in the film that showed horrific levels of violence towards babies and children.

The cinemagoers in Sydney aren’t the only one’s who felt uncomfortable watching the violence, with some critics asking whether the level of detail is necessary.

“Vacuum-packing a non-stop supply of rapes, deaths and beatings into more than two hours is needlessly punishing and comes at the expense of character and story,” New York Post critic Johnny Oleksinski wrote.

“Constantly having to shield your eyes from horrible imagery — as the Sundance audience was — would seem to defy the whole point of watching a movie.”

FilmEra critic Chris Shortt called The Nightingale a “gruelling and grossly offensive misfire”.

“(Director) Kent subjects us to a disturbing frequency of rape scenes to the extent that it soon stops feeling like a jolt of brutal honesty and quickly becomes indulgent,” he wrote.

“If we weren’t aware of the historical atrocities committed by British soldiers across the colonies already, we certainly are by the fourth rape scene. What, then, of the fifth or the sixth?”

Despite the criticism, The Nightingale still received a sustained round of applause as the credits rolled, reports news.com.au