This week in voluntarily censored movie releases

Saturday March 27th 2010

I know we said we wouldn’t do too many more BBFC-related posts, but we thought this was at least worth a mention. More and more often we’re starting to see this message on the BBFC’s website:

During post-production, the distributor sought and was given advice on how to secure the desired classification. Following this advice, certain changes were made prior to submission.

It’s a slightly more polite way of saying that the film has been cut (and one that fits in more neatly with the BBFC’s new anti-censorship image) but it’s interesting to see the extent to which filmmakers are willing to alter their films to tap into a specific market. This week alone, two films have undergone the process…

Contains infrequent strong language, moderate sex and violence, and smoking

A surprising amount of naughty stuff actually made it through here, including but not limited to: two fucks; some bitch’s, pricks, pussys and wankers; a ‘discreetly portrayed’ sex scene; a murder (bloodless) and some ‘frequent smoking’.

Removed from the film in order to achieve a 12A rating were a ‘strong verbal sex reference’ to ‘being sodomised’ and ‘a scene of strong violence in which the hero continues to beat a man who has already been knocked to the ground’.

It seems slightly hypocritical to disallow a clinical word like ‘sodomised’ while letting through slang expletives like ‘fuck’, ‘prick’ and ‘pussy’. And surely the beating of the man on the ground (removed presumably because it’s not ‘sportsmanlike’) isn’t quite as bad as an actual murder?

Contains suicide theme and strong sex references

Chatroom is a very ‘contemporary’ movie about online interaction, specifically amongst teenagers. The BBFC are being quite brave here, allowing through several depictions of suicide, self-harming and paedophiliac online sex chats. Basically, it’s like Chatroulette: The Movie.

Interestingly, Chatroom was sent to the BBFC ‘at the script stage’. They deemed that the film was likely to be passable at 15, but made the following suggestions:

  • ‘scenes featuring child actors should not be filmed in such a way as to sexualise the performers.’
  • ‘scenes featuring suicides should be kept discreet and novel detail which could be copied should be avoided.’
  • ‘[some] specific lines of sexual dialogue should be removed or changed.’

Should the BBFC really be getting involved in script development and making creative decisions about the way a movie is shot?

It’s times like this that a ‘comments’ features would be handy.