This week in BBFC guidelines: angry swearing, coked up babies and dangerous themes

Monday December 12th 2011


Rated 15 for very strong language, strong sex, a gory accident scene & drug use

If you think Margaret‘s current distribution strategy is limited, just imagine how restrictive it might have been had the film slipped into the 18 category. Such a result would not be altogether surprising: in telling his delicate, nuanced story of one girl’s troubled adolescence, director Kenneth Lonergan inadvertently broke the BBFC’s golden rule and included more than two uses of the word ‘cunt’. Luckily, common sense prevailed and the film passed at 15, albeit with the entirely nonsensical justification that the uses of the word are ‘angry rather than aggressive or threatening’.


Rated 18 for child sexual abuse theme

When The Human Centipede 2 was briefly banned earlier this year, the BBFC cited the film’s themes (sadomasochism, sexual violence and, ironically, censorship) as the main reason for their decision. This implication — that certain ideas and concepts are entirely off limits to filmmakers, no matter how carefully they’re dealt with — is a worrying one. Markus Schleinzer’s haunting pedophile procedural Michael, which contains no on-screen sexual abuse whatsoever, has just passed at 18 for its ‘theme’ alone, suggesting that even the discussion of child abuse is now considered unsuitable for anyone 17 or under.


Rated 18 for frequent drug use

Who’da thunk it? Against all odds, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas has an awful lot of ‘uncritical’ drug use in it, which makes it an automatic 18 in the BBFC’s book. In an effort to step things up a notch they’ve also added ‘a baby who is exposed to various substances including cocaine and ecstasy’ but if that sounds a little extreme don’t worry: the original film’s penchant for ‘infrequent female breast nudity’ is alive and well in this new entry. Incidentally, Harold and Kumar 4: Infrequent Female Breast Nudity is slated for a Winter 2013 release.


Rated 12A for infrequent strong language

The most sober movie ever made about the drunkest night of the year has little to upset the censors, but it does provide this week’s most entertaining list of mild obscenities. They are: ‘crappy’, ‘shit’, ‘screw’, ‘damn’, ‘pissed’, ‘ass’, ‘hell’ and ‘bitch’. Feel free to print the list out and cross each word off as you hear it — it should make New Year’s Eve about 3000% more engaging.


Rated 15 for strong violence

No round up of December’s cinematic offerings would be complete without Hero Hitler in Love, which — by the way — has already made over £46,000 at the UK box office. Sadly, those of us who don’t live near the Feltham Cineworld will have to make do with the scant information available from the BBFC, and curse the regional programming gods for denying us the ‘scene in which the hero plunges a wooden stake into the heart of a villainous henchman, after which he shoots several other villains in the chest with his gun, resulting in blood spurts.’