By Chloe Darnaud
Music credits: In the Hall of the Mountain King
Fifty years ago, Blow Up was rated X by the British Board of Film Censors because of its “threesome scene” and “brief flashes of pubic hair”. In the UK, all films must be submitted to the BBFC, now British Board of Film Classification, for them to be watched and classified before they can hit cinemas.
Despite its new name, the BBFC banned Hate Crime in 2015 because of its storyline: the physical and sexual abuse of a Jewish family by Nazis. But director James Cullen Bressack, explains that the reason why he made the movie was to draw attention to the rising hate crimes, not to incite violence.
“Movies don’t make people kill other people. Movies make killers become more creative. If people have it within themselves to go and hurt somebody, a movie is not going to cause it, more comedies are made per year than horror movies and yet you don’t see people become funnier,” Bressack says.
“Movies don’t make people kill other people. Movies make killers become more creative.”
David Cooke, former director of the BBFC, was the one taking the final decisions on all film bans and classifications during the last 12 years. He explains the BBFC simply reflects the British morality, which can be tough to follow at times.
“I regretted the decision I made on the 18 rating of Blue Is the Warmest Colour. I wanted to give that film a 15 but there was no precedent in terms of guidelines for a film with a 10-minute lesbian sex scene with a 15 classification. But maybe at some point in the future the British public will be ready to have a film like that classified 15 rather than 18,” he says.best female newcomer
But classification issues don’t stop there. David Cooke also explains that sometimes the guidelines produce the wrong results. For example, the BBFC has a language rule that said there should only be four or five uses of the word ‘fuck’ in order to get a 12 rating rather than a 15. In The King’s Speech, there are two bursts when the future king does a lot of swearing as part of his speech therapy.
“I wanted to give that film a 15 but there was no precedent in terms of guidelines for a film with a 10-minute lesbian sex scene with a 15 classification.”
“We counted and there were about 17 uses of the word fuck,” he explains, “and I discovered that this had gone through the system with the technically correct classification of 15 but I thought that the rule had produced the wrong outcome. So I said it could have a 12 because the context of speech therapy was completely exceptional.”
Let’s face it, Brits are old-fashioned. With the existence of a state mandated censorship body, Britain, along with Ireland, is one of the strictest countries regarding film censorship in the EU. Despite continuing to censor films, which raises serious freedom issues, with the increasing demand for online regulators and censors, chances are the BBFC is here to stay.