Celebrating The Censor

Friday 2 November 2012, 15:48

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

The British Board Of Film Classification is celebrating its centenary this month. I believe it's come a long way from the bad old days of cutting, damaging and controlling the films that we see - what do you think?

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    Comment number 1.

    Hi Mark,
    Just in relation to this post,i am a film student in Hartlepool, and we are planning a visit to London in January 2013. I am writing a report on funding of independent horror within the film industry and wondered , if possible, that you could spare some time for an interview. I am a mature student in my thirties, and like yourself have been a horror fan since i was a child and every time i go to a store or online, there seems to be an abundance of independent horror rubbish on the shelves, mostly something of the dead, or nazi stripper zombie builders from hell, im sure your familiar.
    My report will be constructive, and im planning to contact Kim Newman, and Alan Jones , as im a huge fan of the Italian genre also, as well as hoping to get a few comments from the master John Carpenter.
    If you are busy i appreciate it and thank you for your time.
    All the best
    Kev Harte

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    Comment number 2.

    The B.B.F.C. have gone from being an archaic body on a self defined crusade to protect the morals of the country and its populace to being a forward thinking and progressive organisation in a little over a decade. Where once they were a thing for all people enthralled by cinema to loathe they are now something we should proudly hold up as the model for all national film boards to follow. Just a shame it took so long!

    Sadly however their traditional underhanded mechanisms for deciding what we should or should not watch have simply been replaced by the actions of publishers who think nothing of hacking a film to pieces simply to get it a rating that they want or to protect their image as an upstanding member of the industry.

    Strange how we now have to look to the B.B.F.C. to lead the way!

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    Comment number 3.

    I think they're part of the solution, especially compared to the MPAA, whose rating system is quite badly flawed. For example, films with real visceral edge and power like 'Killer Joe' are condemned to financial failure in the US with the dreaded NC-17 certificate. The R rating is also flawed, it's regularly handed out undeservedly. Take 'The King's Speech', a 12 rated film in England, but R rated in the US for a bit of swearing. It seems the MPAA disregards context and just keeps a tally of the offending articles.

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    Comment number 4.

    The last ten years have been a welcomed change, but the nature of the role that the BBFC is involved in is enough to keep one on their guard. Currently, they seem to be doing a good and fair job, and I generally agree with you that they're protecting rather than censoring, unlike in the past, but how long that lasts is really up to us remaining vigilant. What will happen when they're seriously leant on by the government and busybodies? In the end, it'll be up to us to protect cinema. Still, for now, the BBFC is doing a relatively good job.

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    Comment number 5.

    Dear Dr. K

    I very much agree with Floundering's comment. Its amazing to think that the BBFC have changed so much in little over a decade. Finally we film lovers can watch what was once deemed scandalous... only to be controlled by none other then the studios and distibutors of film. Its ironic that the censor has now become the film studios who couldn't care less about morals and more about the revenue they can rake in. Censorship for financial gain.

    Which leads me onto the respectability for certification.The BBFC's classification system is still one of the best; I mean no matter whether a film is a '15' or an '18' certificate it can still achieve critical and commercial respectablility. However at the sametime, the certification has become a strange beast of its own. Take for example Prometheus, when there was news that the spiritual prequel to Alien was going for a 12 rating (PG-13 in the States) then fans became annoyed and wrote off the film as tame and hampered by studio interference. Thankfully the film got the 15 rating it deserved and we all could see the explicit scenes intacked.

    I wish to end this comment by stating that whilst the BBFC have grown up and moved with the times, the MPAA hasn't. I'm absolutely disgusted by their approach to violence and sex, you can show all the violence in the world and still get the 'R' rating. However show a scene involving strong sex and nudity, and its the NC-17 rating. So in the US of A its fine to show scenes of bloody decapitation, and its not alright to show something that is a common occurence to people? God bless America!

 

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