Should a film that depicts scenes of explicit sex, torture and genital mutilation be shown in British cinemas? The film Antichrist was said to have caused some of the audience to faint when it was shown at Cannes. But it seems the British Board of Film Censors believes audiences here have stronger constitutions, and that Antichrist should be shown in all its uncut glory, albeit with an 18 certificate. But in an age when we can choose to view such material very easily on the internet, does censorship still have a place in our society? And, if so, how do we make judgments on what people should and should not see?
The distributors of Antichrist say it is a work of art by a talented director, and why should the fact that a few strange individuals may get a sexual thrill out of this film deny the majority the chance to see a work of art? Would the liberal critics still be as keen to argue against censorship if these scenes had been in a film made by a talented director of pornography?
The issue of content versus intent becomes even more complicated when images of children are involved. A number of art galleries in Britain have been raided by police after complaints about photographs featuring naked children which had been taken by recognised artists. The images themselves were nothing more than polished versions of photos that any parent might have. But what if the intent of the photographer had been to titillate, even if the images themselves were seemingly innocuous? And where does all this leave paintings, cartoons or animation?
Dr Edward Skidelsky, lecturer in Philosophy at Exeter University
Miranda Suit, co-founder of Media March
Fred Man, gallery director
Nigel Floyd, film critic.