2008: Oct-Dec

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31st December   

Updated: Die Hard Harder?...

Is there a new uncut release of Die Hard with a Vengeance?
Link Here

The old Quadrilogy boxset

While looking for bargains in the Zavvi clearout today, I noticed a newly re-packaged version of the Die Hard Quadrilogy 4-film boxset. Unlike the previous release, this one features the harder cut of Die Hard 4.0 (ie. not the PG-13 version as released in cinemas). And while there are no specific notes about Die Hard with a Vengeance being uncut, it did provoke me to have a quick look at the BBFC website where I found this .

The duration remains the same as the previously cut versions but this recent page (1st October) doesn't feature the phrase This is the UK cinema version as cut as well as This film was passed with no cuts made.

I was wondering if anyone has purchased this new boxset and knows if it cut with regards the lift/knifing/twitching bodies in the truck. Because then it might actually be worth buying...

Comment: Get the Australian DVD

31st December. From Andrew

I've also seen this boxset in Zavvi, and to be honest I'm not sure what to make of it either.

The back of the outer box does show the covers of each film next to the write up, and vengeance DOES have a significantly different cover (with a small "15" in the corner, so it is for the U.K. market) to any British release before (looks more like the original U.S one sheet).

To be honest, do yourself a favour and just get the R4 '07 release. I spent years being subjected to the U.K. version (both VHS and DVD) and I've never been happier. Sacrifice the special edition and just get the full film. Buena vista don't seem to have any major plans for this film, despite it being shown on several U.K. networks at varying times UNCUT. Their edits are awful, their dubbing is substandard and the whole film just makes you feel cheated by the end. Which is a shame, because its not a bad film. Quite the opposite.

Comment: Passed Without Cuts vs Passed Uncut

31st December. From David

I haven't got that set, but if the BBFC advice doesn't say Cut as cinema version but does say passed uncut it more likely means the distributor simply submitted the cut version. Whether this set is uncut or not, that phrase on a film that's previously been cut isn't a guarantee of a new uncut version

Comment: Picture Quality Concerns

2nd January. From Gav

Someone said to get the R4 version? I disagree, and say get the US R1 DVD. Not only does it have two discs, lots of extras and DTS sound, the picture quality on the R4 is sub-par, as reviewed on the Aussie DVD review site MichaelDVD.


9th December   

Update: Censorship Balls Up...

Monthly censorship stats: BBFC cut 20% of R18s
Link Here
Full story: BBFC R18 Censorship...BBFC cut a large proportion of R18s

BBFC cuts for November 2008

Number of R18s= 82
No. Cuts=17
Cuts ratio=20%

The R18 cuts stats 2008:

  • January: 23 R18s cut out of 71 (32%)
  • February: 28 R18s cut out of 90 (31%)
  • March: 29 R18s cut out of 97 (30%)
  • April: 30 R18s cut out of 98 (30%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 72 (30%)
  • June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)
  • July: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • August: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • Sep: 9 R18s cut out of 47 (19%)
  • Oct: 19 R18s cut out of 69 (28%)
  • Nov: 17 R18s cut out of 82 (20%)

Cuts of interest:


Cuts were required to scenes of potential harm (pool balls being inserted into and expelled from the anus) in accordance with BBFC guidelines and policy and the Video Recordings Act 1984


22nd November   

Update: PEGI Overrated...

ELSPA arrogance belittles their case against the BBFC
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

ELSPA has released details of their key findings submitted to the government following the Byron Review consultancy period.

It claims that ratings rival, the BBFC, downgraded 22 adult titles already given an 18 rating by PEGI.

The BBFCs downgrading of games opens up the potential of unnecessary risk for UK children and teenagers when playing games against other non-UK players online, said ELSPA.

Last year, of the 50 games that PEGI rated 18+ and passed to the BBFC for classification, the film rating board downgraded 22 of them – almost 50%.

However, the BBFC claims that it takes into account cultural factors when rating games, something that PEGI's Europe-wide system is incapable of doing.


21st November   

Update: Pegging On...

PEGI to roll out new rating symbols in Europe next spring
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

The new traffic light rating system from PEGI is to be introduced into mainland Europe this spring.

Age rating symbols are yet to be finalised, but the current imagery that includes a spider, fist and syringe, is to be expanded on to include descriptive text. This follows suggestions from the Byron report that the symbols were previously too confusing for consumers.

When settled upon, age ratings will be coloured red, orange and green, rather than the current black and white. However, they are currently being reworked from the first design to avoid copyright issues with the UK's BBFC colour-coded ratings.

PEGI has agreed those changes and they will be implemented as part of the PEGI system in the new year, probably in the spring by the time the information has been transmitted to all publishers and incorporated as part of the approvals process for the format holders, said Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA.

It's still unclear if the traffic light system will be used in the UK as the government is currently looking through information submitted following the Byron review before it decides on the way games should be rated.

The introduction of traffic light colours and changes to the descriptors have been approved, they are now being worked through with lawyers to ensure they do not infringe any existing trademarks and can be adopted smoothly.


17th November   


BBFC harangued for 'disability themes' label
Link Here

Disabled actors last night condemned a move by British film censors to label a new film featuring a disabled cast with a warning stating that the film contains disability themes.

Special People, a British, feature-length film with a cast of mainly disabled actors playing disabled characters, was given the label by the BBFC along with a 12A rating.

The director, Justin Edgar, is angry about the unnecessary labelling: I was really surprised to get this certificate. I couldn't understand why a film censor thought it was necessary to make people aware that the film had disabled people in it.

The movie – a comedy which follows a film-maker on the verge of a nervous breakdown who is enlisted to teach a class of wheelchair-users about film-making – has garnered awards and been selected for festivals around the world.

Sasha Hardway, one of the stars felt that the warning may have put people off watching it. The film is not based around disability. It's got disabled characters but the film is based around their characters not their disability. If you put 'contains disabled themes', people are going to think it's about illness and that it will be negative or depressing.

After pressure from the director and the film company, the label was removed, but not until after the company had paid for promotional material which still contains the label.

Sue Clark, a BBFC spokeswoman, said: These guidelines are there to give the public an idea of the issues we considered when classifying films. It's not designed to make any valued judgement.


17th November   

Update: Director's Commentary...

BBFC fees contribute to downturn in indy horror
Link Here
Full story: DVD Commentary at the BBFC...Charging to censor DVD commentary soundtracks

A quick look around the shelves of my local Blockbuster (which, as a chain, has its own problems), reveals that very nearly all the straight-to-DVD horror on their shelves is put out by Sony or Lionsgate (oh, those tiny independents). Two years ago, when TrashHouse hit those shelves, there were at least a dozen distribution companies regularly putting out indie horror and getting decent distribution for it. Nowadays, they all seem to have either gone out of business or, at very best, gone into a kind of suspended animation whilst hoping to weather the storm. Companies are folding left and right; some of them, like Tartan, make headlines. Countless others have just quietly stopped putting out product and expired.

So we're in a kind of limbo at the moment. The day a movie hits the shelves in a single territory it also hits the torrents worldwide, which can be fatal for an indie with no simultaneous worldwide release. There seems to be no way of making money on smaller movies. Obviously, the BBFC have done their very best to turn the knife by tightening their restrictions on things like commentaries, (which now have to be rated as a whole new work, thus adding vast amounts of money to the BBFC costs) and Behind The Scenes materials. Thus when an indie flick does manage to get out onto DVD in the current climate, it can't even afford to have the full extras on the UK disc which might actually persuade people to buy it. And without economies of scale working in it's favour, it's gonna end up costing the consumer twice as much as a 2-disc set of a blockbuster. For a vanilla disc. And the consumer, understandably, will vote with their wallet.

I've seen awesome movies that would have been snapped up two years ago fail to find even basic distribution. There are, of course, other options to be explored. There's a terrific blog over at Zen Films about their decision to self-distribute the movie Mindflesh which is a really interesting read.. Tragically, though, the BBFC requirements as they currently stand would make a UK version of the Amazon Unbox scheme mentioned in the article completely non-viable. Thus driving yet more of our independent film business out of the country.

The whole thing's a total bummer for those who make and those who enjoy watching independent cinema.


16th November   

Telegraph Bitches at the BBFC...

Newspaper defines 'bitch' as a swear word for the purposes of a bollox survey
Link Here

Films containing 'high levels of bad language' are being approved for children to see at the cinema, a bollox investigation by The Sunday Telegraph has found.

Ten films cleared for children's viewing were monitored for their use of expletives. In total, 'fuck' and its derivatives were used 17 times, 'bitch' 20 times, 'ass' 56 times and 'shit' 77 times.

All 10 films were passed recently by the BBFC with a rating of 12A, meaning that they can be watched in cinemas by over-12s alone, and by under-12s when accompanied by an adult.

The bollox findings come three weeks after this newspaper launched the 'Vulgar Britain' campaign, which has sparked a nationwide debate about standards on television, on radio and in films.

The investigation also found that films are being subjected to fewer cuts than ever by the BBFC. None of the 10 films studied was subjected to cuts before being awarded its 12A classification. So far this year, only five films, or 0.9% of the total released, have been required to make cuts by the BBFC to get their preferred classification - the lowest percentage since records began in 1914. Only one of the 159 films classified as 12A was subjected to cuts, even though many contain strong language, violence and scenes of a sexual nature. None of 45 films classified as 18 have had to cut any content.

Among the supposed offenders was Ghost Town , a comedy starring Ricky Gervais. It featured two uses of the 'fuck' and four 'shit'. Shotgun Stories , an American film about two sets of feuding half brothers, featured the  'fuck' three times and 'shit' 20 times. Another film monitored by this newspaper, Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? , a documentary about the war on terror directed by Morgan Spurlock, contained 'fuck' four times, 'shit' twice and the phrase ‘son of a bitch' eight times.

On its website, the BBFC, which is funded by the film industry, states that it allowed the film to be released with no cuts. It adds: The four uses of that particular term 'fuck' in this case were allowed at 12A because the work was considered to be of educational value to an adolescent audience.

Sue Palmer, the educational consultant and author of Toxic Childhood said: It is absolutely terrifying that the BBFC considers it appropriate to subject our children to this level of effing and blinding.

Nigel Algar, a senior curator of fiction at the British Film Institute, said: There is a definite drift downwards in terms of what children are considered able to view, and these decisions are sometimes surprising.

John Beyer, the director of Mediawatch-UK, said the level of swearing in 12A films was scandalous. We are spending millions of pounds on trying to improve education skills but by allowing these films through without cutting some of the swearing, the BBFC is undermining these efforts and normalising the use of obscene language by children.

A spokesman for the BBFC said: The role of the BBFC is not to see how many cuts we can make to films but to put them in the most appropriate age category. All our age category guidelines are based on extensive consultation with the public, so our classifications are a direct reflection of what the public think.

At present, the use of the f-word up to four times in a 12A film is considered acceptable. These guidelines are currently being looked at again, in a public consultation of more than 11,000 people, and if the public tell us that there is too much swearing at the 12A level, we will take this into account.


1st November   

Update: Here's Looking At You Kids...

Liverpool protestors call for 18 certificates for depictions of smoking
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

A 70-strong group of dancers and members of the SmokeFree youth group, D-MYST, marched through Liverpool in Halloween costumes to raise awareness of smoking in youth-orientated movies.

The event is part of the SmokeFree Movies Scary Movies campaign which is designed to turn the spotlight on the issue – the biggest single influence on young people to start smoking. SmokeFree Liverpool are asking UK film regulators BBFC to keep smoking out of all future films which can be seen by under-18s.

Gideon Ben-Tovim, chairman of Liverpool PCT said: This issue is a simple one, and simple action can be taken instantly by the BBFC, who already have the power to rate films which show smoking images as adult only.

The scientific fact is that more than half the young people who take up smoking say they did so because of seeing smoking in movies. That means thousands of under-18s are put at risk because of smoking images which simply don't need to be there.

The BBFC already know the facts, but have chosen to do nothing.


31st October   

Update: BBFC Red Lights Elspa...

BBFC unsurprisingly unimpressed by Elspa symbols
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

The BBFC has told Edge it is taking legal advice after observing that the newly-proposed 'traffic-light' PEGI symbols bear a striking resemblance to its own.

The BBFC believes such a system is around already. Our classification symbols have been colour-coded since 1982. They're very widely recognised, and in fact they are trademark and copyright protected, a company spokesperson told Edge.

We're happy for ELSPA to make sensible improvements, but not if they encroach on the protection of the BBFC's symbols. We have these symbols using colours, using circles and using numbers, so we are now taking legal advice.


29th October   

Update: My Traffic Lights are Better than Yours...

Elspa proposes its own age ratings in traffic light colours
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

The video games trade organisation, Elspa, has proposed a solution to the ongoing games ratings controversy.

Elspa supports a 'traffic-light'-type system as part of its voluntary ratings code that it says is more effective.

The BBFC dismissed the effort, saying their own colour-coded approach is well-established.

A government consultation on the matter due to finish in November aims to agree a legally enforceable ratings scheme.

Elspa's proposal would maintain the Pegi procedure and age limits, but says it has taken a lead from the food industry by adding 'traffic light' colours. Higher age limits would be red, with more general audience titles tagged green.

We're offering this idea as a direct consequence of the Byron review; the system needs to remove the potential for confusion and this is what we're doing, Elspa deputy director general Michael Rawlinson told the BBC: The system provided by Pegi is very robust, but we want to make it clearer that something that's for adults only should have that warning colour with it.

Sue Clark, a spokeswoman for the BBFC, dismissed the effort, saying that colour was not the prevalent issue in the debate: Changing the colours of the Pegi symbols is not copying the food industry. There is a system in place already which people know and understand and which in fact uses the traffic light colours, and it's called the BBFC system.

The government consultation will finish on 20 November, with a final decision expected in the new year.


26th October   

One of the Most Conservative Film Censors in the World...

David Cooke talks about the work of the BBFC
Link Here

David Cooke is the Director of the BBFC. He told the Guardian:

There are about 40 people who are examiners at the BBFC. They watch the films, play the games and watch the DVDs. All certification goes out with my name on it. That's about 17,000 titles a year, which is a little nerve-wracking. I see between one and three films a week.

We try and keep in line with public opinion and I think we're an accurate reflection. We're not trying to lead the public but sometimes we have to make a decision. They aren't Chris Tarrant issues; we can't phone a friend.

We get twitchy when sex and violence come together. It's a hugely contested area but we tend to err on the side of caution. It's an issue the public is also worried about.

We look at sexual violence in terms of how likely it is that the scene will encourage someone else to do it. Is the rape scene aversive? Is it off-putting? If it is saying that rape is OK, that's when it gets worrying and we will act.

Broadly speaking, at an adult level, people should be free to choose what they want to watch

Some sexual acts blur the lines. Urolagnia is a sexual fetish with a focus on urine and urination. Whether this is legal to show in a film is a case for the courts.

The Ketchup Effect is a Swedish film about a 13-year-old girl and her first sexual experiences. In it was a shot of an erect penis. Now we knew the penis wasn't real and that the subject was being treated sensitively but we had to give the film an 18 certificate. Was it the right decision? Was it educational?

I think there are regional differences in terms of what is and what isn't acceptable, but mainly in terms of bad language. The public don't like bad language.

We are still one of the more conservative film regulators in the world. French regulators come out with completely different conclusions to us. Whereas we will put an 18 certificate on a Tarantino film, they give his films a 12 certificate and call it art.


10th October   

Update: BBFC Bouncing Mad...

Monthly censorship stats: BBFC cut 19% of R18s
Link Here
Full story: BBFC R18 Censorship...BBFC cut a large proportion of R18s

BBFC cuts for Sept 2008

Number of R18s= 47
No. Cuts=9
Cuts ratio=19%

The R18 cuts stats 2008:

  • January: 23 R18s cut out of 71 (32%)
  • February: 28 R18s cut out of 90 (31%)
  • March: 29 R18s cut out of 97 (30%)
  • April: 30 R18s cut out of 98 (30%)
  • May: 22 R18s cut out of 72 (30%)
  • June: 17 R18s cut out of 92 (18%)
  • July: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • August: 20 R18s cut out of 72 (28%)
  • Sep: 9 R18s cut out of 47 (19%)

cuts of interest


A cut was also required to remove the sight of a woman bouncing on urine wet patch on a trampoline in accordance with BBFC Policy , Guidelines and current interpretation of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 on urolagnia.


9th October   

Offsite: On the Edge of a Spat...

BBFC Director David Cooke writes about spat with ESLPA and PEGI
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

I have been reading recently that there's a spat between the BBFC and ESLPA or the BBFC and PEGI. I don't recognize this so-called spat. I have great respect for ELSPA and for PEGI and for the games industry.

Something else that doesn't get said often enough is that I have a great respect for gamers. The people at the BBFC who actually do the games examination are gamers themselves.

We're enthusiasts for games. We're not in any sense hostile to the gaming world and I don't recognize the sort of coverage that suggests otherwise.

...Read full article


4th October   

Update: Manhunt Begins...

Manhunt 2 finally set for release on 31st October
Link Here
Full story: Manhunt 2...Computer game proves controversial

Rockstar finally gets to release Manhunt 2 (Wii, PSP) in the UK. UK gamers can expect the game to hit shelves on October 31.

This is the cut version of the game that was released in North America exactly a year ago.

The “original” version of Manhunt 2 first submitted to the BBFC is still banned.

Hackers later managed to find a code that will partially lift the game's censorship. Wonder if Rockstar was able to close that 'loophole' for the UK release.


2nd October   

Update: The 12 Years Old War...

ELSPA will continue to fight ratings battle
Link Here
Full story: The Byron Report...Tanya Byron reports on media child protection

ELSPA's Paul Jackson has told that the trade body will continue to fight the ratings battle in the UK, even if the government brings in a new act of Parliament to enforce videogame ratings.

The government is currently in a consultation period, gathering evidence from ELSPA, European board PEGI and movie classification experts the BBFC, on how best to protect children from adult videogame content.

So far, UK MPs back Dr Tanya Byron's report that the BBFC should rate videogames aimed at adults in the UK, while ELSPA has put all its weight behind PEGI.

Let me be clear - we will argue coherently our case, stated Jackson. Nobody is saying for a second that if government brings in a regulation for a videogames act of parliament that our members won't fight it. Of course they will.

At the end of the day we're a very law-abiding industry and we'll fight our corner right the way through. If there's a legislative process we'll fight that as well.

Jackson believes he's helping to turn government on to the idea of PEGI taking control of game ratings, after meeting with MPs at the Labour Party Conference, including Shaun Woodward, Anne Keen and Michael Cashman.

I think they're listening now. I have a real sense that the arguments we're making are so well-founded in fact that they're impossible to not listen to, said Jackson.


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