ASA tackle the issue of a DVD being inaccurately described as uncut
19th September 2012
Blood of the Vampire is a 1958 UK horror sci-fi by Henry Cass.
With Donald Wolfit, Vincent Ball and Barbara Shelley. See
DVD Compare seem to have pieced the facts together. The BBFC substantially cut the 1958 cinema release and this cut version went on to become the basis (with slight variations) for later US and UK releases. However the uncut version was
released on the continent and was last seen on French VHS. This continental version is a bit obscure though and the website could easily just have been simply unaware of its existence.
Claims on www.uncut-dvds.co.uk, for a DVD of a horror film, stated Blood of the Vampire (uncut) .
The complainant, who had purchased the DVD and found that certain scenes were missing, challenged whether the claim that the advertised product was the uncut version was misleading and could be substantiated.
Uncut-DVDs.co.uk (Uncut) said the DVD offered was exactly as described and shown and was verifiably the uncut version of the film. They said they were already aware of the complainant who would have been aware of the running time when they
purchased the film from Uncut. They provided links to other websites selling the same film.
Assessment: Complaint Upheld
The ASA understood that the advertised film had been released in 1958 and had, at that time, been submitted to the BBFC who had made cuts to nine scenes for cinema release. We also understood that the film had been resubmitted to the BBFC in 2005
for DVD release and no cuts had been made. However, we understood that the BBFC's records did not allow them to tell whether the film submitted in 2005 was the full length theatrical version or the BBFC cut version.
We considered that to substantiate the claim that the advertised version was uncut, the advertiser needed to demonstrate that it was the full length theatrical version, i.e. the same as that which was originally submitted to the BBFC. We
considered that they might demonstrate that by, for example, showing that their DVD version had been transferred from the original uncut print of the film, or by showing that it contained shots and scenes that had been cut by the BBFC.
However, because they had not done so, we concluded that the claim was unsubstantiated and therefore misleading.
The claim breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
The claim must not appear again in its current form. We told Uncut-DVDs to ensure they held evidence to show that their DVDs were uncut versions.
This episode of the BBFC podcast discusses the 15 age rating and how content awarded a 15 differs from that at 12A and 18.
We also speak to the Industry Trust for IP Awareness, the UK film, TV and video industry?s pro-copyright consumer education body, established to tackle the growing issue of copyright infringement in the UK. Their website FindAnyFilm.com is one of
the UK's leading websites for film fans looking to watch, buy, download, stream or rent legitimate film, TV and video.
Strangely no comment of the expensive fees involved and the impact it will have on many small market videos. Perhaps the government should pick up the tab so that they can be better places to make a judgement about the benefits of imposing yet
more expense on British industry that's already heading towards bankruptcy.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will this week close a three-month consultation that most observers believe will end a loophole which means DVDs with titles like The Bitch of Buchenwald and Britain's Bloodiest
Serial Killers can claim exemption from BBFC censorship.
As things stand, most sport, documentary and music videos can claim an exemption from classification. The BBFC's head of policy, David Austin said:
The great majority of exempt video works are fine. They are not going to harm anyone, but there are a significant number of titles that are potentially harmful to children.
We know from our postbag that parents are concerned about exempt videos. Usually they write and say, 'Why did you give this video an E classification?' The answer is we didn't as it never came to us -- it would not have gone to anyone.
The BBFC estimates that around 200 videos might be caught by a change in the law.
Austin showed the Guardian examples of videos that have claimed exemption but would have been classified. One of the more shocking is a documentary about the American heavy metal band Slipknot . It shows one fan who has carved the word
Slipknot in to her forearm and another who has done the same in her belly, to which someone is seen pointing in admiration.
A music video by the Norwegian black metal band Gorgoroth, which was rated X in Germany but is unrated in the UK, shows topless women being crucified with blood running down their breasts. A Robbie Williams video for the song Come Undone,
contained on an exempt compilation, In and Out of Consciousness, shows drug taking and Williams cavorting in bed with two naked women.
Other potentially problematic DVDs include wildly violent cage fighting DVDs and ones that instruct in krav maga, the combat techniques developed by the Israeli army.
All the signs are that the government will change a law that was made in 1984, when no one could have foreseen a problem with music or instructional videos. The BBFC, together with other regulatory bodies, is calling for exceptions to the
exemptions that would cover material that is violent, sexual, discriminatory, has repeated strong language or contains imitable behaviour such as drug use.
A DCMS spokesperson said: DCMS launched a consultation in May on the exemptions from age rating that currently apply to music, sports, religious and educational videos. The government will publish its response in the autumn.
Happy birthday James Cameron! One of the most blockbusting directors in Hollywood celebrates his special day this week and so do we by looking at the file for Terminator 2 Judgment Day.
The film was seen by the BBFC in a rough cut version in June 1991 and, as one of the Examiner reports shows, the film sat on the 15/18 borderline. Guild Film Distributors were advised that scenes in the psychiatric hospital (detailed in the
accompanying cuts) would need to be reduced to achieve a 15 certificate. The amendments were made and the film passed at 15.
Comment: Whatever happened to the kneecapped guard?
24th August 2012. From Pete
I just read the article about the BBFC cuts to Terminator 2, and noticed something interesting. In the report it states that in mid June when the film version was reviewed cuts were requested by the board, although the statement was a bit
ambiguous for reduction to violence in the hospital escape of Sarah, there was a specific mention to remove the close-up shot of security guard getting shot in the knees by Arnie at the gate entrance. Well, I have seen this
film numerous times and even have the latest Blu-ray version (Skynet edition) and have not seen any close up shot of the guard's knees shot at the gate, just the regular 2 gunshots in a medium-long shot.
Could it be as the USA release was not until 3rd July, that the BBFC recommended cuts were used for the USA release as well to avoid to separate prints with little difference?
Comment: Perhaps the 'closeness' of the kneecapping was simply overstated or was backed off before the final version
25th August 2012. From Gavin Salkeld
I noticed this too. However, the initial observations by the BBFC were done against a rough cut, so the film wasn't yet finished. My guess is the kneecapping by Arnie wasn't an issue when the final cut was shown to them, as the only BBFC cuts
(made to the final cut, and not a rough cut) I got sent some years ago were:
When Sarah escapes from hospital, process and intensity of her violence towards male nurse in corridor (4 bashes on head with heavy sound of impacts and much blood) and to doctor as she backs him into office (repeated blows with heavy impact
sound) were reduced.
I doubt Cameron would have made BBFC cuts to the US version, so if the kneecapping didn't bother the BBFC on formal submission of a final cut, that maybe he just decided to change the footage simply because he wasn't happy with it? I doubt this,
however, as having a close-up amongst that footage would seem rather lingering and unlike Cameron. Seems more like the BBFC didn't think it was an issue upon formal submission of the finished film.
[Re] Simon Walsh's acquittal at the Kingston Crown Court for allegedly being in possession of extreme pornography under section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act.
The five images in question depicted anal fisting and urethral sounding, both activities featured in the Peacock Trial. At the time I expressed the view that the CPS, along with the Metropolitan Police and the BBFC needed to review the
I can report that, post Michael Peacock's #ObscenityTrial and pre Simon Walsh's #PornTrial the CPS did indeed meet with representatives from the Met and BBFC. However, I am told that the Peacock Trial was considered to be a singular prosecution
and therefore the result of the review process was not to amend the guidelines in any way, shape or form. Therefore more defendants may have to put their lives on hold like Michael and Simon did whilst challenging such intrusive prosecutions.
It is my contention that the matter is now beyond the remit of the CPS, Met and BBFC and that the subject requires the scrutiny of the Home Secretary, Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission and that questions should be asked in the House.
I guess the BBFC were just told to continue to cut material considered extreme or obscene by the CPS and police. Hopefully they had no part in the decision to continue to persecute people for images or legal and consensual sex.
From 30 July and with a few limited exceptions, the responsibility for classifying video games falls to the Video Standards Council, applying the PEGI system.
The BBFC will continue to classify all games featuring strong pornographic (R18 level) content and ancillary games attached to a wider, primarily linear submission.
The BBFC will also examine and offer a determination on certain linear content in video games. This determination will help the Video Standards Council in reaching an overall classification for the video game. The BBFC will offer a determination
for linear content which does not contribute to the narrative drive of the game, whether this footage is live action or computer generated; embedded in the game or simply contained on the game disc. Examples of such linear content include the TV
material created for the GTA series; video rewards for completing certain tasks or levels within the game; or other video content which does not contribute to the narrative drive of the video game.
The BBFC will continue to classify all non-game linear content on a game disc, such as trailers and featurettes.
Kira Cochrane of the Guardian has a worthwhile luncheon interview with the BBFC.
It was interesting to hear of an examiners training video that maybe prepares new employees for the worst:
David Austin, head of policy, says an image from some Thai boxing footage the board uses in training has stayed with him. The bone in this man's leg completely shatters into hundreds of pieces, he says, and you see him try to walk, and
his leg just completely collapses.
Another example that upset examiners was documentary footage of a man facing a firing squad. Half his face was blown away, but he remained alive, gasping for air. This scene was included in Terrorists, Killers & Other Wackos, a compilation
of material too strong for news programmes, set to a hard rock soundtrack. It was probably calculated to be viewed by young blokes when they were just about to go to the pub, says Cooke, and the board refused to classify it, making it
illegal to supply the film.
The extensive explanation of the board's ruling includes the comment that the footage has the potential to desensitise viewers, and perhaps even to incite some to harm others . But that same scene was allowed on another video -- a serious
documentary about capital punishment, which the board passed at 18, uncut. That just shows how the same image can be legitimate or not, depending on the context, says Austin.
The 15-rated Black Swan received the most complaints from audiences in 2011. The film generated forty complaints and although this is a high number for the BBFC, compared to the 2.7 million people who saw the film in cinemas it is a
proportionately very small indeed.
The standout issue for most was a sex scene in which one female character performs cunnilingus on another. While the scene is visually discreet, narratively justified and within the 15 Guidelines criteria, some correspondents felt it was
pornographic in nature. That it was a sex scene between two women was an aggravating factor for some who argued that portrayals of homosexual activity should either be restricted to the 18 category , or not shown at all.
However, the BBFC in line with broad public opinion, applies the same standards to portrayals of sexual activity , regardless of sexual orientation.
The high number of complaints for Black Swan demonstrates the disconnect that sometimes occurs between a viewer's expectations of a film and its actual content. Some complainants had expected to see a film about ballet rather than the story of a
young woman's mental disintegration.
The BBFC suggested that perhaps such whingers should read the label before deciding to view. The BBFC Consumer Advice clearly warned that Black Swan contains strong sex, strong language and bloody images.
BBFC examiners found that Tim Burton's 1989 film had a much darker tone than previous incarnations of the character and considered the Joker as being potentially scary for young children.
The film's tonal qualities with overtones of horror precluded a PG. But examiners made the case that a 15 classification would be too high and would prevent younger teenagers, who would be a natural audience for the film, from seeing it.
The BBFC has announced the winner of their centenary competition for kids. 10 year old Jason Bangar from Birmingham will have his BBFC Black Card design shown ahead of every cinema screening of summer blockbuster Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog
Days (U), which opens on 3 August.
The competition is part of the BBFC's centenary celebrations, with all entries judged by BBFC Education Officer Lucy Brett and Demir Yavuz, Technical Manager at 20th Century Fox.
Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, President of Film Distributors' Association, said: I offer my warmest congratulations to Jason, whose design brilliantly captures the uniquely special excitement of the cinema experience, and to everyone at the
BBFC as it celebrates its centenary year in fine style.
Jason and his family are invited by 20th Century Fox to a special screening of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (U) at their local cinema in Birmingham next month. The competition, which launched in January this year, asked children under 18 to use
their own cinema-going experiences as inspiration for a new BBFC Black Card design. Jason's design incorporates a traditional 35mm projector, popcorn and theatrical curtains. The design will be replicated by a professional designer and shown for
the entire UK cinema release of the film Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (U).
BBFC Annual Report 2011: BBFC find out their value in the internet age, announce plans for new research into sexual violence & adopt a tougher line on exempt video content
Sexual violence in films and the availability of content potentially harmful to children in exempt videos were two key issues for the BBFC in 2011 and are carrying through into work undertaken by the BBFC in 2012.
In 2011 the BBFC considered The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (in which a man achieves sexual gratification from the stapling together of victims to form a human centipede and which culminates in him raping a woman with barbed wire) and The
Bunny Game (in which a truck driver abducts, strips and sexually abuses and tortures a prostitute).
The BBFC intervened with both of these works on account of their depictions of extreme violence against women. It made significant cuts to The Human Centipede 2 and refused to certify The Bunny Game because of the harm risk both works posed.
Partly as a result of these and other films, the BBFC is commissioning a major new piece of original research into depictions of sadistic, sexual and sexualised violence, mainly against women, to determine what the British public today believes
is potentially harmful and therefore unacceptable for classification. The research will be completed in 2012 and the BBFC will publish it in the usual way, not least because it might be helpful to other regulators.
At the same time the BBFC responded to the promise of a DCMS consultation on exempt video works in 2012. The BBFC, British Video Association, British Phonographic Industry, the Video Standards Council and the Entertainment Retailers Association
all support a technical adjustment to the Video Recordings Act whereby content in exempt videos which is potentially harmful to children should lose the video its exemption.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: In 2011 Reg Bailey highlighted concerns about the sexualisation of children through readily available audio-visual material that is exempt from classification. The BBFC hope that an adjustment to the
Video Recordings Act will help prevent children from being exposed to strongly violent or sexual content, whether in music videos, instructional DVDs or documentaries.
The issue of sexual violence in films in 2011 will also be considered in more depth in 2012, with new research into the public's opinion around portrayals of sexual violence due to be published in the autumn.'
The 2011 annual report also reports findings of research into what value the British public place on the BBFC in the internet age. Independent research carried out in June 2011 demonstrated conclusively that the public values the BBFC's work to
bring content advice online. That research showed that while the public considers the internet to bring greater choice, freedom and flexibility, the majority of viewers still consider it important to be able to check the suitability of
audio-visual content they download. As more viewing takes place online, consumers expect that the same level of BBFC support will apply online as currently applies offline: 85% consider it important to have consistent BBFC classifications
available for VOD content, rising to 90% of parents of children under 16.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said: The BBFC has worked with the home entertainment industry since 2008 to develop voluntary content labelling strategies for online and Video On Demand (VOD) content and it's encouraging to know the public
still want a trusted guide to online content. This is also recognised by on-demand content providers and in 2011 we welcomed several new subscribers to our online service, including BT Vision, Talk Talk, Netflix and British Airways.
The availability of BBFC film content advice was also expanded in 2011: Consumer Advice and Extended Classification Information (ECI) were made available to even more smartphone users with the introduction of an Android version of the free BBFC
App, previously only available for iPhone. A podcast about film classification was also launched to further engage the public with the BBFC Guidelines and key classification themes, as well as high-profile classification decisions.
The much-delayed implementation of PEGI as the sole UK video game rating system is now expected to come into force on July 30.
Games will be more or less self rated using PEGI age classifications of 7,12,16 and 18, along with comments about the type of content. The Games Rating Authority (GRA), a division of the Video Standards Council (VSC), will oversee the ratings
process, with powers to ban and censor where necessary.
Meanwhile Resident Evil 6 may be one of the last major games to obtain a BBFC certificate. (The cover is already sporting a PEGI rating on advance publicity pictures).
After 10 years as President of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), Sir Quentin Thomas has decided to retire from the post. An advertisement for an open competition to choose his successor has been placed today and Sir Quentin Thomas
will remain in post until a successor is selected.
Sir Quentin Thomas said:
It has been a great privilege and pleasure to serve as President. The Board has a great team under the effective leadership of its Director David Cooke. There is an enthusiastic staff with an unrivalled knowledge of film and of the regulatory
issues; and I have been fortunate in my colleagues in the Presidential team and in the support of the Council of Management under Graham Lee and his predecessor Ewart Needham.
I hope and believe the public and the industry appreciate the work the Board has done, now for some 100 years. It is important we retain their confidence as film continues to explore the full range of human experience, inevitably pushing at the
boundaries as it does so.
David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said:
I am very sorry that we have been unable to persuade Sir Quentin to stay on. His ten years as President have seen the BBFC's Classification Guidelines, based on wide public consultation, achieve high levels of public and industry trust. He has
also overseen improved efficiency and speed of decisions, innovative new services for video-on-demand, and the provision of rich and helpful content information to the public. On behalf of all the staff at the BBFC I want to thank him and wish
him well for the future.