BBFC advised category cuts were made for UK cinema and home video releases of Paul WS Anderson's Pompeii .
The BBFC commented at the time of the cinema release:
This work was originally seen for advice. The company was advised that the film was likely to receive a 15 certificate but that their preferred 12A classification could be achieved by making some changes.
The company was advised:
to reduce stronger moments of violence where there was a dwelling on particular acts and
to reduce the emphasis on blood on bladed weapons.
When the film was formally submitted, changes had been made which addressed these concerns. Consequently, the film was passed 12A.
Now Movie-Censorship.com reveals that the BBFC advised category cuts were adopted for US PG-13 rated release and also for FSK 12 rated release in Germany. Presumably the BBFC cuts therefore apply worldwide.
BBFC advised category cuts similarly found there way into the worldwide Theatrical Version of Brett Ratner's Hercules . But at least in this case there was an Extended Version released on US Blu-ray which restored the cuts. The Extended Version is
MPAA Unrated in the US but has not been released in the UK.
ATVOD recently published minutes from the September board meeting which predated the recent government censorship decree for internet porn.
The law was discussed at the meeting but this seems a little irrelevant after the law was published. Other related issues that cropped up were:
Secret Censors Pact
The Board NOTED the progress being made with development of a MoU with Ofcom and BBFC. Once finalised the MoU would be published and made available to Industry Forum members.
Move to censor the internet to the same level as TV
The Board AGREED that ATVOD should offer to provide Ofcom with the benefit of its expertise with regard to the work Ofcom is undertaking on a common framework for media standards.
You can run but you cannot hide
The Industry Forum meeting had supported working party proposals for a process designed to confirm whether an on demand service fell under UK jurisdiction. The Board DISCUSSED the details of the scheme. It was expected that the final scheme would be
brought to the November Board meeting for approval.
Licence to kill the adult trade
The Board NOTED that there had been no recent communication from DCMS on proposals to consider the feasibility of a licensing scheme for foreign pornographic websites.
More censorship rules to follow
The Board AGREED that finalisation of ATVOD's additional guidance for adult providers should be put on hold until the new AVMS Regulations was introduced.
In league with the devil
BBFC presentation on 18, R18 and unclassifiable material 8.1
Murray Perkins, BBFC, attended the meeting and gave a presentation which included examples of material classified at 18, material classified at R18 and material which had been refused a classification.
On 1 December, the Communications Act 2003 was amended. The regulation of R18 pornographic content available on-demand in the UK will henceforth be subject to the same standards as those applied to pornography on DVD by the British Board of Film
Classification, where I am a senior examiner. The amendment applies to those works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation, with the R18 category being a special and legally restricted classification primarily for explicit works of
consenting sex, or strong fetish material involving adults.
While some non-pornographic films may contain material which raises issues comparable with those which might be found in sex works, and which may also be subject to cuts -- such as scenes of sexual violence -- there is no direct crossover between the
standards for sex works and those applied to non-pornographic films.
Underpinning the BBFC guidelines is a specific requirement for the Video Recordings Act to have special regard to any harm that may be caused to potential viewers, or, through their behaviour, to society. This means that, before classifying a work, the
BBFC may cut certain acts in pornographic works where imitation or the influencing of attitudes is a particular concern. Breath restriction is one such example. It would be wrong to assume that the BBFC consequently cuts all sight of people sitting
across other people's faces. But the BBFC will cut sight of clear and deliberate restriction of a person's ability to breathe during sexual play. Breath restriction for the purposes of sexual enjoyment can result in death. Given such a clear and
well-documented risk of harm, passing such breath play in a sex work would be contrary to the BBFC's designated responsibility.
The BBFC also intervenes where material risks prosecution under UK law. This includes prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. Indeed, the BBFC's designation under the Video Recordings Act requires that it does not pass any content in breach
of UK law. We regularly consult both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan police to understand and keep up to date with the types of content which are subject to prosecution and conviction. Consequently, we may not classify any material
which may be subject to prosecution. Among other activities, this includes any repeated focus on urination during sex and urination over any other person, including any act which cannot be distinguished from urination on the basis of the onscreen
It has recently been suggested that the introduction of the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations will lead to several acts now being banned from UK on-demand services, including spanking and verbal abuse. Much of this information is inaccurate, some of
it is wrong. In judging material which may or may not be allowed under BBFC Guidelines, it is often unhelpful to speak hypothetically and in generalisations when specifics of context and potential harm in a given situation are among the considerations
which really matter. The Audiovisual Media Services Regulations will ensure that UK on-demand content is consistent with legally available pornography off-line, benefiting from the application of UK law and the expert legal and medical advice which
informs BBFC decisions.
Comment: 10 questions for the BBFC about R18 porn rules
That so many people are appalled by these rules seems to have rather shaken the BBFC. After all, they pride themselves on their feminist credentials, and consider many of the acts and images they forbid as acts of sexual violence, mostly against women.
To be told that they are being sexist and patriarchal by banning spanking movies must genuinely baffle them.
It has been suggested in the past that the BBFC simply ask the public on these topics [obscenity rules]. After all, if the test of obscenity is what a majority of people consider to be obscene, then this is one area where opinion polling could be
helpful. What is interesting about the culture at the BBFC is that when such suggestions have been made, the BBFC has reacted with superior amusement -- incredulity even.
What do you mean? Actually ask the public what they think on a matter where the public are the final arbiter.? What an extraordinary idea!
The BBFC explains a small increase in classification fees for 2015:
Having consulted the DCMS, we will be raising our fees for the first time in seven years on 1 January 2015. We have not increased our fees since 2007. This is equivalent to a 19% reduction in real terms in the cost of BBFC services over that period. We
sustained these savings by improving the efficiency of our systems and reducing our operating costs, and at the same time we have vastly improved our turnaround times.
To maintain and improve these levels of service, we will make small, sub-inflation annual increases starting in 2015, with the aim of minimising the impact on film and video industries. The model we will use for our statutory work is RPI minus 1%. Using
the September 2014 RPI figure of 2.3%, as published by the Office for National Statistics, the fees will therefore rise by 1.3% on 1 January 2015.
Perhaps not of prime interest to film viewers but the cost of classification makes a big difference to the availability of films. Given that professional people have to spend a few hours on a typical film then it is never going to be cheap. And for a
small market film, the price of the censorship may make the difference between a film getting a release or not. Such economic censorship is equally effective in preventing films being seen, as for BBFC censorial concerns about the content.
Paddington is a 2014 UK / France family comedy by Paul King.
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins and Julie Walters.
A young Peruvian bear with a passion for all things British travels to London in search of a home. Finding himself lost and alone at Paddington Station, he begins to realize that city life is not all he had imagined - until he meets the kindly Brown
family, who read the label around his neck ('Please look after this bear. Thank you.') and offer him a temporary haven. It looks as though his luck has changed until this rarest of bears catches the eye of a museum taxidermist.
The BBFC Just passed the film PG uncut for cinema release with the consumer advice:
dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language.
But a little earlier, the consumer advice had read
dangerous behaviour, mild threat, mild sex references, mild bad language.
The BBFC changed the wording of its guidance after the Daily Mail ran a story about the PG rating for the film. It seems that the Paddington author Michael Bond was totally amazed at the term mild sex references used by the BBFC. Bond told
the Daily Mail:
I'd be very upset. I might not sleep well tonight. I can't imagine what the sex references are. It doesn't enter into it with the books, certainly.'
After an approach from the film's distributor the BBFC altered the term mild sex references to innuendo . The distributor also asked for clarity to the frequency of mild bad language, and the BBFC duly obliged by adding the descriptor, infrequent.
The film's director Paul King said he had expected the BBFC to issue a PG rating:
I'm not surprised about that but I don't think it's a PG for sexiness. That I would find very odd, he said.
The Daily Mail also a dragged up a trivial sound bite from Pippa Smith, of the SaferMedia campaign. She said:
There should be absolutely nothing threatening, sexual or dangerous about Paddington. If there is, it should be cut.
For a full description of what the BBFC are alluding to here is the BBFC Insight. (which still uses the heading 'sex')
There are infrequent scenes of dangerous behaviour, including Paddington hiding from a villain inside a refrigerator and riding on a skateboard while holding on to a bus, as well as a brief scene of a boy strapping fireworks to his shoes.
There are occasional sequences of mild threat when Paddington is chased by the villain who threatens to kill and stuff him, as well as a brief sequence in which Paddington lies unconscious on a table while a taxidermist prepares their tools nearby. There
is also a short scene in a jungle when Paddington and his family run for shelter during an earthquake with trees falling around them.
There is some mild innuendo, including a comic sequence in which a man disguised as a woman is flirted with by another man.
The Daily Mail as been heaping praise on Hunger Games: Mockingjay . The paper gushes:
Showing public executions, corpses being devoured by wild animals and the bombing of a hospital, it's not exactly your typical children's film. But the latest instalment of The Hunger Games phenomenon has been handed a 12A classification -- meaning it
can be watched by under-12s as long as they are accompanied by an adult.
As a glamorous Jennifer Lawrence took to the red carpet for the film's London premiere last night, critics (Well just Medaiwatch-UK and SaferMedia actually) questioned whether the BBFC's decision was appropriate, warning that the graphic scenes in The
Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 could normalise violence and traumatise children.
While this instalment contains fewer acts of violence than the first two films, the scenes of death and destruction that it does have are some of the most disturbing in the franchise -- including the aftermath of a firebomb with heaps of corpses twisted
among each other. Protesters are also shown being hooded, forced to their knees and shot in the head.
Pippa Smith of the Safer Media campaign said:
These are not things you would want children to see. It normalises violence.
Vivienne Pattison of Mediawatch UK added:
There's nothing to stop you taking a four-year-old to see it. I think it's really worrying that films which, several years ago, would have been a 15 are now being given lower ratings.
Whilst the Daily Mail is conjuring up a bit of commercially advantageous 'outrage' about the leniency of the BBFC, others are questioning whether the BBFC isn't perhaps a little overly cautious about an 18 certificate for the gay film Gerontophilia
Gerontophilia has been described by some as the most controversial film ever made by director Bruce La Bruce. That's quite impressive for a filmmaker whose previous films have mixed Neo Nazis and gay porn, and zombies and gay porn. There's not any gay
porn at all in this one, so why has it courted controversy? Well it's purely because it's about one of the last taboos -- relationships with a massive age difference.
To be honest I was surprised that in the UK the BBFC gave it an 18 certificate along with the advisory that it contains strong sex (which was also put on the DVD cover). It doesn't contain strong sex at all -- which for a Bruce La Bruce movie is
the perhaps most shocking thing about the film -- it just has a guy briefly masturbating under his clothes and the sight of a naked 80-year-old. However because the guy is touching himself because there's a naked 80-year-old, that apparently equates to
strong sex. Normally the BBFC isn't as prudish about these things as its US counterpart is, but I can't help but feel that a bit of disgust crept in here that didn't look at the actual content.
We received complaints from some viewers who were unhappy with a storyline about death and cremation.
Doctor Who is a family drama with a long tradition of tackling some of the more fundamental questions about life and death. We were mindful of the themes explored in Dark Water and are confident that they are appropriate in the context of the
heightened sci-fi world of the show.
The scene in which a character reveals 3W's unconventional theory about the afterlife was preceded by the same character warning the Doctor and Clara several times that what they were about to hear could be distressing. When the Doctor does hear these
claims, he immediately pours scorn on them, dismissing them out of hand as a con and a racket . It transpires that he is correct, and the entire concept is revealed to be a scam perpetrated by Missy.
As a foreign language arthouse film, Two Days, One Night arguably attracts a certain type of audience: one who, at the very least, has gone to the trouble of finding out the thrust of the story in order to decide whether or not to see it. So it's
fair to suggest that most people watching the film in a cinema know that it concerns Cotillard's character, Sandra, struggling to get her job back by pleading with her workmates to convince them to forego their bonus.
What, then, does that audience think when the words suicide attempt appear on screen as a warning about the film's content, alongside the BBFC's 15 certificate, mere seconds before it starts? I can't speak for everyone, but my own thoughts
went something along the lines of: Oh right, so at some point things will get so bad that Sandra will try to kill herself. I'll just sit here with that information stored away, waiting for it to happen, shall I? THANKS A RUDDY BUNCH, THE BBFC.
It's surely a bit tough on the BBFC. In the world of political correctness, suicide is one of the highest priorities for so called 'trigger warnings'. Surely you can't let people sensitive to suicide watch films like this without being warned.
The Guardian reports that the BBFC have seen the error in its ways:
Now the BBFC has said it will aim to stop giving too much away. The body began publishing the information on the card last year, and has tried to balance helping people make informed choices with not spoiling the storyline.
It said the problem rarely arose but it had sympathy with those who felt their enjoyment had been affected.
It believes it can tackle the issue in a pragmatic way without compromising the need to inform the public about a film's content .
The BBFC will trial a new policy examining whether a potential spoiler can be withheld from the information prior to the film, although it would still be available online. The policy will be reviewed after six months.
Update: MPAA trigger warnings for something unmentionable
14th October 2014.
The BBFC got in a little bother for spoilers in its onscreen consumer advice for the cinema film Two Days, One Night. The BBFC advice read:
Passed 15 for suicide attempt
Perhaps forewarned by the BBFC controversy, the MPAA ratings just released today seemingly avoided the spoiler with the consumer advice:
Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic elements
Of course the phrase is now so vague that it is totally useless. What is the point of telling parents that there is something mature in a film supposedly suitable for children without giving a hint about what the mature theme is?
Are the MPAA so politically correct that they have trigger warnings that can't mention the reason for the warning?
Video Recordings Act extended to previously exempt works
The BBFC announced:
On 4 August 2014, the Video Recordings Act was amended to lower the threshold at which certain video content loses its exemption from classification. This amendment comes into effect on 1 October 2014.
From 1 October, documentaries, sports and music video works that can currently claim exemption will be required to seek a BBFC classification if they contain material which could be potentially harmful or otherwise unsuitable for children and, as with
video games, works will have to be classified if they contain material which would be rated 12 and above.
This Friday a pilot scheme to add age ratings to online music videos starts but don't expect to see any huge 12s, 15s or 18s on videos just yet. All parties involved say people watching the videos won't see any changes until the end of the year.
YouTube says it is committed but technical change may take time and Vevo has agreed to trial the scheme.
Three of the biggest labels in the UK - Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers - have all also agreed to take part. But it will only apply to artists signed to UK labels.
The BBFC will be awarding the age ratings.
Mercury-nominated singer FKA Twigs commented:
I think that the answer to protecting younger viewers is not to ban things, it's to show an alternative.
I guess with my videos we're talking directly about sexuality and there's nothing wrong with that.
Why shouldn't younger people learn and explore about what sexuality is as an adult? Why shouldn't they do that?
We're not living in Victorian Britain, do we want to be repressed? Do we want to have these kids doing weird things behind closed doors or should this be a country that is leading by example in explaining to people?