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Violence, Cinema and the BBFC

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James Shenton

on 9 May 2014

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Transcript of Violence, Cinema and the BBFC

Effects Debate on Film Content and Censorship
Violence, Cinema and the BBFC
Cinema, Certificates and Controversy
The Debate!!!
Imitable Behavior
Film Case Studies - BBFC Considerations
In order to protect children from unsuitable and even harmful content in films and videos and to give consumers information they might need about a particular film or video before deciding whether or not to view it
How Does it Get Rated?
Some films are cited to be too violent or sexual, sometimes the themes in the film are too strong and the BBFC have the authority to request compulsory cuts

After the cuts, the film can then be resubmitted to gain a certificate

In extreme cases, the BBFC have gone as far as to ban certain films
Banned and Cut Films
Do we still need the BBFC?

Does content have an effect on audiences?

Is there proof?

Do we watch film differently because of content?

Should we be protected from explicit content?

Who should protect us?

Whose responsibility is it?

Which audience theory model works?
What is the BBFC?
Be able to clearly explain the relationship between the BBFC and the cinema audience
How do films get rated?
How do audiences react to film content?
Controversial Cinematic Landmarks
Taken 2
Star Wars
A History of Violence
Gangs of New York
LOTR -Return of the King
Clockwork Orange
Apocalypse Now
Fight Club
Hot Fuzz
Mrs Doubtfire
Reservoir Dogs
Monsters Inc
Texas Chain Saw 3D
The Shining
British Board Of Film Classification
Classify mainly films but also games
They work under the Video Recordings Act 1984
They are an independent and self financing regulator – what does this mean?
Their Mission
Just like the college have a mission, the same is said for the BBFC.
Protect  the public, and especially children, from content which might raise harm risks.
Empower the public, especially parents, to make informed viewing choices
Recognise and respect adult freedom of choice within the law
Respond to and reflect changing social attitudes
Directors and the BBFC
When directors submit a film they can either:
Request a specific certificate to ensure mass audience
Have no specific rating preference
Film that had specific request
Submitted to the BBFC in an unfinished state for advice
Director Matt Reeves requested 12A
BBFC Notes: Strong threats, ‘Earth Under Threat’ plotline and ceaseless threat to humans.
Do you think it got it’s requested 12A?
Juno (2008)

Submitted to the BBFC with a PG Request

BBFC Notes: use of strong language, teenage pregnancy story
line with a mature film.

Do you think Jason Reitman got his requested PG?
Films with no specific request
BBFC Notes: That this is a tense and occasionally horrifying drama that explores nightmarish visions of injury and loneliness, but also celebrates the human spirit and the potential for endurance.
What do you think it was rated?
Was seen by most of the BBFC's examiners, and also by the BBFC Director, Robin Duval, his Deputy, and the President and Vice-Presidents, provoking a wide range of opinion.
Here were concerns under the BBFC Guidelines of the time about the glamorisation of violence and the potential for encouraging an interest in organised bare-fist fighting
After extensive consideration, the final decision was taken to require cuts under the Guidelines of between six and seven seconds to two scenes - both of which, it was felt, focused on the pleasures of beating the faces of helpless victims to a bloody mess.
Before being submitted to the BBFC for theatrical release in the UK, the film competed at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2002, where it was nominated for the Palme D’Or. During the screening, over 200 audience members walked out in disgust, whilst a handful reportedly fainted and required medical attention – but those who stayed the course gave the film a five minute standing ovation.
The Board therefore closely scrutinised the rape, weighing it against BBFC Guidelines and policy on sexual violence. Despite the unprecedented length of the scene, the BBFC considered that it was not the film’s intention to titillate, trivialise nor convey any impression other than that Alex’s ordeal is unequivocally appalling.
BBFC Notes: Contains strong bloody gore and horror. 2:05 cut through splatterBanned in October 1983‘Tree Scene’
Human Centipede 2 (2011) - BAN
A Serbian Film (2010) - CUT
Rated 18 with compulsory Cuts
BBFC Notes: The main issues for the BBFC were scenes of sexual and sexualised violence and scenes opposite images of sex and sexual violence with images of children.
Banned in several countries
Eventually classified as an 18 with 32 compulsory cuts
2 minutes removed
Obscene sexual violence
This film was submitted to the BBFC for a video release certificate in 1992 (it had previously been submitted for theatrical distribution, was passed uncut and shown widely in cinemas).

Though the film was never formally refused a video certificate, one was not actually granted until 1995. Because of the BBFC's statutory powers under the Video Recordings Act 1984, the delay amounted to a de facto ban during this period, during which a second theatrical release took place in 1994.

It has been alleged that the delay was due to political pressure applied to the BBFC's director, James Ferman, resulting at least in part from the controversy over so-called video nasties that was precipitated by the murder of James Bulger in 1993.
Despite its successes, there was a fair amount of negativity directed at Pulp Fiction regarding some of its more controversial elements. The perceived racism in the film, particularly the frequent use of the ‘N’ word, was a particularly contentious area.

The film contained strong scenes of sex, violence, strong language and drug use. It lost out on Best Picture at the Oscars to Forrest Gump.

Is the director being controversial deliberately to gain a strong audience response?
Strong use of the N word

Quentin Tarantino has defended violence in movie

Tarantino's latest film, spaghetti western Django Unchained, features graphic violence, including buckets of blood exploding from characters as they are shot

"I just think you know there's violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers," he said, adding: "It's a western. Give me a break." Tarantino

"We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn't have a sort of influence. It does." Foxx

"The media's responsibility is greater than the story teller is because... Django is violent, but it's not inspiring violence." Waltz
Clockwork Orange (1971) – BAN BY DIRECTOR
Certified 18 with no cuts.BBFC noted it had some strong violence. Taken off distribution by director Stanley Kubrick Copycat KillingsThreats to director
1. The Hypodermic Needle Model - audience is a single mass who passively receive the messages of the text

2. Uses & Gratifications - educate, identify, entertainment, social interaction and escapism

3. Reception Theory- encoding/decoding model of the relationship between text and audience - the text is encoded by the producer, and decoded by the reader, and there may be major differences between two different readings of the same code.
Taken 2 12a
Star Wars U
A History of Violence 18
Gangs of New York 18
Psycho 15
LOTR -Return of the King 12A
Precious 15
Clockwork Orange 18
Adulthood 15
Juno 12A
Apocalypse Now X/18/15
Fight Club 18
Hot Fuzz 15
Mrs Doubtfire 12/PG (2003)
Reservoir Dogs 18
Monsters Inc U
Texas Chain Saw 3D 18
The Shining 15
We reach an age rating by applying the standards and criteria contained in our Classification Guidelines
Typically, two examiners view a film for theatrical release. In most cases a Senior Examiner will confirm the examiners’ recommendation. But if the Examiners are in any doubt or fail to agree, or if important policy issues are involved, the work may be seen by other members of the Board
We look at issues such as discrimination, drugs, horror, dangerous and easily imitable behaviour, language, nudity, sex, and violence when making decisions. The theme of the work is also an important consideration. We also consider context, the tone and likely impact of a work on the potential audience.
Some critics who left the screening early described it as ‘sick’ and ‘gratuitous’. Irreversible went on to win two international film festival awards, including the Bronze Horse at the 2002 Stockholm Film Festival, and was nominated for several others.
The BBFC additionally sought advice from a clinical forensic psychiatrist about the potential effects on an audience of watching the whole film, and the rape scene in particular. She agreed that the scene is “… a harrowing and vivid portrayal of the brutality of rape. However, it contains no explicit sexual images and is not designed to titillate”.
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