Classifying Trailers


I would give Closer a 15 rating. Reason being that the language is strong, but its used in a particular enviroment. The sexual language is very common but its used within the conversation. There is anger shown by the male who you expect to dominate the woman, this could include promoting physical violence upon women.

Harry Brown:

I would give this film an 18 rating. The gang culture is intimmidating towards us viewers and they are shown mugging and also smoking drugs. There is also an incident where a woman with a push pram is shot by two of them on a bike, which is also illegal on public footpaths, we also have a POV of this which makes us feel in the action and responsible.


Contemporary vs Previous Practices

Things that I/Others find offensive in films:

  • Django Unchained – Racism
  • Human Centipede – Creepy and unexplainable events
  • Context – reasons for the offenses, satisfaction or vendetta (revenge)
  • Treatment of animals
  • Scary characters in kids movies and TV – The Penguin in Wallace and Grommit

Video Points:

  • Are The BBFC part of a solution or a problem towards movies?
  • “The BBC are ahead of the system in the USA. They are approachable, open and fair”.
  • Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

Image result for american movie censorship

  • The BBFC have improved over their past times, but are still making inapropaite decisions today.
  • The idea that adults cant be trusted to watch what they want when they want is “ridicoulus”.
  • Publishers think nothing of hacking a film to make them achieve a desired rating, why remove quality over financial gain.
  • The uncut version of The Women in Black is not available for any adults. Yet a 15 certifiacte version of the film has been passed, the distributors have not decided to make it available.
  • The Hunger Games was a 12A on both cinema and DVD release, being a trimmed film. Yet the Blu-ray version was a 15 certificate. This is part of the complaints as Blu-ray copies cost more than a standard DVD, again winning commercially.
  • A normal film with extras and commentary can require as much as £2000, something which is forced upon distributors. Everything on the disc has to be certified.
  • The economics is not an issue for larger distributors, but for smaller ones it becomes very difficult.
  • Just because you can take a child under 12 to a 12A viewing, doesnt necessarily mean you should.
  • More parents should check out what a film contains before going to view it, then they man not be so surprised as to see what appears in the film.
  • Warhorse was filled with with young children, most of who became very upset with the incidents.
  • One complaint over The Vow was over a viewer, who had been advised that the film may not be of interest towards her  5 year old daughter, another member of staff asked the mother to control her daughter running around the cinema screen becuase of boredom.
  • Should we have another rating? Should we have a lower 12A rating that denies children for example under 8 can view the film. This would stop inapropiate viewings and also wouldnt reduce the experience when watching the film.
  • The Muman Centipede – 32 Cuts to even pass as the 18 Classification

The 12A Certificate:

  • In 2013 the BBFC found out that 75% of the population understood that the 12A rating is generally for children 12 and over, but can also go when accompanied by ann adult.
  • The BBFC saw a rise in the number of 12A films released during 2013, with 87 more films classified 12A in 2013 compared to 2012.
  • The BBFC also carried out their latest large scale public consultation in 2013, which showed 92% of recent film viewers agreed with BBFC age ratings for films and videos they had seen recently.
  • Children develop at different rates and while one child may understand the issues in a particular 12A film, another child may find the film distressing.

Pros for Parents:

  • They are able to take thier children to more viewings, staying together as a family.
  • They viewing will provide them with a sense of security.
  • The children are watching a film that may be more towards the childs genre tastes. More action, horror etc.


Films With The Most Complaints

It’s very unusual for everyone to be unanimous about someone or something, especially in the media. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) face many complaints over their ratings of films in cinema and home release. Here is a blog post about which have had the most complaints through all of time and more recently, both big and small productions.

Spectre (2015) –

Image result for spectre poster

The 24th instalment of the famous 007 franchise was handed 40 complaints over 2015, the most of any film in that year. According to the BBFC’s annual report, published on Friday, Spectre’s distributor sought advice on how it could secure a 12A classification during the film’s post-production.”One scene involving an eye-gouging was slightly too strong for the company’s preferred 12A classification,” the report said. “We therefore suggested reductions to this scene. What remains in the classified version of the scene is a brief implication of what is happening, with only limited visual detail.” Another scene, showing the bloody aftermath of a suicide, was similarly reduced. The BBFC added that a separate torture scene involving a “larger-than-life hero” like Bond contained a “lack of detail” that made it acceptable for a 12A rating.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) –

Image result for kingsman poster

This film that was also released in the same year as Spectre gained 38 complaints. Many concerned the level of violence in the 15-rated comedy spy thriller, particularly during a fight scene in a church. The BBFC said it saw a version of the film before it was complete and “offered advice” on how to achieve the distributor’s desired 15 rating. Otherwise, it pointed out, the film would have been classified 18. “While there are some strong moments of violence in the film, they are relatively brief and do not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury to the extent they require an 18 classification,” the BBFC said.

Minions (2015) –

Image result for minions poster

The kids action/adventure film that achieved a U-rating received 16 complaints. The animated film that was a follow up towards the two films in the Despicable Me series, had the audience mainly concerned about a scene set in a medieval-style torture dungeon. “The Minions are stretched on a rack, where it is apparent that they do not come to any harm, and this develops into them slipping unharmed through a noose and playing with the gallows,” the BBFC said. “The scene takes place in an unrealistic, comic and slapstick manner which is likely to be familiar to young viewers, who expect the Minions to survive. “The realistic risk of harmful imitation is very low indeed.”

2013 saw a record number of movies being handed the 12A certificate, are they handing it out too easily?

Jack Reacher (2013) –

Image result for jack reacher poster

The film received 26 complaints about its 12A certificate for cinema and how the character was almost promoting violence. Tom Cruise played a character that was pretty awesome, this could be have seen as promoting physical violence towards children.

The Dark Knight (2008) –

Image result for the dark knight poster

The highly rated film was controversially handed a  12A certificate in 2008 received just under 400 complaints eventually.  The BBFC say that “An analysis of these complaints showed that less than 10% of those who complained about the film’s unsuitability for children had actually accompanied children to screenings of the film.” They continued to say that “It was also clear that many had not seen the film but were responding to press stories about it. A further trend was noted that once the interest ceased, the complaints significantly declined though the film continued to be screened nationwide.” This will always be regarded as one of the most unexpected certificates.

Manhunt 2 –

Image result for manhunt 2 poster

was a video game created by Rockstar Games, also creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, was rejected for a certificate by the BBFC. They stated that the game had an “unrelenting focus on stalking and brutal slaying”. Because of this initial ban the BBFC received over 700 complaints from the gaming community over its rejection. The game went through several appeals before it was finally granted an 18 certificate in March 2008, 5 month after the worldwide release. The BBFC believed that the content was too extreme, especially as when playing the game you are effectively controlling the violent act, you are the character.

Then vs Now

To What Extent Do We Have The Freedom To View?

The Internet:

  • Creating fake accounts – It’s increadibly easy to create fake accounts online with other names, nationalities and most importantly age. This factor means that we can watch anything we want by just scrolling futher down the years.
  • Purchasing Items – when buying items online we often have to be of a certain age. In this situation we normally have our parents to buy these items for us. Including explicit music, films, tv and games.
  • Viewing TV on demand – When normally going to watch TV online you have a pop up asking whether you are over a certain age due towards swearing, sexual refrences etc. To pass this all you have to do is tick the box and then you are free to watch the TV program, underaged.

Then vs Now:

Video Recordings Act (1984) – Was created to combat the huge number of unrated home recordings in the Video Nastie era. The video films would now have to be regulated in order to protect children from viewing horror films. Video shop owners would now not be able to hand out videos to any age.

1955 – The BBFC changed their names from ‘Censors’ to ‘Classification’.

Over time the BBFC have become less strict on our viewing as a nation, sex and violence has become standard in most TV and film. This means we are seeing more now than we would have 50 years ago, thereofore having more freedom to view.

Contemporary vs Previous Practices

The BBFC and The Video Nasties Continued:

James Ferman

  • James Ferman took over at a very controversial time in the video industry. Had done 18 years as a television director, he believed this made him sensitive towards film makers.
  • James Ferman was good at the PR game, he put on clips that the examiners had to view and how extreme some were. He showed some scenes that he and the team had cut from films.
  • His techniques made everyone pro censorship, by showing them the cut versions and then the uncut versions, this showed the public what extents the examiners were dealing with.

Image result for james ferman

  • Had issues under class – that lower classed people couldnt watch violent films as they are less likely to forget and not produce the scene in real life, higher class and better eductated could get around this apparently.
  • He had the attitude of we know better than you. He was becoming less like his censors, a failing relationship.
  • The Excorsist – James said he would never allow that film on video as the 12 year old girl would encourage the younger audiences.
  • At this time 40% of homes at thid time didnt contain any children.
  • The Last Temptation of Christ – One of the first films that battled religion rather than sex, violence or drugs. BLASPHEMY – the action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God.
  • Banning something on video is meaning that the content is so bad that nobody whatever age can view in thier own home. This was a big statement and must have meant that the fims were bad.

Hungerford Massacre

  • The offender, who killed the innocent villagers, was related towards Rambo by the media (because he wore a bandanna).
  • Especially the knifes and handguns were seen as macho, being related towards Rambo.

Image result for hungerford massacre

Home Viewing

  • VPRC (Video Packaging Review Comitee)
  • The BBFC must take into accoint must take into account that children might be in the home/watch the film. Also take into account that the children could stop and rewind and watch theh scene again, again and again.
  • Some argue that this made them seem less violent as after watching it several times, yes it did become less vilent, but that you can see how the scene was made with effect, props etc.

Sex and Violence

  • Is the violence portrayed in a sexual manner? They should’nt make it erotic. Rapes where women are dominated and humilitaed can also be erotic to some audiences.
  • The New York Ripper – cutting some women up with knifes, they only makes films for what they think there is an audience for, that was the sickening part of the films.
  • I Spit On Your Grave – is used as an examining tool for new examiners, to see there reactions and thought to the gang rape scene.
  • 18 category still doesnt give adults what they wanr to see


  • Revenge of The Ninja – samurai swords and ninja stars
  • Films with chainsaws were likely to be banned.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – using saussages as nunchucks
  • Friday The 13th (Final Chapter)

James Bulger Killing 1993 and the Moral Panic that followed

  • Child’s Play 3 (18)- was suggested as inspiration towards the two offenders that killed the child. Although there was no evidence. It was considered an ordinary horror film, not as worse as many of the Vidoe Nasties, it was just handed this title because of the murder.
  • The judge had blamed the video industry, although he had no evidence what so ever.
  • Those complaining about the film were those who handnt or who had never watched a horror film.

Image result for james bulger newspaper

  • It was cheaper to blame the media and the film makers than to undercover the true reasons why.
  • It was getting towards the point where any film that wasn’t child friendly wouldn’t be allowed on video release. This included classic films such as The Godfather and many more.

A black market was introduced for banned films in the UK.

James Ferman was removed from the board in 1998 due towards controversy. After passing 3 very hardcore Japanese porn films.

In 1999 the banned films were all published. And no more disastrous events took place, not to this day.



The Arrival Of Videos In The UK, Video Recordings Act Of 1984.

  • Video recorders were introduced in the UK in 1978
  • Video recorders would cost around £700 at the time, very expensive.
  • Tapes would cost around £50
  • At the time  there was no video legislation governing what could be released on video or to whom video recordings could be supplied.
  • Initially the major distributors were wary of releasing their fims on video becuase the felt video types might have an adverse effect on cinema revenues.
  • This left the market open for smaller distributors, who in most cases, could only afford to release low budget material. Including horror and pornography.
  • Becuase there was no video legislation governing video recordings, these companies were therfore able to release films that had not been submitted to the BBFC for cinema release, uncut versions of films that had been cut by the BBFC and even films that had been refused a certificate.
  • Some of the films released contained films that would be in contravention of the UK laws on animal cruelty and obscenety.
  • Even more worrying that any films were available to all ages.
  • Seduction Of The Innocent Article – Young Nasties Article about children becoming comfortable towards violence.
  • Video Nastie – Videos that show images beyond peoples imagination: extreme violence, gang rape, graphical images.
  • Quality control went out of the window with VOD dealers, they didn’t know what they were buying.
  • Production companies went out of the window, people were putting their own production names on the videos.
  • Packaging material was often worse than the film itself, Driller Killer – Drill being put into somones head.
  • Badge of honnor if you could watch a film, boasting rights at school etc.
  • I Spit On Your Grave – Woman cutting of a mans penis.
  • Mrs Whitehouse was against the Video Nasties concept, she was friends with Mrs Thatcher PM of Britain, had great support.
  • Videos Nasties were stated as “Evil”, people begun to realise there was no need for them, they were the devils work.
  • Police took and burned films that were known as Video Nasties and removed them from public sales stores.
  • The BBFC didnt at all contribute towards the list of video nasties that were removed from sale, it was all the DPP’s work.
  • They removed some films becuase of their names, they didn’t review the whole material, it would simply be too time consuming.
  • The sentences for holding and selling banned films were worse for than who delt drugs.
  • 40% of children/teenagers had apparently watched Video Nasties. This turned out to be fraud. As in the questionnaires 3 children had seen a Video nastie, and between them they had seen 17 films, roughly 40%.
  • Politicians felt that the lower classes would be immune towards the effect of videos nasties, not them because they were well educated and went to good schools.
  • In public discussions the ones that were meant to be well mannered and plote became the rude ones, talking over others arguments for the Video Nasties.
  • Some people believed that what they were seeing was real, real murders. This disgussed some viewers more than the films themselves.
  • Some members of parliment were phsyically sick.
  • The BBFC charhing for films to be regulated meant many more independant Video Nastie films were removed from the market.
  • Children of the Video Nasties are heavily influenced by the films, in their shots, creations and promotion.

Conflict Between Left and Right Wing Ideologies:


  • Graham Bright MP
  • Mary Whitehouse – Festival of Light (Pressure Group)
  • John Beyer – Media Watch


  • Martin Baker – Researcher
  • Guy Cumberbatch – Researcher
  • Liberal Journalists + Film Makers


Censorship and Regulation

The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) are the body that regulate Films for Britain. They reward films with their certificates: Universal, Parental Guidance, 12A, 12 (Disc Only), 15, 18 and R18 (Adult Movies). The BBFC state that they censor films; in a way that they’re hiding violence from us or preventing us from hearing bad language. However, some argue that the are regulating us; we have been handed guidelines and told what we can and can’t do, we have been categorised as people. Obviously some agree and disagree about how much power the non-government organisation should have, to prevent us from watching what we want when we want, so I’m going to look deeper into both Censorship and Regulation.

Types of Censorship:

  • Pre-Empitive & Punitive – used to prevent an anticipated outrage, reactions of materials. This is what the BBFC decide on what to include by their checklist, these include: Language, Violence, Sex/Nudity, Drugs. Obviously including any of these will increase the age rating as to where appropriate.
  • Direct (Legislative) – This technique is used when censorship needs to react to react to the law. This is revolved around the Obscene Publications Act, which was introduced by Roy Jenkins (BBFC CEO) in 1959. The law is explained as:

    An Act to amend the law relating to the publication of obscene matter; to provide for the  protection of literature; and to strengthen the law concerning pornography.

  • In Direct (Self Censorship) – is a type of censorship where the creator of the film removes scenes to avoid offending the public. This was done in Clockwork Orange as there were deaths similar to the one acted in the film. Also in Spider-Man where scenes were removed over actions around the twin towers of New York, not long after the 9/11 attacks.