Film Certificates

30 May 2009

Welcome to the archive

This post is old… It's probably been exported and imported from at least three different blogging platforms over the year. That probably means that there are broken images and links. If the post is technical in nature, any adivce is out of date and irrelevant. Or more likely, it was the wafflings of bored-past me with too much time on his hands. If it is the latter I would probably cringe if I re-read it. But it's here because it's part of my past, not my present.

In the last academic year I have seen the following films at the cinema:
I'll be the first one to say that I regret going to see some of these films; City of Ember was on the whole a bad film with redeeming qualities and fits quite nicely in the two star category, admittedly the film was not aimed at me, however it will still be judged.  I also didn't really like watching Saw V, I appreciate the elegance of the way it all linked together, et al, however it really wasn't my film, again a two star film.  However this post isn't about about me rating films it is about the BBFC, the British Board of Film Classification, and their ratings of films.
BBFC rating
Some of the ratings that have been given have been spot on, City of Ember getting a PG completely fair enough, and at the other end of the scale Watchmen and Saw  getting an 18 is valid, and spot on, there is no way that they could of got less.  However can someone explain to me how films like The Dark Knight and Quantum of Solace got out on a 12a certificate?

A quick little piece of education: the 12a certificate replaced the 12 certificate in the cinema, while the 12 certificate still applies to DVD, any film that would have received a 12 certificate in the cinema would now get the 12a rating.  It was officially came into use in 2002, and means that any person under the age of 12 can enter the film, as long as they are doing so with a person over the age of 18 accompanying them.

Films within the 12a certificate should fall within the following boundaries (excerpt from
Sexual activity may be implied. Sex references may reflect what is likely to be familiar to most adolescents but should not go beyond what is suitable for them.

Violence must not dwell on detail. There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood. Sexual violence may only be implied or briefly and discreetly indicated.

Dangerous techniques (eg combat, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on imitable detail or appear pain or harm free. Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
Is it me or is sexual activity a tad vague?  You could get away with almost anything in films under a 12a certificate then... actually Quantum of Solace pretty much did.  However note the fifth and seventh word; 'implied' and 'references'.  If I am reading this correctly, under this rating you can only imply sexual activity, not actually show it.

Now onto the following two categories, violence and imitation.  How on earth did the Dark Knight pass these?  You have this scene within the film where one of the lead characters, Harvey Dent, is missing half of his face, and this is dwelled on in graphic detail.

Also from all sides, Batman, the Joker, the police and Two Face violence is seen as the only way to get things done, the whole film is just one fight after another.  Don't get me wrong, there is a story line running though, however it is held together with knives and fists.  That in itself seems to be glamorising easily accessible weapons?

Am I saying that the BBFC is a broken system? No I'm not, however it has been making mistakes, and an increasing number recently.  The rules need to be tightened up, maybe even rewritten in some cases.  The 12a certificate was a mistake, and one that needs to be rectified.  Maybe I have an old-fashioned view of things; I'm not used to this modern world, however I don't think it is a great idea that sex and violence should be thrown at that level to 12 year olds...
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