It was William Shakespeare who remarked ‘brevity is the soul of wit’, and with regards to that quote in many walks of life (for example, intolerable guys who’s arrogance would make Gaston from Beauty and the Beast appear modest droning on about how oh-so-clever they are for having passed their CFA exams), The Bard was not wrong.
When it comes to BBFC extended reports, however, it has caught my attention that the level of detail of the reports have shrunk each year since they implemented the ‘extended insight’ protocol back in 2009.
Compare, for example, the extended insight for two 12A rated films: Sucker Punch (2011) and Battle of the Sexes (2017). The former contained 735 words, the former, 115.
American Özil was so much better as Billie Jean King in this than in La La Land, but, because she'd just won an Oscar (and the awards bodies realised they'd been more than a little generous to shower her with the win), Stone barely featured in the 2018 awards conversation. A shame for her, especially as her portrayal of a sportsperson was light-years ahead of Margot Robbie's Oscar-begging in I, Tonya which did get nominated, but then again, her fake-woke BAFTA speech was insufferable, so, you reap what you sow.
Even making adjustments for the fact that Sucker Punch has four category-defining issues and Battle of the Sexes only has one, if we extrapolated BoS’s length to a film that had four category-defining issues now, it would be a risible 157 words long (Despite the report being 115 words long, most of that was describing the plot and other incidental issues. There are only 14 words about the category-defining issue. 14 x 4 + (115 – 14) = 157).
It feels like examiners are getting lazy.
One good thing that’s implemented now, which is for the sake of aesthetics of using the app more than anything, is that all the category-defining issues have their own header, so that if parents have certain trigger points, they can get to the topic at hand quicker than the case of the Sucker Punch report, which was a mass of text.
However, the Sucker Punch report was far more informative than the Battle of the Sexes one.
So, I took the best of both worlds regarding BBFC report-writing – the in-depthness of the early 10s and fused it with the neat compartmentalisation of the insights of the late 10s, and wrote a ‘prototype BBFC report’, ie one with the kind of detail I’d like to see for every film, for Beast!
For comparative purposes, here is the actual BBFC report for Beast.
Recommended BBFC rating: 15 for strong violence, injury detail, sex, language.
Beast is a British drama-thriller, set in Jersey, in which a young woman embarks on a romantic relationship with a man who becomes a prime murder suspect.ViolenceScenes of strong violence include a stabbing to the throat using scissors. A woman is hit over the head with a metal object and strangled. Later, a wounded character is choked for a period of time before they die.
The film contains an act of deliberate self-injury when a woman squeezes some shards of glass in her bare palm, causing bloodshed.
The visual detail of these instances of violence, as well as the dark tone that accompanies them, means the violence in Beast surpasses the 12A-level (‘There may be moderate violence but it should not dwell on detail’), and is better-suited at 15 (‘Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury’).
There are scenes of animal hunting, including an injured rabbit being repeatedly struck by the butt of a gun.
Gory injury detail arises from some of the aforementioned sequences of violence. There are also close-ups of bloody injury in the aftermath of a car crash, with sight of open wounds and lacerated cuts on a character’s skin. The level of detail in these scenes, like the violence, exceed what is permitted in a 12A film.
There are crime scene photos of dead bodies, which include images of murdered girls with mud in their mouths. The disturbing nature of these images are more appropriately placed at 15 than 12A.
SexThere is a strong sex scene between a clothed couple in a field. The scene features thrusting, breast groping and changing of positions before the woman straddles the man. Although the sex scene contains no nudity, it goes beyond the allowance of sex at 12A, which says that ‘sexual activity must be briefly and discreetly portrayed’. The protracted nature of the scene, sensual sounds and overall erotic charge of it mean it is better placed at 15, where ‘sexual activity may be portrayed, but usually without strong detail.’
Later, another sex scene occurs in a car, where there is thrusting and brief, incidental nudity.
LanguageThere are about a dozen usages of strong language (‘f_ck’). This exceeds the allowance for strong language at 12A, which stipulates that strong language should be infrequent (unless there is special contextual justification). Milder terms include ‘cock’, ‘shit’, ‘hell’, ‘bloody’ and ‘damn’.
There is some discriminatory language, when a Portuguese character is referred to as a ‘Porko’. The characters using this term are presented as unpleasant, and the work as a whole does not condone the use of discriminatory language.
Other issues include some natural nudity in a bathing scene, references to sexual violence and flashing lights during a scene set in a nightclub.
It’s not out in cinemas any more, but I recommend Beast very much. A very gripping, psycho-sexual, twisty thriller, with a magnetic performance from Jessie Buckley which currently heads my ‘favourite performances of 2018’ list (other performances on that list presently include Anton Yelchin in Thoroughbreds, Jennifer Garner in Love, Simon, Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther and Jesse Plemmons in Game Night).
Comic timing on point from this dude