Sunday, May 17, 2009

How to turn a 15 into a 12A.

From the bbfc entry for Angels and Demons -

This film was originally shown to the BBFC in an unfinished version. The BBFC advised the company that the film was likely to receive a '15' classification but that the requested '12A' certificate could be achieved by making reductions in four scenes. In particular the BBFC suggested that sight of blood splattering onto a character's face, sight of a character screaming in pain as he burns, sight of a wound being injected and sight of a character self-immolating and burning should all be reduced. When the finished version of the film was submitted, all these reductions had been made satisfactorily and the film was classified '12A'.

So there you go.

This reminds me a bit of 2006 actually, when The Da Vinci Code came out and it got a 12A, but had to be cut. However, in The Da Vinci Code, it wasn't blood, but the music that scared the censors, something truly unprecedented:

The BBFC told executives at Sony, who are distributing the film in Britain, that unless significant changes were made to the film's audio content they would end up with a restrictive 15 certificate, which would have had a serious impact on the film's box office prospects.

A move to turn down a film's certification on the basis of its soundtrack is virtually unheard of. Normally, film producers have to cut only visual scenes to get the certification they require.

"It was when the movie was viewed again with the soundtrack that the problems emerged," a studio source said. "Everyone was full of praise for the score but the BBFC felt that the way it was being used to build up the tension was simply too much for very young children.

"The BBFC also thought that the film had a very high 'crunch factor'. You didn't just see the fight scenes, you heard the bones break."

Aware that anything other than a 12A certificate would have undermined the film's commercial prospects, Sony was forced to moderate the audio content for the finished version of the film. Last week, it was finally granted the desired 12A certificate by the board.

A BBFC spokesman said: "We advised Sony that, as things stood, the film would receive a 15 certificate unless changes were made. A good score is obviously there to build up the tension. But in this case, we felt it was making things too tense for a very young audience.

''The sound mix was also accentuating the violence to a degree which was unacceptable for a young audience."

"You do have to wonder if just turning down the sound is going to help matters that much," he said. "Even after the sound has been adjusted, you are still left with the problem of the violent imagery and it's this kind of imagery which really worries people."

Sue Palmer, an expert on child development and the author of Toxic Childhood, said: "It is an interesting response by the BBFC. The soundtrack is another dimension which reinforces what we see without us being very aware of it. However, children will still be seeing scenes of violence that they cannot deal with.

"We seem to assume that children mature at a faster rate and can handle more explicit material, but they can't. They are as emotionally vulnerable as they ever were."


Personally, whilst I know the film made a lot of money and the 12A/PG-13 ratings played a part in that, I would have probably enjoyed it a bungload more had I not watched it with 10 year old chavs in the audience. So I'm quite curious as to what the 15-rated version was like. For now though, enjoy the amusing warning -


Anonymous said...

Personally I thought The Da Vinci Code and The Dark Knight should both have been 15.

Besty said...

Slow day in office?

Emma said...

Feck off.