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BFI plays host to Uncut season of films

Uncut, BFI

Preview by Jack Foley

THE BFI is playing host to a season of films that have had trouble getting past the board of censors in celebration of the BBFC’s centenary.

Uncut runs throughout the month of November and features films as notorious as Irreversible (pictured), The Killer Inside Me, Pink Flamingos and Shock Corridor.

It has often been said that it is the inevitable fate of all censors to appear foolish to the next generation… what looks terrifying and subversive today will almost certainly seem tame tomorrow.

Yet over the course of their hundred-year evolution the BBFC have reacted to the challenges of change by moving gradually from censoriousness to certification.

Originally (and appropriately) named the ‘British Board of Film Censors’, they became the ‘British Board of Film Classification’ in 1984, signalling a shift away from the rigorous restrictions of the past to the more open possibilities of the future.

Yet it was not until the beginning of the 21st century, following a period of extensive pubic consultation, that a complete overhaul of classification guidelines saw the Board’s primary purpose shifting from strictly enforced restriction to the provision of information.

Today, under the remit of classifying for children while allowing adults to choose what they watch within the confines of the law, the BBFC has become arguably the most open and accountable regulatory body in the world.

This season presents an overview of some of the issues that have troubled and occasionally confounded our censors over a century of cinema, using key titles to illustrate the Board’s changing responses to confrontational material.

From the teensploitation terrors of Blackboard Jungle, through the sexual frankness of The Killing of Sister George, to the obscenity prosecutions that hounded The Evil Dead and the more recent furores surrounding Crash, each of these films presents a case-study in the BBFC’s negotiation of UK law, public opinion, political pressure, and principles of public protection and free speech.

Some subjects, such as the portrayal of sexual violence, continue to prove divisive, with Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me sparking cries of outrage after it was passed uncut by the BBFC.

Others, such as the trimming of Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for family audiences, have attracted less attention in the popular press.

Decide for yourselves whether or not our censors and classifiers have got it right or wrong over the years, with this varied programme of potentially cut-able classics.

Click HERE to find out the full programme and ticket availability.