Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Contains Mild Peril

I'm not sure if you've noticed but Cinema classifications have become works of comic genius. We've come a long way since the board of censors just scraped a random ranking on each film without any indication of why it was given; now every film has a little description of why you might (or might not) want to go and see it. More often than not the descriptions are becoming almost as compelling as the films.

I'd like to share a few favourites with you before I reveal the absolute classic of all film rankings. My most recent update from Odeon Cinemas told me that a film I'd never heard of (and rated PG, for all ages essentially) contained 'mild language and sexy dancing'. I was tempted if only to find out what censors think sexy dancing actually looks like - I suspect it was nothing like the image I had conjured up in my filthy mind.

Another film on show that week, 'The Edge of Love', contained 'strong language and bloody injury detail' which probably tells you all you need to know - just the one detail mind. Similarly 'Taken' is described as having 'strong violence and scene of torture' in which I'm not sure whether they've left out a definitive 'a' to nominate one scene or a plural 's' for many. Or possibly the censors are either illiterate or having typographical problems, it happens to us all.

Frequently you may be forced to wonder whether you favour strong language or violence, it's a hard choice made no easier by the classifications of 'Death Race' and 'Righteous Kill'. The former contains 'strong violence and language' whilst the latter has 'strong language and violence'. I hate to be petty (that's a lie btw) but does this mean that the language is stronger than the violence in one and vice versa in the other? I think we should be told.

Sometimes the descriptions are quite precise - 'contains hard drug references, bleeped strong language and sex references' or 'contains infrequent moderate sex references and language' (infrequent and moderate? Forget it). Occasionally they might make the film sound more interesting than it is, for instance 'Mamma Mia' contains 'mild language and sexual references' which sounds a damn sight more enticing than saying 'contains Meryl Streep, lots of Abba songs and is primarily for women and gays' but obviously a lot less accurate.

The daddy of all film classifications has to be the one given to Beowulf. Where most films have a sentence at most, Beowulf's specifically worded classification was four paragraphs long - it was practically a book and almost certainly better than the film itself. I am compelled to share the highlights of this epic classification:

Bloody disembowelling
Repeated monster eyeball stabbing
Monster's heart ripped from chest
Monsters ripping people in 2
(not sure why the use of number rather than word)

And of course my favourite of all time -

Sung references to masturbation and fellation

Frankly with a review like that, who wouldn't want to see it?

It was so amazing that I actually took a photo of the printed note on the door of the theatre. I'm only sad that I couldn't capture the whole page (and that it's not a better pic). I include it here only because you may not otherwise believe me.

Should you wish to research this matter further the following site will be of interest:

http://www.bbfc.co.uk/recent/index.php?media=film

This one is even better since it also reveals the latest 'adult' features to find their way onto video: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/recent/index.php?media=film

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