British Board of Film Classification
• The BBFC are “the independent regulator of the film and video
industry in the UK.”
• They classifying cinema releases, DVDs, video-games and
advertisements shown in cinemas.
• Their classification is only recommendatory in cinema release – it can
be over-ruled by the Local Authority. However, their classification
is mandatory on DVD and video-game releases.
Areas of a text which the BBFC consider when applying a Certification:
• Imitable Behaviour
Case study – BBFC and The Dark Knight
Using these BBFC classification details, and your knowledge of The Dark Knight, do you think the
certificate was appropriate one to give?
It ranged from personal
experience – newspaper
columnist Allison Pearson and
former Tory Party leader Iain
Duncan Smith complaining the
film was too strong for their
children – to wider condemnation
of the BBFC, its policies and its
In addition the BBFC received
over 200 complaints from
members of the public.
Most appeared after the
coverage in the press and were
along the lines that the rating
given was too low, and that the
film was too strong for younger
However, some people contacted
the Board during the media
coverage to support the „12A‟
decision, including John
Whittingdale MP, the Chair of
the Culture, Media and Sport
• “The key classification issues noted were violence and
threat, though the examining team felt the violence was, in line
with „12A‟ guidelines, both impressionistic and bloodless.
Examiners noted some scenes of strong threat when The Joker
menaces other, sometimes innocent, characters. The strongest
of these include sight of The Joker touching a gangster‟s mouth
with a knife before killing him (off screen) and a scene in which
he presses his blade into Rachel’s cheek. Examiners also
discussed the film‟s tone which included some dark and adult
• Though these and other scenes in which characters were held
hostage or beaten had considerable psychological impact, they
contained little in terms of strong detail – thus presenting a
dilemma, should the BBFC be classifying what is actually seen, or
what is imagined by the viewer?”
• Look at the list of film classifications – in pairs/small
groups create a simple checklist for each age band.
• Film classifications are:
– U; PG; 12A; 15; 18
• Look on the BBFC website at their definitions. How do
these compare with the existing classification?
• What do you think these trailers were rated
(possibly for a higher or lower audience than
the actual film)
• In pairs/3s, look at the issues on the BBFC site
• Choose ONE of the topics and produce a
presentation on how censorship and regulation has
• Find clips to support your views where possible.
• Also give examples of films that had issues with that
particular part of the regulation.
• On the BBFC website is a case study section.
• Find examples of 3 films that caused
regulation issues for the board. Bring ready to
discuss next lesson.
• What do YOU think about film regulation?
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