Released: February 23rd, 1996Director: Danny BoyleBased on the book ‘Trainspotting’ by Irvine Welsh.Danny Boyle’s cult film about junkies in mid-nineties Edinburghhas a rather interesting history at the BBFC.Plot: A wild, freeform, rebellious trip through the darkest recessesof Edinburgh low-life, focusing on Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor)and his attempt to give up his heroin habit, and how the latteraffects his relationship with family and friends: Sean Connerywannabe Sick Boy, dimwit Spud, psycho Begbie, 14-year-oldgirlfriend Diane, and clean-cut athlete Tommy, whos nevertouched drugs but cant help being curious about them…the film was passed at 18 and opened to huge critical acclaim.Derek Malcolm of The Guardian called Trainspotting ‘anextraordinary achievement and a breakthrough British film’ andEmpire magazine awarded it a maximum five stars. The filmenjoyed an extremely successful run at the cinema, occupying thenumber one slot for a number of weeks, and the screenplay wasnominated for an Academy Award.
The film’s main classification issue is drug use andthere are several detailed scenes of heroin abusethroughout the work. There are close-ups of heroinbeing heated on a spoon and sucked into a syringe,detail of the tying of tourniquets around arms in orderto raise veins for easier injection and, in thestrongest scene, an extreme close-up of a needlepuncturing the lead character’s skin. We also seecharacters taking ecstasy and smoking marijuana.Though drug-taking is Trainspotting’s mostcontentious classification issue, the film’s language,sex and violence also place it at 18. There areseveral uses of strong language (‘f***’ and‘motherf*****’) as well as nineteen uses of ‘c***’, aword that BBFC Guidelines state should be onlyinfrequently used at 15. There are a couple of strongsex scenes, with full-frontal nudity, implied fellatioand some thrusting and an image of a dead babylying in its cot is as shocking now as it was when thefilm was first released.
Released: April 27th 2007Director: Shane MeadowsPlot: 12 year old Shaun lives with his widowed mother in asmall town in Britain. His father, an army officer, was oneof the Falkland casualties. A loner, he is befriended bysome older skinhead youth, who shave off his hair, datean older young woman, and subsequently introduce himto ex-convict Combo. Shaun unwittingly volunteers to bepart of Combos gang, and is taken to a meeting hostedby Britains right-winged National Front, which openlyadvocates ethnic cleansing; re-defines Racism as Reality;and Nazism as Nationalism. Combo then takes hisfollowers on a spree of sword and knife-wielding terror,looting a corner store run by Sandhu, all eventually getstoned and violence ensues.
This is England was awarded an 18 certificate in 2007 for very strongracist violence. The film also contains some aggressive uses of verystrong language. The use of the word c*** was exacerbated by itscombination with the highly offensive racist terms ‘w*g’, P**i,n****r and c**n.The question of whether the work could be contained at the 15category was carefully considered, given the potential appeal andrelevance to a younger audience. A number of scenes and elementsplaced the work on the 15/18 borderline:• The scene in which Combo verbally and physically threatensan Asian shop keeper whose shop he and his gang have just robbedand defiled. He calls the shop keeper a Paki cunt and violentlyswings a machete into the shop keeper’s face deliberately scaringhim. The threat is palpable and realistic, even though no blood isshed• The representation of racist ideology as attractive to thechild character Sean, and the artful ambiguous presentation of hisdeveloping world view and the impact of racist views upon this• Sight of Combo threatening some children, racially abusingthem and stroking a serrated knife along their cheeks.
The strongest scene however, which took the work to 18, was towards the endof the film when a vulnerable character, Milky, is subjected to a brutal andrealistic racist attack. The attack shows Sean’s idol, Combo, start to punch andpummel his mixed race friend Milky’s face, kicking and stamping on it. Some ofthis is shown from Milkys perspective and has a particularly visceral edge,despite the lack of blood or gory detail. It is realistic, intense and shocking withsudden tension as the scene changes from a drinking and smoking session to averbal diatribe and possibly lethal beating.The key factors which therefore placed This is England at 18, rather than 15are:• The violence is directed against a vulnerable character – Milky is easilythe most gentle of all the characters, vulnerable throughout because of his raceand lulled into a false sense of security in the scene leading up to the attack• The violence and language are unexpected and shocking – the scenestarts very calmly; the other characters dont realise whats about to happen• The scene is distressing – we see most of the film through Shaunseyes and he is especially upset and confused by what is happening• Repeated aggressive use of the word c*** along with racist termswithin the scene.
Need:• Film• Date• Content• Controversies• Cuts• Issues of concern• If historical, would these issues remain today?• Illustrate work with stills as appropriate.This Is EnglandTrainspotting