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Case studies

Welcome to the BBFC Case Studies. They are all written by BBFC staff and explore how and why works were rated, cut or even banned.

Please note that all our Case Studies and From The Archive files are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,) without prior written permission of the BBFC. You should email us if you wish to reproduce any of these materials.

The film Case Studies tell you why we did what we did and offer background information that you won’t find anywhere else. Find out why some films and BBFC decisions were discussed in the news media, what works were complained about, and which ratings were praised. You can also browse our From The Archive studies which showcase fascinating historical artefacts from our archives and listen to our popular Podcasts. 

Some like A Clockwork Orange are works you will definitely have heard of. Others like Freaks are lesser known but important films. And some are films like Juno and Fight Club that you might have seen but had no idea they caused a stir when submitted to the BBFC. We provide Case Studies for all films we introduce as part of our longstanding relationship with Film Education’s National Schools Film Week.  Though we no longer rate video games there are some video games case studies which should offer an historical view of how we treated some well-known video games.

We regularly update the Case Studies, and add new titles several times a year. We welcome suggestions for new Case Studies, but, as each one takes a while to research and write, we prioritise requests. You can email us to suggest a Case Study.

If you are researching a specific title and would like access to the BBFC's paper file archive this may be possible depending on the age of the work. You can request access to our archive in Education resources.

 

Caligula

Genre: Drama

Based on Suetonius's Lives of the 12 Caesars, Caligula had been creating legal difficulties and controversy long before it was submitted to the BBFC for classification. Although made in 1976 the film was not premiered until 1979, by which time both the original writer (Gore Vidal) and the Director...

Cannibal Holocaust

Genre: Drama, Horror

This 1979 Italian cannibal horror film was not submitted to the BBFC at the time of its original production, presumably because no distributor felt that it was likely to be acceptable for classification at that time. Instead, a version of the film that had already been slightly pre-cut by its...

Chronicle

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Chronicle is a scifi drama about three Seattle high school students - Andrew, Matt and Steve – who develop extraordinary ‘super’ powers after climbing into a deep crater. They initially delight in their new powers of strength, telekinesis and flight, and bond over their secret. However, Andrew's...

Cloverfield

Genre: Horror

Cloverfield was first seen by BBFC examiners in an unfinished state, for advice as to its likely classification category. An advice screening is a facility offered by the BBFC to distributors.

Coraline

Genre: Animation, Children, Fantasy

While adults might pay for a cinema ticket to endure strong, bloody, gory horror of films such as Saw and Hostel, they aren’t the only audience for horror at the cinema. Films aimed at children have their fair share of scary moments, and always have. So how does the BBFC treat horror aimed at...

Crash

Genre: Drama

David Cronenberg's film of J G Ballard's controversial 1973 novel had already aroused comment in the press before it was submitted to the BBFC. Its screening at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival had provoked the Evening Standard's film critic, the late Alexander Walker, to describe the film as 'beyond...