Case studies

From the Archive

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.


Fight Club

Genre: Drama

"The first rule of Fight Club is: 'You don't talk about Fight Club'. The second rule of Fight Club is: "You don't talk about Fight Club". Thus runs the tagline for this David Fincher film submitted to the BBFC in 1999.

Fish Tank

Genre: Drama

Fish Tank is a British drama about a marginalised young woman, Mia, on the verge of sexual and social expression. Throughout the film she attempts to forge a relationship with her mother’s boyfriend and find a ‘way out’ of her life on a council estate, where she has been excluded from school and...

Frances Ha

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Frances Ha (2012) is a US comedy drama shot in black and white. It is an independent film directed by Noah Baumbach and starring Greta Gerwig and Mickey Sumner as best friends Frances and Sophie.


Genre: Drama, Horror

Tod Browning’s 1932 film, Freaks, has a long and interesting history with the BBFC. The film was allegedly inspired by Browning’s own recollections of circus life and the ‘sideshow freaks’ that often made up a part of the draw for circuses in those days. When the film was initially released it was...