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.


Half Nelson

Genre: Drama

Dan Dunne is a history teacher in a Brooklyn school populated by poor Hispanic and African-American kids. Though he’s an inspiring teacher in the classroom, Dan has a drug problem that is spiralling out of control. When Drey, a young student, catches Dan smoking crack in the school toilets, the...


Genre: Horror

In 1978, the BBFC viewed John Carpenter's teenage slasher picture Halloween.

Happy Together

Genre: Romance

Wong Kar-wai’s celebrated romantic comedy follows two gay men from Hong Kong, Ho Po-wing and Lai Yiu-fai, as they move to Argentina to try and save their ailing relationship. The film won wide critical acclaim when it was first seen at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.


Genre: Comedy

Heathers is a satirical teen comedy about a group of high school bullies which garnered critical acclaim and cult status after its release in the late 1980s. The film's stars, Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, had strong teenage fan bases at the time.

Heaven's Gate

Genre: Drama, HISTORICAL, Western

Michael Cimino’s epic western sees two former friends on opposite sides in the 1892 Johnson County Wars, a conflict between rich landowners in Wyoming and an influx of European immigrants trying to make new lives on the American frontier. The film’s financial and political impact are now part of...

Henry - Portrait Of A Serial Killer

Genre: Crime, Horror

Although it was made in 1986, John McNaughton's Henry - Portrait Of A Serial Killer was shelved by its own US distributor until 1989. When the film finally emerged, it was screened without a certificate at the National Film Theatre and the Scala Cinema in London, both of whom had special...

Hot Fuzz

Genre: Action, Comedy

As a follow-up to the popular comic zombie film Shaun Of The Dead, writing team Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright came up with another spoof, Hot Fuzz.The film was submitted for classification and released in 2007. The examiners viewing the film noted the main issues as :• several uses of strong...


Genre: Drama

Hunger is a dramatisation of the actual events in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland during The Troubles.  It was passed at 15 for strong language, violence and medical gore. 

Hustler White

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Hustler White is a fictionalised study of male hustlers operating in Los Angeles.  After a screening at the National Film Theatre, without a certificate, the film was submitted to the BBFC for cinema classification on 26 March 1996.  Interestingly, it was one of the last films to be submitted to...