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.


L'Empire Des Sens (In The Realm Of The Senses)

Genre: Drama

Nagisa Oshima's 1976 study of erotic obsession had already caused difficulties in the US (where the print was seized by Customs) and Japan (where the book of the film was prosecuted for obscenity), before it arrived in the UK. The film was first shown here at the 1976 London Film Festival, where...

La Bete - The Beast

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Walerian Borowczyk's 1975 fantasy began life as one of the five segments of his critically acclaimed portmanteau film, Immoral Tales (1974).  Borowczyk's French producer persuaded him to remove the sequence in question, a bizarre and explicit variant on the Beauty and the Beast story, and to...

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror

In June 2001, the big budget film version of the phenomenally successful video game series was submitted to the BBFC for an advice viewing.

Last Tango In Paris

Genre: Drama

Bernardo Bertolucci's story about a purely physical relationship between two characters who meet in Paris (played by Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider) was submitted to the BBFC at the end of 1972. It had already caused controversy at the New York Film Festival in October 1972 but had also...

Let Me In

Genre: Drama, Horror

Let Me In is a US remake of the Swedish film Låt Den Rätte Komma In - Let The Right One In.  That film was based on a bestselling vampire fiction novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist, published in 2004 and translated into several languages, including English.  The original film garnered huge critical...

Little Miss Sunshine

Genre: Comedy

An unremarkable little girl called Olive harbours an ambition to win the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant in California. For a variety of reasons, she ends up making the journey there with her dysfunctional family that includes a grandfather with a drug habit, a brother who refuses to talk, a...

Love + Hate

Genre: Drama

Interracial relationships and the sometimes extreme reactions to them are the subject of this British film - and this theme proved to be one of the important classification issues.The film was submitted for age rating in November 2005, though it was not due for release until 2006. Examiners who...