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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.

 

Paranoid Park

Genre: Drama

Gus Van Sant’s study of teenage alienation and anxiety, based on a novel by Blake Nelson, is set in Portland, where Alex is trying to come to terms with his parents’ impending divorce, the demands of his relationship with his girlfriend Jennifer, and his own need to be accepted by his peers.

Peeping Tom

Genre: Thriller

After a long and generally successful association working with Emeric Pressburger in their company called The Archers, in 1960 Michael Powell (without Pressburger) directed what is now considered to be amongst his best work, Peeping Tom, in which a psychopathic killer films his victims at the...

Pink Flamingos

Genre: Comedy

John Waters' third feature was made in 1972 but was not formally submitted to the BBFC for classification until 1989. This was presumably because the film's contents led distributors to believe the BBFC would be unable to classify it without significant cuts. Given that the whole point of Pink...

Pitch Perfect

Genre: Comedy, Musical

Pitch Perfect is a 2012 American comedy drama about bitter rivalries in the world of American college competitive a cappella singing. It has the tagline 'get pitch slapped'.

Precious

Genre: Drama

Precious (full title Precious (Based On The Novel 'Push' By Sapphire)) arrived in the UK following positive reviews and media interest in the States which focussed on its portrayals of black people – some praising its hard hitting stance, others fearing it fell into negative stereotyping.  It was...

Pretty Baby

Genre: Drama

Louis Malle's drama about child prostitution in early twentieth century New Orleans had already aroused controversy in the press and overseas when it was first seen by the BBFC on 28 March 1978.  However, it raised particular difficulties for the Board given that it was submitted at the precise...