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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.

 

War Of The Worlds

Genre: Adventure, Science Fiction, Thriller

H.G. Wells’s science fiction work had been adapted in various forms since its publication in 1897; a radio broadcast version, directed by Orson Welles, had caused widespread panic in 1938. By presenting the first two-thirds as a news bulletin, Welles confused thousands of people who believed the...

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Genre: Drama

We Need To Talk About Kevin was submitted to the BBFC in July 2011. The film, produced in Britain, is an adaptation of a critically acclaimed and shocking Lionel Shriver novel about a mother trying to come to terms with her son’s high school killing spree.The film has clear category defining...

What We Do In The Shadows

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

What We Do In The Shadows is a New Zealand mock-documentary from the creators of the TV comedy series, Flight Of The Conchords. It follows the lives of three vampires who find modern life has them struggling with mundane tasks like paying rent, keeping up with household chores, trying to get into...

Wild Bill

Genre: Drama

Wild Bill is an independent British social realist drama, the directorial debut of actor Dexter Fletcher, and was released in March 2012. Set in London's East End, ‘Wild Bill’, previously something of a legend amongst the local criminal fraternity, returns home after eight years in prison....

Winter's Bone

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Winter’s Bone is the second feature-length work by director Debra Granik, who also wrote the screenplay.  The film is set in the Orzak mountains, a desperately poor part of the American South, and focuses on seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly, a young girl keeping her family together despite an absent...

WW2 films - Part 1: War is hell ... but how much can you show?

Genre: War

In part one of our special case study on classification and censorship during WW2 we look at the political conflicts between the Government and the BBFC over what should and could be shown.IntroductionOver the course of the 20th century two great upheavals occurred that marked out the century in...

WW2 Films - Part 2 - Let's talk about the war ...

Genre: War

In part two of our special case study on classification and censorship during WW2 we explore some of the most influential films of the time and how they were treated at the Censors' Office.