British Board of Film Classification

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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.

 

Batman

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The modern U, PG, 15 and 18 categories were introduced in 1982.  However it became apparent that there was a need to cater for films which sat between PG and 15.  So in 1989 the BBFC introduced the 12 certificate and the first film to be given this rating was Batman.

BBC FOUR: Dear Censor

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Originally screened in 2011, the documentary airs again on Saturday 11 August at 11.25pm.Additional interviews with BBFC Director David Cooke and BBFC President Sir Quentin Thomasare also available on the BBC FOUR website.Originally posted August 6th, 2012. 

BBFC exhibition at BFI Southbank throughout November 2012

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 Established as the British Board of Film Censors in 1912 the BBFC has sought to reflect public opinion, protect children and, increasingly, to empower consumers for 100 years. It has moved from considering “indecorous dancing” in films in the 1910s to providing online age ratings for digital...

Behind the Scenes at the BBFC available from 23 November

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 Behind the Scenes at the BBFC, published in the BBFC’s centenary year, traces the fascinating history of film classification, censorship and controversy in Britain, and marks an unparalleled collaboration between the BBFC and leading film critics, historians and cultural commentators.

Braindead

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A blend of zombies, romance, horror and gore, gore, gore (and more gore) Braindead tells a tale of a young man struggling to balance his blossoming lovelife with the burden of an undead Mother who just won't stop attacking and zombifying the local townsfolk. The BBFC examiner reports reveal a team...