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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.

 

Watership Down

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The animated film was classified U in 1978 and features the vocal talents of a wide range of popular British actors such as John Hurt, Richard Briers, Ralph Richardson, Roy Kinnear and Hannah Gordon. The film was recognised as having enormous appeal to young audiences, many of whom were familiar...

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?

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When the BBFC considered the film in November 1962 there were concerns over three scenes, as detailed in the Exception Form published here. Two of the cuts that were requested – the sight of Jane kicking Blanche, and Elvira witnessing Blanche tied up and “writhing” – were indeed removed from the...

What The Censor Saw

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From the first day of business in 1912 all submissions to the BBFC were recorded by hand in our registers (and this continued up until the mid-1990s when new computer systems were introduced). The images published below show the 1923 entry for Maisie’s Marriage, one of the films that will be...

Willow (1988)

Tags: willow, case study, fantasy, archive

When Willow arrived at the BBFC, it generated much excitement for its fairy tale story, and also for its special effects. The film follows the story of a young dwarf, Willow, who must protect a special baby, Ellora, from the evil Queen Bavmorda, who has been told the baby will grow up to destroy...