The Hunger Games, The Woman in Black, and Men in Black 3 among films complained about to the BBFC ... joined by The Railway Children

And after 40 unblemished years, family classic The Railway Children gets its first complaint

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

While few films angered the British public over the past 18 months, fans have been writing into the nation’s classification board to complain that violence and gore should be put back into several recent blockbusters.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) received letters after cuts were made to The Hunger Games and Bruce Willis blockbuster A Good Day to Die Hard to secure 12A rating, complaining there was not enough violence in the finished film.

The BBFC yesterday published its annual report for 2012, the organisation’s centenary year, and representatives from the body discussed films certified since.

The Hunger Games, based on the first book of the fantasy trilogy by American writer Suzanne Collins, generated 43 complaints about its violence and the theme of children forced to fight to the death in gladiatorial contests in the future.

Yet there were a number of complaints that criticised the decision to cut the film, which grossed over $400 million worldwide, for a 12A rating. The BBFC said: “These were mostly from young fans of the books who believed the film should remain intact and that any cuts to the violence would sanitise its impact.”

In the “cornucopia” scene in which children dash for weapons, the censors said blood had to be digitally removed from weapons and wounds. Another scene that was left on the cutting room floor focused on a knife held against a girl’s face.

A Good Day to Die Hard, the fifth in the action series, was also cut for a lower rating leaving fans up in arms. The cuts included a reduction to the bloody violence, including blood sprays when characters were shot in the head.    

Another action film that was cut for a 12A rating was Jack Reacher, which removed a suffocation scene and a shot of a blow to the back of a character’s head.

The body was quick to point out to those complaining that the filmmakers had voluntarily accepted the proposed changes to secure a rating that would ensure the film reach a wider audience.

A year earlier it had received a string of complaints over Black Swan. Some cinemagoers expecting a gentle film about ballet were seemingly unprepared for the dark tone, moments of violence and most notably a lesbian sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis.

In 2012, the film generating the most feedback was The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Of those who wrote in, 134 said it was “too dark and unsettling” for a 12A certificate and the “sense of threat, coupled with the theme of supernatural deaths of children in the film was too disturbing for young audiences”.

The BBFC added that starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, the film might have “confounded expectations” as to how scary it would be.

The Dark Knight, starring Heath Ledger, was the most complained about film of the decade when it was released. Its sequel The Dark Knight Rises, released last year, received just 10 complaints.

The BBFC has worked on tightening up its approach to sexual violence in movies, after a public consultation revealed the subject as the most pressing issue for cinemagoers. So far, no film has fallen foul of the stricter guidelines. Although films Dead Time and Dear God No! were both heavily cut under the previous guidelines.

The Woman in Black

Highest number of complaints came in for the ghost story starring Daniel Radcliffe, saying it was “too dark and unsettling for a 12A certificate”.

The Hunger Games

Complaints that it was too violent, complaints that it was not violent enough.

Men in Black 3

Complaints over its language, violence, horror and sexual innuendo - including aliens French kissing - for a PG rating

Rock of Ages

Letters came in about the dance sequences including in a lap dancing club were too sexual for a teen audience

Railway Children

The much loved children’s classic was released in 1970. Over 40 years on it received its first complaint, over fears it could encourage children to play on railway lines.