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Dustin Hoffman blames Hollywood over Dunblane

The Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman yesterday chose the Cannes Film Festival as the venue for an attack on cinema's falling standards on violence.

Hoffman, whose career has spanned more than 30 years, said that in Hollywood today commerce is "mixed with violence" in a way that he had never seen before.

And referring to the recent mass murders in Dunblane and in Tasmania, Hoffman said: "Look at this global community we live in and what happens in Tasmania and what happens in Scotland. Are you saying it [film violence] doesn't have anything to do with it?

"Do I feel that it contributes? Absolutely. I feel it all contributes. I had a discussion with a friend of mine the other night. I don't know whether you have heard about this in Europe but there were two kids, six and eight years old, who attacked a baby in Chicago. Our feeling about it was that this was kind of normal behaviour and that the human being is at best the lowest of savages. We are born savages and if you have little kids like I do you have to tell them 'What are you doing? You can't put your fingers in your brother's eyes like that, how would you like someone to do it to you?'

"But now there is a total absence of that kind of training and the opposite is even in effect. If those kids are seeing violence in front of them or seeing an older person doing that kind of thing they are going to do the same thing.

Hoffman, the star of numerous films including the violent Straw Dogs and Marathon Man, said he rejected scripts that featured gratuitous violence.

"It personally affects my own decisions. I look at a script and if it has what I think is gratuitous violence I won't do it. I haven't taken any steroids lately so it's not a difficult decision to make."

The actor, who won his two Oscars for Kramer v Kramer and Rain Man, said that he attended a Hollywood fundraising dinner a year ago when President Bill Clinton criticised the level of violence in films.

"All of us so-called heavyweights were there, the stars, the directors and the studio heads. We all stood around watching Clinton and I thought he was quite brave because he came into Hollywood and he was saying cut down on the violence."

"He said: 'You know when I see violence, or when you see violence or your kids see violence, they have mothers and they have fathers and you have three things; you have work, you have family and a certain financial security.'

"But he said that there were many people, and kids who are impressionable, who don't have any of the above and he said they are being affected differently by that kind of stuff on the screen. He said 'to you guys it's just entertainment but I think it's hitting another level to a lot of those other kids.'

"I could see everybody applauding but I knew it was going to be business as usual as soon as Clinton had gone and everyone was going to go right back and make the same kind of movies.

"It's part of the whole thing. Commerce is mixed with violence now in a way that I am unaware of in my lifetime."

Major's guns pledge, page 2