Group sex film passed by censor

A HIGHLY controversial Danish film in which the characters pretend to be retarded and engage in some of the most explicit sex scenes outside the world of hard-core movies has been cleared for cinema release by the British Board of Film Classification.

The uncut version of Lars Von Trier's The Idiots, a comedy about a commune of young people who isolate themselves by pretending to be mentally ill or retarded, features a fleeting sexual penetration scene and erect penises in a group sex sequence. It premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival on a wave of notoriety about its copious sex and nudity.

Although it received a further screening at the London Film Festival last November, there were doubts about whether it would receive the all- clear for a national cinema release in its unabridged form.

The film's UK distributor, Metro Tartan, submitted The Idiots for classification at the beginning of December and its relatively swift sanction marks the second significant decision by Robin Duval, who took over as director of the BBFC from James Ferman four weeks ago.

The fact that Mr Duval has wasted little time in both approving The Idiots and granting The Exorcist a video release will be seen by many in the film industry as evidence of the new regime's determination to act decisively rather than let difficult issues drag on indefinitely, as has happened in the past with films such as Crash.

Although the sight of penetrative sex and erect penises is not unprecedented in British high street cinemas - the 1991 Japanese film In the Realm of the Senses featured both, - it is extremely rare.

The other likely area of controversy relates to the depiction of the mentally ill and disabled. As well as the pretence adopted by the film's central characters, The Idiots also includes extras who are genuinely disabled.

Mr Duval said: "The first issue was whether the film would be offensive to people with genuine disabilities and that required a lot of thought.

"The conclusion which we arrived at was that the approach was sensitive and positive. In no sense was it insensitive or parodic of people with genuine disabilities."

Sophie Tranchell, managing director of Metro Tartan, said: "The film works as a whole. If you watch it for half-an-hour, you will come away with the wrong impression. The people who pretend to be disabled are revealing their inner idiot. The film is more about the limitations of middle-class manners. If you are cracking up inside is it more useful to hold it in or let it out? It's about inhibitions, that's why there's so much nudity."

Mr Von Trier has a reputation as an enfant terrible of contemporary cinema. He directed the 1996 film Breaking the Waves, which earned an Oscar nomination for the actress Emily Watson and his horror series The Kingdom was shown on British television recently.

The Idiots is the first product of Dogme 95,directors who agreed to make films under strict rules, including shooting all scenes on location, using natural light and hand-held cameras. This "vow of chastity" is an attempt, they say, to return to a pure cinema, stripped of technical trickery. During the making of The Idiots, Mr Von Trier insisted on nude days when everyone, cast, crew and director, all went naked.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower