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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)