Not doomed after all: Indiana Jones finally wins censorship battle

Uncut versions of classic movies to be screened to mark 100 years of the Board of Film Classification

Nick Clark
Saturday 31 December 2011 01:00
Harrison Ford in the PG-rated 'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom'
Harrison Ford in the PG-rated 'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom'

British fans of Indiana Jones will be able to see the second film in the franchise just as its director Steven Spielberg wanted, almost three decades after its release.

Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom will be screened unedited at the National Film Theatre in London for the first time at the end of next year as part of a season of films put together to celebrate the centenary of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Censors demanded a number of cuts to Temple of Doom when it was submitted in 1984 before it would grant a family-friendly PG rating.

Paramount Pictures "was keen to avoid a 15 certificate as the film was aimed at kids and families, but it was too violent and intense for a PG classification," a spokeswoman for the BBFC said. The Board would not introduce the 12 certificate for another 5 years.

The BBFC director at the time, James Ferman, flew to Los Angeles to edit the film for UK release with Spielberg. The "numerous" cuts reintroduced will please the more bloodthirsty of fans. They include close-ups of a heart being ripped out and a head cracking against a rock. A scene where Indiana Jones is forced to drink blood before being whipped will also be reinstated.

The season will also include a pre-cut version of The Devils, directed by Ken Russell who died last month, and The Evil Dead, which made the Director of Public Prosecution's "video nasties" list in 1982.

This is just one among several initiatives the BBFC is preparing for its 100th anniversary next year. David Cooke, director of the BBFC, said: "This is a chance for us to look forward and to celebrate our past."

But, Mr Cooke warned that the organisation needed to change to remain relevant in the digital era.

The organisation has been reviled, criticised and used as a political football throughout its history. It was set up three years after the 1909 Cinematograph Act. Early guidelines concerned the "unnecessary exhibition of feminine underclothing" and "material that would help the enemy of our allies".

In the BBFC's first full year, it refused certificates to 22 films on the grounds of taste. Later films passed after cuts include Gone with the Wind (1940); Lawrence of Arabia (1962); and even Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938).

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In August, the BBFC ordered two minutes of cuts to the erotic film 3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy after it appeared to sensualise a rape scene. "In the past the censors were more worried about the depictions of nudity," Mr Cooke said. But concerns over sexual violence had been growing over the past 30 years, he said.

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