Did the BBFC see a different film?

Don’t get me wrong, The Dark Knight is bloody brilliant (although I want to see it a second time before commenting on how good), but there is no way in hell I’d consider taking a six year old to see it – which I can legally do with its current certificate. The BBFC’s comments on its decision are as follows;

THE DARK KNIGHT tells the story of Batman’s continuing war on crime and in particular his personal battle with the psychotic Joker. It was passed ‘12A’ for moderate violence and sustained threat.

The BBFC Guidelines at ‘12A’ state that ‘violence must not dwell on detail’ and that ‘there should be no emphasis on injuries or blood’ and whilst THE DARK KNIGHT does contain a good deal of violence, all of it fits within that definition. For example, in one of the stronger scenes, Batman repeatedly beats the Joker during an interrogation. The blows however are all masked from the camera and despite both their weight and force; the Joker shows no sign of injury. There are also scenes in which the Joker threatens first a man and then a woman with a knife and whilst these do have a significant degree of menace, without any actual violence shown they were also acceptably placed at ‘12A’. In the final analysis, THE DARK KNIGHT is a superhero movie and the violence it contains exists within that context, with both Batman and the Joker apparently indestructible no matter what is thrown at them.

THE DARK KNIGHT also contains some special make up effects that whilst clearly not real, have the potential to be moderately frightening.

Moderate violence – moderate? We’ve come a long way in twenty years when The Evil Dead had problems because one scene showed a pencil being used as a weapon – presumably because sticking it in an ankle is more imitatable than putting it through someone’s eye. It feels as if the BBFC is becoming more like the MPAA in that large scale studio films are given more leeway than smaller films recieve. If anyone is in doubt, consider the following guideline from the BBFC.

Dangerous techniques (eg combat, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on imitable detail or appear pain or harm free. Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.

In connection with the Joker’s comments;

I use a knife because guns are too quick. Otherwise you can’t savour all the emotions. You know who people are in their last moments.”

Now, I’m not suggesting censorship of this – but please, can we have a little more consistency in the decisions please? I’m in danger of saying something that I thought I never would.

Bring back James Ferman?

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