Is THIS the most disturbing, dangerous film of recent years?
The BBFC initially banned it, one of only 3 to receive this fate this decade - see the Wiki list of UK banned movies list fragment below.
|2011||The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)||Originally banned due to highly explicit sexual violence, graphic forced defecation, and potential obscenity. The film was given an official age certificate of 18 by the BBFC on 6 October 2011 while the distributors agreed to make 32 cuts (two minutes and thirty-seven seconds) prior to release.|
|2011–present||The Bunny Game||Banned due to extreme levels of sexual violence. The excessive endorsement and eroticisation of sexual violence deemed the film to be unacceptable for its potential for being highly harmful under the Video Recordings Act 1984.|
|2015–present||Hate Crime||Banned as it focused on "the terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family by the Neo Nazi thugs who invade their home."|
IS BANNING (not cutting) ACCEPTABLE? SHOULD ADULTS BE ALLOWED TO CHOOSE, WITH BBFC INFORMATION?
IS BANNING EFFECTIVE? (US DVDs, VoD, illegal download, VPNs, etc)
DO BANS SIMPLY PUBLICISE A MOVIE?
IS DISTRIBUTOR/EXHIBITOR FOCUS ON TENTPOLES A GREATER FORM OF CENSORSHIP?
SHOULD SEXUAL VIOLENCE BE SEEN AS EXCEPTIONALLY BAD? DOES THIS OVERLOOK ISSUES WITH GENERAL VIOLENT CINEMA?
IS THE OBSCENE PUBLICATIONS ACT ACCEPTABLE TODAY? HOW CAN OBSCENE BE OBJECTIVELY JUDGED?
BBFC JUDGEMENT, EVEN WITH CUTS, IS BASED ON POTENTIAL HARM - WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE FOR MEDIA EFFECTS?
WOULD AN R18 BE A SUITABLE COMPROMISE?
IS THE BBFC REALLY THE HIDDEN HAND OF THE GOVERNMENT?
DID THE ELECTION OF TORIES IN 2010 CAUSE A SHIFT IN BBFC ATTITUDE?
BBFC DECISIONS CAN BE CHALLENGED THROUGH THE VIDEO APPEALS COMMITTEE (AND OVERTURNED BY LOCAL COUNCILS)
DOES THIS SHOW BBFC IS SUPERIOR TO SECRETIVE MPAA?
MORAL PANIC: PRESS COVERAGE MADE LINK WITH 'TORTURE PORN'; MAIL EVEN LINKED TO 1996 CRASH CONTROVERSY
In June 2011, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) refused to classify The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) for a direct-to-video release, effectively meaning that the film could not legally be supplied in any format in the UK.The BBFC had given the preceding First Sequence title an 18 certificate. The board stated that they had considered First Sequence to be "undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting", but deemed it acceptable for release because the "centipede" was the product of a "revolting medical experiment". They had also taken legal advice that First Sequence was not in breach of the Obscene Publications Act.
By contrast, the BBFC report on Full Sequence stated that the film's content was too extreme for an 18 certificate and was "sexually violent and potentially obscene". The board members felt that the centipede of Full Sequence existed purely as "the object of the protagonist's depraved sexual fantasy". They criticised the film for making "little attempt to portray any of the victims... as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience" and stated their opinion that the film was potentially in breach of the Obscene Publications Act. The BBFC stated that they would not reclassify the film in the future, as "no amount of cuts would allow them to give it a certificate".
Six responded to the BBFC's decision in a statement released the next day to Empire magazine. Six criticised the BBFC for including film spoilers in their report, and stated that the film was "...fictional. Not real. It is all make-belief (sic). It is art..." and that viewers should be able to choose for themselves whether or not they decided to view the film. Six also referred to the BBFC's refusal to classify the film as "exceptional".In October 2011, the BBFC granted the film an 18 certificate after 32 compulsory cuts totalling 2 minutes and 37 seconds were made. The cuts included: [access the full entry here if you want to read the list; graphic terms are used]
SELECTED QUOTES - each highlights an issue
Company was required to make 32 individual cuts to scenes of sexual and sexualised violence, sadistic violence and humiliation, and a child presented in an abusive and violent context. (BBFC Insight entry, NB: goes on to a short graphic description of cuts)
The BBFC decision has startled many, with some even suggesting that in this new Conservative era, censorship has become politically fashionable once more. (David Cox argues it was a political decision - reflecting Julian Petley's argument that the BBFC does government work without the government being held accountable)
How can it be that adults are not allowed to choose whether or not to see a film? It really felt like Britain was behaving like China. This kind of censorship is ridiculous. ... [M]any British people are becoming furious with this organisation, because they feel that it is treating adults as children.
(Director Tom Six questions the right to restrict adult choice)
those who want it will do what everyone did when A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn by its director in this country: order an "import" Region 1 DVD online. (David Cox: is film censorship pointless in the digital age?)
it is unstoppable anyway. In our age of the internet, people will just buy their copies from overseas or download it illegally. The film will be seen in the UK. The BBFC is not of this time. (UK distributor Eureka back Cox's point)
Through their chosen course of action, the BBFC have ensured that the awareness of this film is now greater than it would otherwise have been. (Distributor Eureka say BBFC ban was self-defeating: it actually increased the audience!)Internet threats might have prevented production:
LINKS FOR FURTHER READING
NB: given the extreme nature of the film, some of the articles linked below may feature explicit images; I've tried to highlight any that do so you can opt to avoid these.
BBC: HC3 Most Abhorrent Movie Ever?
BBC: Banned Movies (2011 overview)
BBFC's INITIAL BAN: THEIR EXPLANATION
Guardian – David Cox attacks focus on sexual violence: http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2011/jun/07/human-centipede-sequel-ban-sexual-sadism
BBFC BASED BAN ON LINKING SEX AND VIOLENCE
The board explain that the original film was OK (if "undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting") because its centipede was the product of a "revolting medical experiment", whereas its successor is unacceptable because its own centipede is "the object of the protagonist's depraved sexual fantasy". They add: "There is little attempt to portray any of the victims in the film as anything other than objects to be brutalised, degraded and mutilated for the amusement and arousal of the central character, as well as for the pleasure of the audience."THE BOARD CONSULTED POLICE + GOVERNMENT ON WHETHER THIS BROKE THE OBSCENE PUBLICATIONS ACT
... [it posed] what the board called "a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers".
We're being asked to assume that the avalanche of non-sexual violence that the movies unleash on us is leaving us unscathed, even though most real-world violence seems to be of this kind. Sexual sadism seems to play but a small part in the savagery that surrounds us. Is the big screen really more likely to turn us into kinky torturers than into more straightforward brutes?
BRADSHAW: CENSORSHIP POINTLESS IN ONLINE AGE
Guardian - Peter Bradshaw argues censorship pointless in digital age: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/08/human-centipede-banned?intcmp=239
The BBFC decision has startled many, with some even suggesting that in this new Conservative era, censorship has become politically fashionable once more.THE FILM'S NARRATIVE IS ABOUT MEDIA EFFECTS + COPYCAT; BBFC SAW IT AS BREACHING OBSCENE PUBLICATIONS ACT
This sequel is about someone becoming obsessed with a DVD copy of the original film, recreating a "centipede" like the one shown, and raping the woman at the end in grotesquely sadistic and cruel ways. The BBFC refused to allow it, and maintained that the movie may actually go beyond their purview, being an infringement of the Obscene Publications Act, and liable to cause real "harm" to the public.BANS WON'T WORK WHEN YOU CAN JUST ORDER A R1 DVD OR STREAM IT
Whatever happens, nobody, but nobody, believes that The Human Centipede II will be effectively suppressed. It has been certificated in Australia, and highly likely to pass in the US, so those who want it will do what everyone did when A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn by its director in this country: order an "import" Region 1 DVD online.
When I heard about The Human Centipede II, in all its reported loathsomeness, my thought was: can it really be more shocking than so many of the films I have already seen? Is it more shocking than Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me, in which a woman submits humbly, even joyfully, to being beaten to death by her lover in stomach-turningly explicit detail? Or how about Takashi Miike's Ichi The Killer, with all its psychotic murders and slashings? Or how about Roland Joffé's torture-porn movie Captivity? Or Gaspar Noé's legendary shocker, Irrevérsible, with its unbearable rape scene? Or how about Rob Zombie's nausea-festival The Devil's Rejects?
it has become an open, grown-up, transparent institution, and the common sense on show from its officers make it a very good advertisement for self-regulation. It's certainly superior to the equivalent US body, the Motion Picture Association of America, a highly reactionary, secretive and high-handed institution, which does not discuss its work, which comes down like a ton of bricks on sex but is far more lenient with violence, and always has two clergymen on its own appeals board: one Catholic, one Episcopalian, with no other religions allowed. [See trailer for This Film is Not Yet Rated to get an idea of the secrecy of the MPAA in contrast to the openness of the BBFC since James Ferman stepped down in 1999 as BBFC Director]
Movie writers such as Jonathan Rosenbaum, the former critic of the Chicago Reader argue that in any case the debate about censorship and suppression is wrong-headed: filth-and-the-fury cases concerning controversial movies are a distraction. Big corporate behemoths and multiplex chains ensure that we are fed a diet of pap, and interesting and demanding independent movies are difficult, and nigh-on impossible to see, especially for people who live outside a big capital city. This is the true suppression.RELEASE IT TO AVOID GIFTING PUBLICITY; NOBODY WILL WATCH IT! ... OR GIVE IT AN R18!
I would say to Baxter, Weldon and everyone else on the committee: give The Human Centipede 2 an 18 Certificate, and let adults make up their own minds. Let it vanish into the commercial oblivion that almost certainly awaits.
Or, if the appeals committee can't agree on this, then a second thought occurs: why not give it a Restricted-18 or R-18 certificate, which means that the DVD can be shown only in licensed sex shops and not via mail order?
Anyway, what the BBFC currently doing is stoking the flames of curiosity and making a series of Human Centipede films, a Human Centipede franchise, more likely in the years ahead. And that might indeed be an affont to public decency.
CLASSIFYING IS OK, CENSORSHIP NOT - DISTRIBUTORS SAY IT BOOSTED PUBLIC AWARENESS OF FILM
Bounty and Eureka questioned the wisdom of the BBFC: "Classifying and rating product allows the public to make an informed choice about the art and media they wish to consume. Censoring or preventing the public from obtaining material that has not been proven to be harmful or obscene, is indefensible in principle and is often counterproductive in practice. Through their chosen course of action, the BBFC have ensured that the awareness of this film is now greater than it would otherwise have been." (Shoard, Guardian)
DAILY MAIL BLAMES HC2 RELEASE ON 1996 CRASH DECISION!
Mail – typically frothing, wannabe moral panic stance; attacks BBFC as too liberal: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2246161/Human-Centipede-2-One-repellent-movies-I-seen-says-Christopher-Tookey.html ‘Christopher Tookey describes the British Board of Film Classification's decision to reverse a ban on Human Centipede II as 'the most lily-livered act in its inglorious history'’
Sadly, The Human Centipede II is not an isolated example, and one movie – A Serbian Film – is even more disgusting in its celebration of sexual torture.
The truth is that ever since it let through another exercise in sexual sadism, Crash, in 1996, the BBFC has repeatedly allowed 18 certificates for films that wallow in sexual degradation, rape and torture.
Mostly these were abstruse foreign-language films. More recently, however, a new genre of mainstream, English-language films has sprung up, often called ‘torture porn’, in which Eli Roth and other directors have wallowed in the erotic degradation of both sexes.
Many of these have had ‘Hostel’ or ‘Saw’ in the title, but there are dozens of them, and as a film critic I have had the misfortune to see them all. None of them would have got past the censors before 1996.
If, at long last, the authorities are starting to see sense and realise that films like this do influence people in real life, it’s not before time.
Reason.com (Brendan O’Neill again) – ‘a disgusting act of censorship’; BBFC pretends to be unable to ban films, but they do in effect; their reliance on unproven effects theories is ridiculous – and ironic, as HC2 satirizes just these: http://reason.com/archives/2011/06/24/a-disgusting-act-of-censorship
‘Yet it is highly disingenuous for the BBFC to say it doesn’t ban. Its refusal to classify a film, to deny it even an R18 rating, effectively means a film is blacklisted in Britain. It makes it extremely unlikely that the film will be shown in any cinema and makes it a criminal offence for anyone to supply it on DVD or video. So if I get hold of a copy of The Human Centipede II and distribute it in Britain, I could be imprisoned. If that isn’t censorship, I don’t know what is.The key problem with “media effects” theory is its patronizing view of the public as automatons and attack dogs, who see something and act on it. In arguing that films can invade and mess with our heads, “media effects” theorists call into question the very existence of free will and free choice, depicting our minds as empty vessels waiting to be filled. They overlook the fact that there is something standing in the way of horror films leading to horrific societies—and that is us, reasoned viewers, who know very well the difference between fiction and reality and that kidnapping 12 people and turning them into a human centipede is a pretty rotten thing to do.’
Both films [HC2 and Bunny Game], and other controversial titles including A Serbian Film and Lars von Trier's Antichrist, have been shown to carefully selected focus groups as part of the research.
BBFC director David Cooke said: "What we're doing is getting the public on a fairly in-depth basis to look at some of this difficult material in controlled circumstances so they do have debriefing or counselling available because it's not a very pleasant thing to do".The organisation said the research, which is carried out by Ipsos-MORI, would help "determine what the British public today believes is potentially harmful and therefore unacceptable for classification".The BBFC carried out similar research 10 years ago.The new research will be completed this year and published later.Mr Cooke said the BBFC would also carry out a large public consultation next year, involving between 8,000 to 10,000 people, examining attitudes to on-screen behaviour including bad language.He said some of his "continental colleagues" thought the BBFC attitude to swearing was "crazy" but said research found people were still concerned about it.
‘The BBFC report stated that "much of the public believe that sexual and sadistic violence are legitimate areas for film-makers to explore", but added they were "concerned by certain depictions which may be potentially harmful".It went on: "This concern is particularly acute in relation to young men without much life experience and other vulnerable viewers accessing a diet of sadistic and sexually violent content, which could serve to normalise rape and other forms of violence and offer a distorted view of women."The BBFC said it would consider cutting, or even rejecting, works aimed at adults and containing violence, even if it was legal to show them, but its director David Cooke said there was no "one size fits all rule".He said: "Once again the public have told us that context, tone and impact, and a work's overall message, can aggravate a theme, or make it acceptable, even in cases of sexual and sadistic violence. The decision as to whether and how to intervene in scenes of sexual and sadistic violence is complex, but drawing out and applying these aggravating and mitigating factors is helpful in arriving at a decision which balances freedom of expression against public protection."’
HATE CRIME: THE MOST RECENT FILM OUTRIGHT BANNED BY THE BBFC
Hate Crime is a 2013 USA action horror thriller by James Cullen Bressack.
Starring Jody Barton, Nicholas Clark and Greg Depetro.
- 2015 Horror Show VoD
The BBFC commented:
HATE CRIME focuses on the terrorisation, mutilation, physical and sexual abuse and murder of the members of a Jewish family by the Neo Nazi thugs who invade their home. The physical and sexual abuse and violence are accompanied by constant strong verbal racist abuse. Little context is provided for the violence beyond an on-screen statement at the end of the film that the two attackers who escaped were subsequently apprehended and that the one surviving family member was released from captivity. It is the Board's carefully considered conclusion that the unremitting manner in which HATE CRIME focuses on physical and sexual abuse, aggravated by racist invective, means that to issue a classification to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board's Guidelines, would risk potential harm, and would be unacceptable to broad public opinion. The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, given that the fact that unacceptable content runs throughout the work, cuts are not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.
I am honoured to know that my mind is officially too twisted for the UK. So it goes...I find it unbelievable that a film that shows little to no on screen violence and no nudity was actually banned. it just shows the power of what is implied and peoples imagination; and is a testament to the fact that the same crimes that happen in the world are truly horrifying.