The Happening

Suicide sensitivities over the film The Happening

14th June

Credibility Suicide...

Australian psychologists whinge at MA rating for The Happening

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has expressed grave concerns over the classification MA given to the soon to be released movie, The Happening.

APS President, Amanda Gordon, said:

This movie, with its graphic and repeated depictions of violent suicides should receive an R classification instead of the MA rating. We call on the Classification Board to urgently review this rating.

Not only does this movie romanticise and sensationalise suicide, but it depicts many different methods of achieving that end. There is good evidence that the reporting of suicides can lead to copycat behavior, and there are many instances of increased suicide rates following media portrayals of suicide. The more detailed the descriptions or portrayals of the suicide, the greater the risk that vulnerable people, including young people or people with mental health problems, may harm themselves.

Psychologists have grave concerns that we will see a real increase in both suicide attempts and successful suicides, as a result of people viewing this movie. The most vulnerable, including young people, will be protected by a higher rating by the Classification Board

We have media guidelines for the reporting of suicide, and classification systems for films for very good reasons. What better reason is there than the protection of vulnerable people in our society?

In the UK, the BBFC passed the film 15 with the following explanation:

THE HAPPENING is a thriller about a couple and a young girl trying to escape a mysterious toxin causing people to commit suicide and murder. The work was passed '15' for frequent images of suicide and moderate bloody injury.

Besides references to terrorism, and a sustained menace from an unseen and uncontrollable threat, the film also features a series of suicides by different methods, including a policeman shooting himself with sight of blood trickling from a bullet wound in his head, sight of another man lying in a pool of blood having shot himself off-screen, a jump moment where several bodies are seen hanging from trees, a scene where a man slits his wrist at a small distance and another scene where two young teenage boys are shot. In each case sight of blood and injury is fairly brief. However the treatment of the suicide theme and the frequency and nature of the injury detail went beyond the bounds of a '12A', but met the BBFC's '15' Guidelines which allow 'strong threat and menace', and state that 'no theme is prohibited, provided that treatment is appropriate for 15 year olds', 'violence may be strong but not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury' and 'dangerous techniques (e.g. combat, hanging, suicide, and self-harming) should not dwell on imitable detail'.

The work also contains moderate language including uses of 'bitch'.


25th June

Comment: What's Happening?...

Has The Happening been pre-cut?

Whilst there seems to be a split in opinions over M. Night Shyamalan's new film The Happening, I think we can all agree that certain scenes seem rather weirdly edited and somewhat cut short.

The BBFC website states that this work was passed with no cuts made however scenes differ from those shown in the trailer (cutting away earlier from the lady with the knitting needle) and some people on forums (such as IMDB etc) are comparing notes and reporting differences elsewhere - in fact it seems that the UK is the only territory where the film is cut in this way.

Now since there is no mention of cuts on the BBFC database it is therefore assumed that 20th Century Fox submitted a shortened version - was this in fear of the BBFC's stance on 'Imitable Techniques' ("the Board's concerns in this area include combat techniques, hanging, suicide and self-harm")? Was it a simple mistake? Are we merely being pre-sold an 'uncut' DVD version?

Like Mark Wahlberg's character says we will come up with some reason to put in the books, but in the end it'll be just a theory. I mean, we will fail to acknowledge that there are forces at work beyond our understanding


26th June

Comment: Happening in Germany...

The Happening cuts happen to be the same as in Germany

I found that post you had about cuts to the UK version of The Happening very interesting.

First of all, though, I can tell you that the UK version is definitely not the only one that has been cut.

M. Night Shyamalan has stated in an interview with a German news magazine that the German version has been cut losing shots of:

  • the needle piercing the throat during the suicide at the beginning
  • a man having his arm bitten off by lions
  • a man dying under a lawnmower

Some of these shots do turn up in the Red Band trailer and I strongly suspect that these aren't the only shots that were cut, due to the erratic editing other viewers already mentioned.

I wasn't worried about hearing this, though, as I normally watch the original versions of films, which not only gives me the film as it is supposed to be but also bypasses any German censorship-cuts, in cases like Iron Man and The Hulk (both of which were cut for a lower rating).

You can probably imagine that I was a bit pissed off when I realised that the English-language version of The Happening I was watching was missing the same shots that I knew had been edited out of the German version.

This suggests that this may indeed not be a matter of national censorship but that 20th Century Fox might well have created a Euro-cut and is hoping to cash in on an Unrated Director's Cut DVD later on.

I might feel less annoyed if the film had been better.


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