The Notorious Bettie Page is a smart, funny and engaging look at the life of one of the first pin-up sensations, the titular Ms Page. Well acted and flawlessly directed (Harron creates a perfect 50's woman's film feel and mixes black
and white and colour without drawing attention to it), the film tells it's story in a matter of fact way that mirrors Page's own outlook and delivers an interesting study of a society on the brink of change.
The Notorious Bettie Page has a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) rating of '18?. Considering that the 1950's pin ups (and the various 'health magazines that they appeared in) do not even come close to the contents of the tamest lads mag
or even the average music video. The use of notorious in the title is somewhat ironic as it is a label that is projected onto Page rather than a comment on who she is and, accordingly, the film is rather tame when it comes to sex. Yes, there is nudity
but Harron manages to normalise it by giving Betty control and keeping everything in context – this is the polar opposite of the way Megan Fox is filmed/leered at in Michael Bay's 12A rated Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009).
The Notorious Bettie Page (2005) is a smart, funny and engaging look at the life of one of the first pin-up sensations, the titular Ms Page. Well acted and flawlessly directed (Harron creates a perfect 50's woman's film feel and
mixes black and white and colour without drawing attention to it), the film tells it's story in a matter of fact way that mirrors Page's own outlook and delivers an interesting study of a society on the brink of change.
Some time ago I wrote about Mary Harron's fantastic film The Notorious Bettie Page … well, to be honest, I spent most of the time having a moan about the rather harsh 18 cert. bestowed upon the film by the BBFC. Anyway, in true disgusted
of Tunbridge Wells style I emailed the BBFC the following…
Having recently viewed The Notorious Bettie Page (Mary Harron, 2005) I was somewhat perplexed by the 18 rating. Looking on the BBFC website the only comment I can see regarding the rating is contains sexual fetish
Considering that the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) have given the film a 15 rating ('15A in cinemas) due to moderate violence, sex/nudity and language (The further information on their website notes
just one expletive and their guidelines for the 15A rating state that mild/moderate sexual activity/nudity is acceptable, particularly when portrayed positively .) I was wondering if you had any more information on the
decision and the reasoning behind the 18 rating?
…and here is the BBFC reply…
Our classification decisions are carefully considered and made in line with published Guidelines and the available research evidence...
Our Guidelines for sex at 15 state that: "Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour". It was recognised that THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE
is an intelligent and rather sweet-natured film which stays within our '15' criteria on a number of issues (eg. nudity and sex). However, it was ultimately judged that placing a work that dealt with S&M and other fetish activities at '15'
would confound public expectations of the our classifications. Although THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE is not a 'sex work' , its detail of fetish activity just pushed this work to the 18 category. At '18' our
Guidelines state that the BBFC "will not normally override the wish that adults should be free to chose their own entertainment, within the law."
Chief Assistant (Policy)
…which seems to suggest that no matter what the 'content' the subject matter is all that matters and some things, especially country matters , are just plain taboo.