The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is marking its 100th year in 2012 by resurrecting its historical Theatrical Black Cards. Beginning in January cinema-goers across the UK will see updated versions of the vintage Black Cards ahead of
all 2012 theatrical releases. The six retro designs based on those used in 1913, the 1940s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and the present day will be released as a series with each design appearing for two months at a time.
The first retro card to be show in cinema's in 2012 will be based on the 1912 theatrical card, first shown in 1913.
Other activities taking place to mark the BBFC Centenary year include a film season at the BFI; an exhibition about the history of the BBFC; and a Centenary book mapping 100 years of film classification and controversy.
David Cooke Director of the BBFC says: The BBFC's Centenary is a chance for us both to look forward and to celebrate our past. We are constantly striving to develop new services; provide the public with fuller, richer information; and to
improve our efficiency. At the same time, we recognise our duty to explain our history, and we do a lot of this, particularly with schools and teachers. The retro Black Cards are a way of celebrating our history. I think they're pretty stylish
Established as the British Board of Film Censors in 1912, the BBFC was designed by the film industry to ensure uniformity in film classification and was a reaction to the 1909 Cinematographers Act whereby all Local Authorities had the power to
provide or withhold licenses for cinemas in their area.
Areas of notable interest in the Board's history include T.P. O'Connor's 1916 list of 43 grounds for deletion, intended as a guide for Examiners; the shifts in public opinion and changes in the law over the decades; and the classification of
various controversial films from Straw Dogs and A Clockwork Orange to the video nasties of the 1980s.
Today the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is an independent, private, not for profit company which classifies films, videos, DVDs and certain video games, advertisements and trailers under the Video Recordings Act (1984).
British fans will be able to see Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom just as its director Steven Spielberg wanted, almost three decades after its release.
The film 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 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. And the option for a 12 certificate wasn't
available at the time. 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 showing of The Devil s, directed by Ken Russell who died last month. But it seems that a hundred years of film censorship is not sufficiently important to persuade Warners to allow a screening of their uncut
The season of censored films also includes 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.
Kira Cochrane of the Guardian has a worthwhile luncheon interview with the BBFC.
It was interesting to hear of an examiners training video that maybe prepares new employees for the worst:
David Austin, head of policy, says an image from some Thai boxing footage the board uses in training has stayed with him. The bone in this man's leg completely shatters into hundreds of pieces, he says, and you see him try to walk, and
his leg just completely collapses.
Another example that upset examiners was documentary footage of a man facing a firing squad. Half his face was blown away, but he remained alive, gasping for air. This scene was included in Terrorists, Killers & Other Wackos, a compilation
of material too strong for news programmes, set to a hard rock soundtrack. It was probably calculated to be viewed by young blokes when they were just about to go to the pub, says Cooke, and the board refused to classify it, making it
illegal to supply the film.
The extensive explanation of the board's ruling includes the comment that the footage has the potential to desensitise viewers, and perhaps even to incite some to harm others . But that same scene was allowed on another video -- a serious
documentary about capital punishment, which the board passed at 18, uncut. That just shows how the same image can be legitimate or not, depending on the context, says Austin.