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Wednesday, 10 November, 1999, 10:10 GMT
Fight Club bruised by censors
Brad Pitt and Edward Norton star in Fight Club
Hollywood film Fight Club has been cleared for release in the UK - but only after scenes featuring "sustained" violence were cut.

The film, starring Brad Pitt, Ed Norton and UK actress Helena Bonham Carter, has been criticised for its graphic portrayal of illegal bare-knuckle fighting.

The British Board of Film Classification has given the film an 18 rating, after cuts to two scenes in which a man's face was beaten "into a pulp" by Edward Norton's character, who then says: "I wanted to destroy something beautiful."

Norton's character is a disenchanted yuppie who is persuaded by a street philosopher - played by Brad Pitt - that getting involved in bare-knuckle fighting will give his life meaning.

Eventually, a fight club is created full of men who want to reassert their masculinity through violence - which snowballs into a national movement, threatening the capitalist society.

Helena Bonham Carter also stars in the film
BBFC director Robin Duval said the violent content of the film was less than other films which had passed by with less fuss.

He said: "Audiences who expect a large quantity of fist fighting and graphic violence are likely to be disappointed."

But he added: "There are two scenes in which the board judged that the violence was excessively sustained and in conflict with the concern expressed in BBFC guidelines about taking pleasure in pain or sadism.

"In both scenes there was an indulgence in the excitement of beating a defenceless man's face into a pulp. The board required that cuts be made in each case."

The film has caused a storm of protest in the US, with the editor of the respected trade journal, The Hollywood Reporter, calling it "morally repulsive".

Anita M Busch said the film, which was released in the US last month, had "drawn more gut anger from the industry than I've ever heard".

Others feel it could spark copycat violence, while it has also been criticised for purportedly showing how to make explosives and napalm.

But Mr Duval said the "instructional detail" was "unlikely to be harmful to an individual or society".

He added: "The film as a whole is - quite cleartly - sharply parodic of the amateur fascism which in part it portrays.

"Its central theme of male machismo - and the anti-social behaviour that flows from it - is emphatically rejected by the central character in the concluding reels."

The film is due for release in the UK on Friday.

See also:

05 Nov 99 | Tom Brook
Showdown at the Fight Club
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