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Monday, 21 October, 2002, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
'Rape film' released uncut
Monica Bellucci
Monica Bellucci stars in the shocking film
A controversial film featuring a nine-minute rape scene has been passed by British censors uncut.

Irreversible, starring Monica Belluci, has caused walkouts at film festivals such as Cannes because of its extreme violence.

But the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has given the uncut movie an 18 certificate, after consulting a psychiatrist.

The film's director Gaspar Noe had said he would rather the film was not shown if any cuts were ordered.


The Board was satisfied, therefore, that no issue of harm arose in the context of a cinema release for adult viewing only

BBFC
The BBFC, which is responsible for awarding film classifications, took the view that the film was "not designed to titillate".

But it said other considerations may have to be made before it could be released for home viewing.

The BBFC has had a reputation for coming down hard on sexually explicit films, but has recently allowed graphic scenes of rape from Straw Dogs to be passed.

Irreversible centres around a sex attack and the results of it, depicting sodomy, rape and murder.

At the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, about 250 people walked out of a screening, with some needing medical treatment to get over the shock of the movie.

Classification guidelines say there should be extra care when scenes eroticise, or appear to endorse, sexual violence.

Adult viewing

The BBFC called the scene "a harrowing and vivid portrayal of the brutality of rape".

Irreversible
Cinema-goers at Cannes had to be treated for shock
But it concluded: "It contains no explicit sexual images and is not designed to titillate".

"The Board was satisfied, therefore, that no issue of harm arose in the context of a cinema release for adult viewing only."

"If, however, Irreversible is submitted for video release, the Board will need to consider any potential for harm that might arise from the rape scene being taken out of context and viewed repeatedly."

Other scenes which were taken into consideration included one where a fire extinguisher is used to kill a man in sex club.

"The Board recognised that elements in the film may be shocking and (for many viewers) unpleasant," the BBFC said in statement.

Severe approach

"These, however, are not by themselves reasons for censoring them for adults. Our concern, and the public's, is principally with content which is likely to promote harmful activity.

But John Beyer of clean-up campaigners Mediawatch-UK is calling on local authorities to use their powers to ban Irreversible from their areas.

"I think this is another film that treats rape as some kind of entertainment and I'm not sure that by classifying films of this sort that it does anything to stop sexual assaults or sexual violence," said Mr Beyer.

"The board really ought to take a far more severe approach towards depicting that sort of sexual violence.

"It's wrong to classify it at all, it's wrong to be showing it in public cinemas where the wrong sort of people will go and see it," he added.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Lawrence Pollard
"The woman is raped and beaten in front of the camera"
British Board of Film Classification's Robin Duval
"We have a very clear view of what the British public will accept"
See also:

26 May 02 | Entertainment
16 Aug 02 | Entertainment
01 Jul 02 | Entertainment
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