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Last Updated: Wednesday October 19 2005 17:00 GMT

How Goblet of Fire got its 12A rating

Dragon breathing fire during the first task from Warner Bros. Pictures' "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is the organisation which gives films a rating eg PG, 12A, 15 and so on.

Helen Pang of the BBFC tells us why the Goblet of Fire got its 12A rating.

What did you look for when rating Goblet of Fire?

When Examiners classify any film, video or DVD, we look out for 'issues' such as bad language, violence, horror and drugs.

We're also very strict when it comes to anything dangerous or harmful that could be easily copied by younger viewers, for example, playing with electricity or hiding in washing machines.

Why did you rate it 12A?

The latest Harry Potter film is much darker and scarier than the previous three, which were all classified PG (Parental Guidance, suitable for people aged around 8 or older).
Dan Radcliffe as Harry Potter in a scene from the Warner Bros. Pictures' film, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."

So Examiners decided that the 12A was the most suitable category, as younger or more sensitive viewers could be frightened by some of the more intense scenes (which I can't reveal as you'd get upset with me!).

The ending was a shock too, although maybe if you have read the books, you'll be expecting it anyway.

At 12A, we allow moderate level violence, but without focus on injuries or blood. We also allow scenes of threat and horror, but only if there is little 'gore'.

What does 12A mean?

12A means that we think the film is suitable for people aged 12 and over. If an adult thinks that someone under 12 is mature enough to see a 12A film, then he or she must be accompanied throughout the film by an adult.

The Consumer Advice for this film is: Contains moderate fantasy violence, threat and horror. It's important to know what the film contains, before you go and see the film.

Were there any scenes cut in order to give it a 12A rating?

As with the other three Harry Potter films, no cuts were needed to give Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the 12A rating.

We actually rarely make cuts to films. What we normally do is recommend a higher category, as cuts can sometimes ruin the continuity of a film. In this case, we gave the film a 12A.

How many times did you have to watch it?

MICHAEL GAMBON as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore with students in a scene from Warner Bros. Pictures' film "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
Sometimes with big film releases like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, the distributor (the company who owns the film and/or has the right to show it in cinemas and sell the video/DVD version in shops) will ask the BBFC for an 'advice viewing'.

The film might not even be complete at this stage, so for example, the computer generated effects will not have been added. A Senior Examiner sat through an 'advice viewing for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and recommended 12A, based on what she saw.

When the film was completed two months later, it was seen again by a team of two Examiners. And because it is such a big film, our Director saw it too, to confirm the category.

Were there any disagreements over the rating? What happens in this circumstance?

There were no arguments over the classification of this film, as the issues of violence, threat and horror were quite clear for all the Examiners who watched it, as well as our Director.

This isn't always the case though, as Examiners do sometimes disagree with each other and our weekly meetings can get quite noisy as a result!

If Examiners disagree, then the film is seen by another team, who will hopefully decide on the category. Sometimes the entire group of 23 Examiners will watch a controversial scene, or even the entire film, if necessary.

It may then go all the way up to the Director, the President and the two Vice-Presidents, who will make the final decision.

How did rating the 4th Harry Potter film compare to rating 1, 2 and 3?

You can really spot the differences in the four films. The first one, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was classified back in October 2001 and Harry and his friends were so sweet and innocent then!

As the characters have become teenagers and are more experienced in magic, the tone of the films has become darker, the moments of intensity more frequent and there are far fewer jokes and lighter moments.

The result is that this is the first Harry Potter film at 12A. Be prepared for a very different film to the first three!

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