August 4, 2008

Record Complaints for Batman Film Over Rating

By Amol Rajan

VIOLENT SCENES in the latest Batman movie have prompted a record number of objections about its 12A certification.

In The Dark Knight's first week of release, which coincides with the school holidays, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) received 70 complaints. The film's bloody content has surprised some cinema-goers with its gritty realism, compared to previous Batman films' cartoon style.

The late Heath Ledger, playing Batman's wicked adversary The Joker, regularly describes his pleasure in killing people with a knife because it takes longer for them to die. At one point he rams a pencil into a man's eye. The movie's last half-hour features graphic burns injuries.

The 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale, also classified 12A, received 110 complaints, but that was in total - not in a single week.

The Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said he had seen the film on Friday and subsequently planned to force the BBFC to attend his committee's hearings on knife crime in October.

"The BBFC should realise there are scenes of gratuitous violence in The Dark Knight to which I would certainly not take my 11-year- old daughter", said Mr Vaz. "It should be a 15 classification."

The BBFC admitted that The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan and with Christian Bale as Batman, was "borderline 15" - meaning its examiners came very close to certifying as a 15. The 12A rating means that children as young as 12 can watch a film unaccompanied, while parents can take children younger than 12 with them to the film.

Mounting criticism of the BBFC has centred on the pressure it comes under to lower ratings to boost audiences. The body has confirmed that Warner Bros asked for The Dark Knight to be classified as 12A, and that the BBFC "comes under pressure to keep classifications low".

(c) 2008 Independent, The; London (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.