Tamara Drewe Subject Of Utterly Ridiculous Censorship

You may recall that The Expendables has been censored for cinema release in the UK. In that case, one little cut was made to lower the film’s rating from 18-and-over-only to 15-and-over-only.

Today, I see that Tamara Drewe has been subject to a similar snip – but with a head-scratcher of a twist.

Both films were submitted in uncut forms to the BBFC. Then, with both films, the distributors decided to make alterations after hearing the BBFC’s decision. In the case of The Expendables, the cut lowered the film’s certification and therefore broadened the film’s potential audience notably. In the case of Tamara Drewe… the classification remains the same now as before the cuts, but still the distributor has willingly entered into the alteration. Why? This is where things get really odd.

I’m going to quote the BBFC outright:

Tamara Drewe was originally classified ’15′ on 9 July 2010 with the consumer advice ‘Contains very strong language, strong sex and sex references’. Subsequent to this to company submitted a revised version with minor changes in two scenes. In one case, some explanatory captions had been removed and in the other case, a single use of very strong language had been removed. This amended version was classified ’15′ on 28 July with the revised consumer advice ‘Contains strong language, sex and sex references’.

So Momentum would appear to have taken the scissors to Stephen Frears’ film so that a tiny, “small print” phrase on the poster would be altered. What’s the thinking? That the new advice would be more acceptable to people who draw the line somewhere beyond “strong language” but before “very strong language”?

Note: the poster we ran the other day didn’t carry the BBFC advice and showed a certificate of 15 TBC.

There’s always the possibility that Frears himself was self-motivated to re-edit his film on a whim, some months after its premiere and after it’s wide release in France, and then Momentum were obliged to re-submit the new version. There’s also a possibility that the sun won’t come up tomorrow and I’ll have a deep-fried boomerang for breakfast.

Here’s Frears on the subject of using the word “c*nt” in this film, from The Hollywood Reporter:

You’re allowed two. I would have liked three. If you only have two you get a “15″ certificate for a comedy from the British Board of Film Classification. If you have three, you get the next one up, an “18.” We had to decide which one of the three to remove and when I saw the cut with one taken out I didn’t notice it had gone. Which perhaps speaks to it not being necessary. As to whether or not it emboldens a script, I don’t think it makes a blind bit of difference. It’s not a word I feel necessitates debate.

It doesn’t really matter who did it, anyway – the fact is, a film has been censored to get the word “strong” removed from its poster. Can we start a letter writing campaign? I would normally implore you to write gracious, courteous letters of complain but Momentum have already made it clear what language they consider fair. I’d stay away from c*nt and m*therf*cker but all of the other “classics” should be perfectly acceptable.

Here are their contact details:

Momentum Pictures

Theatrical Distribution

20 Soho Square

London

W1D 3QW

Telephone 020 7534 0400

Fax 020 7534 0404

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