Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Censorship and the Centipede [The Unseen Sequence]?

Protected but not from the censors
The BBFC have officially refused a classification for Tom Six’s second installment of his extreme surgery horror trilogy The Human Centipede [Full Sequence] effectively banning the film from the UK shores.  THC2 joins a short list of films that the censors would say No amount of editing would be good enough to obtain a certificate as it’s finally been revealed that the new doctor is one who’s sexual excitement is directly linked to the process of ass to mouth operations and the resulting centipede, fans of Koji Shiraishi's Grotesque will know what that leads to.  I’ve never been a fan of censorship in film, I feel that it lessens the mediums status as an artform and (am prepared for any backlash when I say) is cinematic equivalent to burning books.  As concenting adults we can vote for political parties that change the landscape of our country, marry, have children, consume any number of legal chemicals to the detriment of our bodies and our health service but we can’t decide to watch a simple piece of fiction…or can we?

Hobo with a web stream
It used to be the case that the BBFC’s word was law however the 21st century has skipped several steps ahead of the law makers and with the dominance of the internet and downloading and streaming (illegal or otherwise) the world is at your finger tips and much of it far worse and disturbing than anything that a film maker can portray in fiction, some of it is even real.  The screening I attended of Hobo with a Shotgun was a Northern Ireland premier as part of the Belfast Film Festival however had I wanted to I could have stayed at home and streamed the movie for $9.99 from Amazon.  During the recent outrage about festival screenings of A Serbian Film one unwitting English Councillor accidentally admitted to illegally downloading a copy of the film in order to watch it as "research" for the debate, the same copy that the BBFC demanded the film makers cut 4 minutes from making what he watched really really illegal.  So will the banning of The Human Centipede [Full Sequence] mean the end of Tom Six’s trilogy?  It’s difficult to make a film on that sort of budget if nobody’s allowed to see it.

Probably not is the answer.  Some people will download the film illegally from hosts in countries which certified the film, others will import the DVD from those countries and some will use the streaming facility that premium rate film websites supply and the people who had every intention of watching it in the first place will watch it.  The BBFC won’t make a difference.  Only the people who have issue with the film and zero intention of watching will be affected, the moral superiority reinforced for another while.  What will happen is that independent cinemas, the types who survive on films with the sort of publicity that THC2 will garnish, will lose out on the business (including sadly our very own Movie Bar) and the money will go to everyone and everywhere other than the UK economy.  DVD sales have been enough, in the past, to make a considerable difference on the success and survival of film and television.  Fox brought back Family Guy on the back of it’s phenomenal popularity on DVD likewise the re-emergence of many of our childhood favourite TV shows and films are based on the back that DVD is the biggest of big business.  There will be a third Centipede, the BBFC will most likely ban that too and the audience who want to watch it (and I count myself in that group of people) will find a way.  The independent cinemas will be unable to show it and too afraid to show films like A Serbian Film incase they end up like Angel Sala or some big head in a local authority takes exception to them and decides to lead a moral crusade against them for the sake of their ego and all the while film as an art form will be weakened and the economic profit from these films will simply go elsewhere.  Historically the censors have banned The Battleship Potemkin and The Wild Ones both of them are available with the cerificate of PG and of recent it has banned two other films…both of which I’ve seen posing the question what’s the point of it all when the BBFC is so clearly toothless?


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