A few months ago I heard of a film so graphic and repulsive that the British Board of Film Classification, the body which issues film ratings, had rejected it for classification. That meant that the film could not be distributed in the United Kingdom at all, due to its obscene nature.
The film, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), is a horror movie in which the protagonist becomes obsessed with the previous film and wants to recreate a human centipede for his own sexual pleasure. David Cooke, Director of the BBFC said the following:
“It is the Board’s carefully considered view that to issue a certificate to this work, even if confined to adults, would be inconsistent with the Board’s Guidelines, would risk potential harm within the terms of the VRA, and would be unacceptable to the public. The Board also seeks to avoid classifying material that may be in breach of the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964 (OPA) or any other relevant legislation. The OPA prohibits the publication of works that have a tendency to deprave or corrupt a significant proportion of those likely to see them… The Board considered whether its concerns could be dealt with through cuts. However, given that the unacceptable content runs throughout the work, cuts are not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.”
The full article gives the reasoning, but I must warn you before reading it that it contains very graphic descriptions of images intended to shock. If you still wish to continue, it can be found here.
The director was appalled and when asked by Empire Magazine for a response, he said the following:
Thank you BBFC for putting spoilers of my movie on your website and thank you for banning my film in this exceptional way. Apparently I made an horrific horror-film, but shouldn’t a good horror film be horrific? My dear people it is a f****cking MOVIE. It is all fictional. Not real. It is all make-belief. It is art. Give people their own choice to watch it or not. If people can’t handle or like my movies they just don’t watch them. If people like my movies they have to be able to see it any time, anywhere also in the UK.
This highlights exactly the dilemma we face. Given that this film has been made, in Britain as it happens, should people have the right to see it or not? It is undoubtedly obscene and grotesque, as some American critics commented that those scenes mentioned by the BBFC were not the most horrific, and reading one entry on Wikipedia, I can agree with that.
One of the main problems with banning films like this is that they become all the more popular. America has allowed it to be shown, admittedly with cuts made, and used the fact the film was banned here in its publicity. Australia are showing it without any edits, where of course pirate copies are being made. Seeing as the BBFC are powerless to prevent illegal downloads, there will be some who now want to see it because it’s been banned.
What really annoys me however is that the BBFC have reversed their decision. After cutting two minutes and thirty seven seconds worth of footage, including all the scenes mentioned in their previous statement, the film has now been awarded an 18 certificate. One member of the board disagreed with this decision but was powerless to prevent it going through, so abstained in protest.
I really have no idea what to do about this sort of film. On the one hand I don’t understand why these sorts of films are made and wish that the world was a better place where these atrocities would have no audience. At the same time however the freedom to express yourself in art is important and state controlled film production would be horrible.
Stories like this always disappoint me. It would be so much easier and nicer if I could go back to my life in ignorance of horrible things like this. The sad truth is that this is not alone; there are many more films like this, some even worse. The movie “A Serbian Film” received an 18 classification without any difficulties, but is being investigated in its native country for illegal treatment of minors.
What is more harrowing is that the audience exists and these films will be seen. Even some critics have liked these films, as they can see potential meaning below the shocks, though whether it was ever there is an unanswerable question. The market exists and they will continue making these films. The director of The Human Centipede films was asked about the third in his intended trilogy to which he replied that it will “make the last one look like a Disney film. It’s going to upset a lot of people.”
I am at a complete loss at what to do. All I can do is not watch these films and pray that demand decreases. If you have any practical suggestions of how to protest against these monstrosities or have any views to share, please leave a comment below.