There are certainly arguments to be made that film censorship can be a good thing, and as the British Board of Film Classification enjoys its centennial anniversary today, the debate is as fresh and potent as ever. Protecting children from harm and so on is of course a valued public service, though many – such as myself – will argue that the prohibition and outright censorship too often goes too far; a statutorily-decreed body should not be telling grown adults what they can and cannot watch, unless of course said material breaks the law (for instance, child pornography). If an absurdly violent gorefest offends the somewhat middling sensibilities of the people who on that day are making the judgement, their reaction should not be an outright ban, but simply to slam it with an 18 certificate.
Though not every instance of grossly overt censorship in this list comes from the BBFC, the one common element is that they’re overtly reactionary decisions, sometimes spurred on by a misplaced sense of moral outrage, and sometimes at the whim of a studio that wants to maximise its profits.
Here are 10 ridiculous cases of movie censorship.
10. Die Hard With A Vengeance Butchered For Home Video
It isn’t uncommon for movie studios to make questionable edits to their movies in order to secure a lower rating, which in turn of course guarantees them more profits, as the product is open to a wider audience. Still, given that Die Hard has always been keen to focus itself on pretty graphic violence and a foul mouthed protagonist, it seems pretty ridiculous that such desperate measures were taken to ensure that the third film was given a 15 rather than an 18 certificate. Perhaps more ridiculous than the edits themselves was the qualification standards of the BBFC at the time; nowadays, a film can be rife with foul language and violence and easily still attain a 15, and it generally requires sadistic gore and drug use to push it up to an 18.
To be fair to Buena Vista, their dubbing and editing on this cut is a lot more professional than many similar hatchet-jobs you’ll see out there, but it still thoroughly dilutes the original product.
This article was first posted on January 1, 2013