American Films of the 2000s to 2020s

2000s to 2020s American movies that have been cut in Australia.


The Brown Bunny

Directed by Vincent Gallo / 2003 / USA / IMDb

In July 2005, Sony Pictures Releasing received an R18+ (Sexual activity, High level themes) for a 93-minute DVD (for 35mm) of THE BROWN BUNNY.

A DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment received the same rating in September.

The Brown Bunny (2003) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Sony

The 89:21 (PAL) disc appeared in December.

Michael Atkinson says no

In 2006, Dennis Hood (Family First) campaigned to raise the rating of THE BROWN BUNNY to X18+. He objected to the scene at 78:30 where Daisy (Chloë Sevigny) performs real oral sex on Bud (Vincent Gallo). An X18+ would effectively ban it for sale/hire within his home state. It previously happened to Michael Winterbottom’s 9 SONGS (2004) in August 2005 following a South Australian Classification Council review.

The South Australian Attorney-General refused to make the case for an appeal to the Classification Review Board. Best known for holding up the introduction of an R18+ for games, Michael Atkinson (Labor) also helped Christian groups push rating reviews. Appeals against IRREVERSIBLE (2002), ANATOMY OF HELL (2004) and MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2004) followed. His decision with THE BROWN BUNNY was perhaps influenced by them all retaining their R18+ ratings.

May 4, 2006
Family First MLC Dennis Hood said the view of fellatio involving a fully erect penis “was pornographic”.

“If that’s not pornography, then what is? Any depiction of actual sex is clearly X-rated,” Mr Hood said.

SA is the only Australian state with the power to ban movies within its borders. However, Mr Hood does not want to go that far.

He called on the Attorney-General Michael Atkinson to order a review of the film’s classification status.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Katie Hull, said the movie had “done quite well as a rental title”.

“The R-rating is almost mainstream now,” Ms Hull said.

“We had no problems with distributing it.”

“There is a very good case for reclassification,” Mr Hood said.

Young Media Australia president Elizabeth Handsley said R-rated movies should be separated from general-release titles in rental stores.

Mr Atkinson yesterday said it was too late to reclassify THE BROWN BUNNY.

“This film was released in 2003 and was classified by the Classification Board last year and it is now not possible for its classification to be reviewed by the Classification Review Board,” Mr Atkinson said.

– Sex movie should be X-rated
adelaidenow.com.au

In 2009, Dennis Hood granted Elizabeth Handsley’s wish by making it South Australian law to separate R-rated films in stores.


Birth

Directed by Jonathan Glazer / 2004 / USA / IMDb

In September 2004, a 100-minute 35mm print of BIRTH received an MA15+ (Adult themes, Medium level sex scene).

Roadshow Films was the applicant.

Rating challenge

The Australian Family Association (AFA) received a $3,470 fee waiver to take ANATOMY OF HELL (2004) to the Classification Review Board in June 2004. Des Clark, Director of the OFLC, denied them similar treatment for BIRTH in February 2005. A ‘Fee Waiver Refused S91’ was noted.

Following the decision, the AFA withdrew their application rather than pay for a review. It echoed their attempted appeal against the DVD release of IRREVERSIBLE (2002) in July 2004. They quoted Des Clark as saying, ‘…the Australian Family Association, and the public represented by this group, have already received the benefit of a fee waiver this financial year [ANATOMY OF HELL] on a previous occasion’.

The AFA’s reason to appeal was the scene where Anna (Nicole Kidman) shares a bath with a ten-year-old Sean (Cameron Bright).

Friends in high places

The Christian scare campaign against BIRTH saw like-minded politicians take up the case.

February 28, 2005
The Hon. R.D. LAWSON: There are a number of reservations—sometimes, serious reservations— expressed about the current system. In fact, some of the recent decisions in relation to the classification of movies by the Classification Review Board have been described as outrageous by the Festival of Light. Those decisions include the R rating for the film NINE SONGS and the MA rating for the film BIRTH.

It is not surprising that from time to time the South Australian Attorney-General [Michael Atkinson] expresses his disagreement with classification matters. However, he rarely appears to exercise the power which he has to seek a review of classifications. Mrs Ros Phillips, the research officer for the Festival of Light, has indicated to me her dismay at the 2003 rewrite of the classification guidelines for films and computer games. In her view, recent classification decisions have shifted in a more permissive direction despite a written assurance from the Office of Film and Literature Classification to the effect that classification standards would remain unchanged after those new guidelines came into operation

Notwithstanding the reservations that Mrs Phillips and others have expressed, we believe that the current system, with all its imperfections, is working satisfactorily. The fact that some ministers choose to express reservations about particular decisions of the classification board, but then refuse to take the steps open to them to have those reviewed, is really a comment on the commitment of a particular minister rather than an adverse comment on the system itself.

– Robert Lawson (Liberal), SA Legislative Council

March 9, 2005
Hon. KR LINGARD (Beaudesert—NPA) (4.59 pm): Another concern that the opposition has with these defences relates to the Commonwealth-state classification system for films, computer games et cetera. Generally this system seems to have been working at a standard that has general community acceptance. However, every so often something seems to slip through the system that arguably does not reflect reasonable community values. One recent example of concern is the film BIRTH, which is alleged to contain certain depictions of an actress in a potentially sexually compromising situation with a 10-year-old boy.

Under the classification system that operates, there is a mechanism to have the initial classification reviewed at the request of the relevant minister. The Leader of the Opposition says that he hoped Minister Keech would react favourably to the requests that he has passed on to have the classification of this film reviewed in order to ensure that material that potentially involves the sexual exploitation of children does not seep through the system, thus lowering acceptable community standards. However, from letters he has seen that the minister has sent to citizens who have written to her, it seems that the minister is adopting the common standard of ministers in this area and refusing to utilise the review mechanism that the Commonwealth state classification system has built into it.

The Leader of the Opposition asks why the minister is allowing what is arguably sexual child exploitation material to be displayed in this film. Does she think that suggestions of sexual relations in films between adult females and young males represent acceptable community standards? Why is the minister refusing to utilise the relevant appeal mechanism to have the initial classification reviewed? Is this another example of a hands-off approach by a minister of the government?

– Kevin Lingard (National), QLD Legislative Assembly
Birth (2004) - Australian one sheet poster 1
One sheet via moviemem

BIRTH opened theatrically in Australia on 28 April.

May 3, 2005
The Hon. A.L. EVANS: I would like to ask a real question, as you requested, Mr President. I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Industry and Trade, representing the Attorney-General, a question about film classification.

Leave granted.

The Hon. A.L. EVANS: Recently the film BIRTH opened in Adelaide cinemas. The movie is rated MA15+. The movie, BIRTH, stars Nicole Kidman playing the role of a woman who becomes convinced that a 10-year-old boy is the reincarnation of her dead husband. The movie includes a scene showing the naked actress in a bath with a 10-year-old boy who has an erotic obsession with her, and who has previously discussed having sex with her. Channel 9’s film reviewer, Kerry Bashford, said:

‘A young boy seeks out a man’s ex-wife and begins to have something of a romance with her. This is what has everyone talking, not to mention the nude scene in which Nicole Kidman shares a bath with the young boy who makes no secret of his admiration of her naked form.’

In the light of growing reports of paedophilia in the community, including the case last year of a Melbourne school teacher who had a sexual relationship with a 15-yearold student, and a former Adelaide teacher who had unlawful sexual intercourse with two of his 17-year-old students, my questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Is he aware that the Commonwealth Film Classification guidelines state that ‘Depictions of child sexual abuse or exploitative or offensive depictions involving a person who is or looks like a child under 16 will be refused classification’?

2. Is he aware that the MA15+ classification allows children of any age to see a film in this category as long as they are accompanied by their parent or adult guardian?

3. Is he aware that adult paedophiles might use BIRTH to groom children to consider child—adult sex as thinkable?

4. Will he refer BIRTH to the South Australian Classification Council for review of its apparent inappropriate MA15+ classification? If not, why not?

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Industry and Trade): I will refer that question to the Attorney-General for his consideration and bring back a reply.

– Andrew Evans (Family First), SA Legislative Council

May 24, 2005
Mrs LIZ CUNNINGHAM (Gladstone—Ind) (3.59 pm): A number of constituents — and I add my support to their comments — have commended the Queensland government on changes that have been made and additional protection that has been given to children through the government’s various pieces of legislation in terms of the child safety department and Criminal Code changes. However, some of the recent decisions by the Classification Board have been contradictory and have undermined the hard work that has been done by the Queensland government in that regard. One person who contacted my office stated —

‘The OFLC has given an MA rating to the new Nicole Kidman film BIRTH. This film concerns a widow, and a 10 year old boy who claims to be the reincarnation of her late husband. At one point, the film portrays the two in a bath together, naked, and while there they share a kiss … One can imagine the delight of every paedophile at this portrayal of child pornography. About this scene, one reviewer said’

— and these are people used to seeing movies of all classifications —

‘What is shown on-screen is a bold and clear representation of the double standard held between the sexes in Hollywood. Women are seldom thought of as paedophiles or molesters. It’s generally not in the nature of a female human being. Imagine Robert De Niro sitting naked in a bathtub. Dakota Fanning walks in, looks at him …and then strips …to crawl into the tub with him’

‘The message is clear: sexual relationships between adults and 10 year olds, as long as consent is there, is OK. The film has received mixed reviews, but as the star is seen as an acceptable role model for our young people, it is likely to have wide viewing.’

— The film was given an MA tag. This writer and others have said that it should have received a much higher classification. The letter continues —

‘… it will be seen by children, and eventually it will be available for home use on video. Our impressionable youth will therefore be thinking that this is acceptable: paedophiles and child-porn producers will be thinking up more ways to get child pornography accepted.’

Again, the writer and others commended the Labor government on its strengthening of protection for children but see these sorts of classifications by the Office of Film and Literature Classification as undermining the very strong moves that the government has made in an attempt to protect our children. The guidelines for the classification of films and computer games state that a film should be refused classification if it includes depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive depictions involving a person who is or looks like a child under 16. It is the contention of this and other writers that the film BIRTH gives that intention. I believe that people have written to the minister with those concerns.

– Elizabeth Cunningham (Independent), QLD Legislative Assembly

June 28, 2005
In reply to Hon. A.L. EVANS (3 May).

The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY: The Attorney-General has provided the following information:

1. Yes, the Attorney-General is aware of the contents of the guidelines.

2. Yes. The rating MA15+ means that a film can be screened or hired to (a) anyone aged 15 or over, or (b) a child under 15 who is accompanied by his or her parent or adult guardian.

3. The Attorney-General is aware that paederasts use what are called grooming’ practices to accustom their victims to the idea of sexual activity between adults and children. It is true that a paederast who is the parent or guardian of a child under 15 could take that child to see this film. Indeed, such a person could expose his or her child to a wide range of offensive material and would probably not be stopped by the classification attached to it. If the parent or guardian is a paederast, then the child is at grave risk of harm irrespective of whether the child sees the film BIRTH.

4. The Attorney-General [Michael Atkinson] has decided not to refer this film to the South Australian Classification Council. This is because, in general, it is desirable that classifications should be uniform across Australia. We take part in a national system. Classification Board members are chosen to represent the Australian public and to apply the public’s standards of decency. In this case, evidently, the Board judges that the content of this film would not offend a reasonable adult. Those judgments are for the Board to make. It is open to persons aggrieved to apply for a review of the Board’s decision, but, so far as I am aware, this has not occurred.

– Paul Holloway (Labor), SA Legislative Council

DVD release

On 30 June 2005, a DVD of BIRTH received an MA15+ (Adult themes, Strong sex scene).

Birth (2004) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Roadshow

Roadshow Entertainment issued the disc in August.

SA challenge

The South Australian Classification Council (SACC) received one complaint calling for BIRTH to be banned. Their decision was to leave the rating and consumer advice unchanged.

Around the same time, pressure from Christian groups saw both MYSTERIOUS SKIN (2004) and 9 SONGS (2004) reexamined by the SACC.

August 4, 2005
Classification of the Film BIRTH By Jonathan Glazer

Complaint

A complaint was received by the Council, by letter dated 10 June 2005, that this film should be refused classification. It submitted that the film could be used by paedophiles to persuade children that sex between adults and children was acceptable. It submitted that the film contained exploitative and offensive depictions of a child.

The Council decided to view the film, and did so on 4 August 2005.

Synopsis

Anna is a young widow about to remarry. Her plans are disrupted when a boy aged 10 appears, claiming to be her dead husband. Complications arise for her as she comes to believe his claim.

Current classification

The film is currently classified MA15+ in Australia. This means that children aged 15 and over may lawfully view or hire the film unaccompanied, but those under 15 cannot attend a screening or hire the film unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In the United Kingdom, the film was classified 15, meaning that no one younger than 15 may see it in a cinema or rent or buy it on video or DVD. In the United States, the advisory classification is 17, meaning that persons under that age are required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. In New Zealand, the classification decision was ‘Objectionable except if the availability of the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 16 years’.

The film was released in Australian cinemas on 26 April 2005 and on DVD in early August 2005. No member of the public has complained to the Council after viewing the film, nor has the Council heard from any parent or guardian whose child has seen the film. Critical reviews of the film are available on the Internet.

Matters to be considered in classification

1. The Classification (Publications Films and Computer Games) Act 1995, s. 19, says:

The matters to be taken into account by the Council or the Minister in making a decision on the classification of a publication, film or computer game include—

(a) the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults; and

(b) the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the publication, film or game; and

(c) the general character of the publication, film or game, including whether it is of a medical, legal or scientific character; and

(d) the persons or class of persons to or amongst whom it is published or is intended or likely to be published.

Section 18 says:

Publications, films and computer games are to be classified by the Council or the Minister in accordance with the National Classification Code and the national classification guidelines.

Council deliberations

Public standards of morality
This film contemplates the possibility of a romantic relationship between an adult and a child. The relationship is not one that Anna seeks. Rather, the possibility emerges because she comes to believe that Sean, though apparently a child, is really her husband in a child’s form. This belief gives rise to the dilemma of relating to him both as her beloved husband and as a ten-year-old stranger. Thus, she questions him about the possibility of a sexual relationship, but resolves this by deciding that they will wait until he is 21 and marry.

It is only while Anna is able to sustain her belief in his claim that she approaches the child as a potential romantic partner. Once she realizes that he is not her husband, she loses all interest in him. She is not presented as a paedophile.

The film does not present the interactions between Anna and Sean as acceptable but as problematic. Sean himself exhibits little emotion, while Anna endures mental anguish. Other characters, such as Anna’s fiancé and her mother, disbelieve Sean’s claim and try to disabuse Anna of her belief. Anna’s inability to dismiss Sean alienates her from those closest to her and threatens her relationships.

The Council thought that the Australian public is gravely concerned about child sexual abuse. A film that depicted actual child sexual abuse, or promoted sexual activity between adults and children, would not be tolerated by reasonable adults. The Council did not think, however, that a film would necessarily be refused classification only because it dealt with a theme of child sexual abuse. For example, the 1999 film LOLITA is concerned with a romantic/sexual relationship between an adult and a child but was classified R18+.

The Council noted that an offensive or exploitative depiction of a child will result in an RC classification. It considered the particular scenes complained of, that in the bathtub1, the conversation about a possible sexual relationship, and the kiss on the lips. Clearly these depictions would offend some viewers. The Council did not, however, consider them to be of such impact that the film should be banned.

Artistic merit
The film, which was screened at the Venice Film Festival, is meant as a serious artwork. The cast includes noted actors. The cinematography is of high quality. Critics writing for reputable journals have reviewed it favourably. For example, the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR said:

‘The eerie tale is steeped in brooding atmosphere and psychological suspense thanks to Glazer’s hugely imaginative visual style and creative use of music, sound and silence. Huston gives a starmaking performance and Kidman is better than ever. Brilliant.’

The Council did not think that it was the purpose or the effect of the film to gratify any prurient interest.

General character
The film is an entertainment of a serious nature. It has no medical, legal or scientific character.

Likely or intended audience
The film is made for adult viewers. It is unlikely to appeal to children or to be selected by parents for children’s viewing. It is slow-paced, even ponderous. The tone is sombre. Much of the film consists of brief conversations among adult family members in their homes. Many of the adult interactions are subtle and it would be difficult for child viewers to follow the storyline or the import of the interactions. The dialogue is sparse and there are many visuals of faces and family groups where little overt action occurs. Several scenes are silent, or nearly so.

Consistently with the suggestion that he is an adult in a child’s body, Sean is portrayed as an unusual child. His demeanour is unvarying. He is taciturn, solemn and solely focussed on his claim to be Anna’s husband. He treats adults as equals, regarding them dispassionately and without affection. His role involves chiefly mundane activities such as eating cake, taking a bath, being put to bed, etc rather than any more adventurous activities that might be likely to hold the interest of a child viewer. As there are no other children in the film, all his interactions are with adults. Their interest in him is limited to whether he is, or is not, the reincarnation of Anna’s dead husband. The Council thought it unlikely that child viewers would warm to or identify with Sean.

Most children would find this film too boring to sit through. Children younger than highschool age would struggle to follow the story.

The Council noted the complainant’s concern that a parent or guardian who is a paedophile might select the film with the intention of grooming his or her child to take part in sexual activity with the parent or guardian. It is not impossible that a paedophile parent or guardian could select the film with that intention, although it is also conceivable that a paedophile would be willing to break the law to show the child material that is more directly sexual in nature. The Council doubted that the exhibition of this film to a young child would, however, persuade the child to accept sexual relations between adults and children.

Code and Guidelines
The Code says that a film that describes or depicts a child in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult is classifiable RC. A film that is unsuitable for a minor to see is classifiable R18+. A film that depicts or deals with matters of sex in such manner as to be unsuitable for viewing by persons under 15 is classifiable MA15+.

The Guidelines elaborate on the Code. The difference between the R18+ category and the MA15+ category is one of impact. Strong themes are permitted in MA15+ if justified by context. There are virtually no restrictions on themes in R18+. The RC guideline says that a film that contains depictions or descriptions of child sexual abuse, or exploitative or offensive depictions of a child, will be banned. That also applies to a film that promotes or provides instruction in paedophile activity.

Conclusion

The Council decided to classify the film MA15+. The theme of an adult-child relationship is a strong theme but its impact in this case is not so high as to require an R18+ classification. Children aged over 15 are likely to be aware of child sexual abuse as a social issue and to know that sexual activity between children and adults is a serious crime. With an MA15+ classification, children under 15 will not be able to select the film for themselves. Their parents would be unlikely to select it for them both because it would not appeal to children and because parents would not consider it suitable viewing.

The Council noted that the Board had attached consumer advice of ‘Adult themes; Strong sex scene’2, which would be likely to alert parents that the film is unsuitable for younger children. The Council adopted this advice for South Australia.

The Council did not think the film likely to influence a child of any age to accept sexual relations with an adult. It did not consider that the film promoted or provided instruction in paedophile activity. It noted that some of the depictions of the child could offend some people but did not judge that the depictions were so offensive that the film should be classified RC.

1 The Council understands that the film was not actually made by having the adult and the child naked together in the bath, even though that is how the finished scene appears.

2 This refers to a scene between Anna and her fiancé, not to any scene involving the child.

– South Australian Classification Council report

Complaints to the Board

October 17, 2005
BIRTH, Review Applicant: AFA, Reason for withdrawal: Fee waiver refused
A determination is not made on withdrawn applications, yet a considerable amount of time is spent by the Convenor and the secretariat on these applications.

15 complaints about BIRTH (MA15+) due to misleading media reports about the depiction of an adult-child relationship. Media and other reports surrounding this film often contained misleading information on the actual content of the film triggering a significant level of complaints. No complaints were received from consumers who had viewed the film.

– Classification Board, Annual Report, 2004 to 2005

October 6, 2006
[One of] the main issues raised in the correspondence were: BIRTH (MA 15+) (17 items).

– Classification Board, Annual Report, 2005 to 2006

End of the Spear

Directed by Jim Hanon / 2005 / USA / IMDb


In February 2007, a DVD of END OF THE SPEAR received an MA15+ (Strong violence and themes).

February 6, 2007
Reasons for the Decision

The classifiable elements are strong violence and themes that are strong in viewing impact.

THEMES AND VIOLENCE

The film contains strong violence and themes that are inextricably linked and are justified by context. The film concerns the activities of Christian missionaries in Ecuador, how they tried to assist the tribesmen of the Waodani in the eastern rainforests and were massacred in the process. The Waodani were a violent people who had a kill or be killed approach to survival in the rainforest and there are numerous depictions of spearings and stabbings throughout the film. It becomes clear to the missionaries that, as a result of the lifestyle of the Waodani in the bloody wars with neighbouring tribes and family groups, they face annihilation by other tribes and by government forces that were to be sent in to quell the violence. Some of the stronger examples of themes and violence in this film include but are not limited to:

At approximately 4 minutes, the child Mincayani awakens in his hut to find his family under attack by a neighbouring tribe. The invaders run through the village, spearing and stabbing women and children. The Waodani are seen scrambling through the dark rain forest to escape. Mincayani and his sister Dayumae escape but are pursued by an adult male attacker. At approximately 4.30 minutes the attacker finds the baby Nemo lying, crying on the ground and implicitly cuts her throat with a machete. He then prepares to kill again but is implicitly speared from behind. Mincayani and Dayumae run away and hide in the dark, still being pursued by the other tribe. In the morning they find Dayumae’s father who is dying of a wound received in the battle. His wife, Dayumae’s mother says she will strangle Dayumae and put her in the grave with her father so they have to leave this group as well. In the rainforest, Dayumae decides to go to live with the ‘foreigners’, the white people, in an effort to survive.

At 44 minutes, the young Christian missionaries have gone into the rain forest, without official sanction, in an effort to befriend the Waodani and persuade them to cease their violent payback raids to ensure their survival. Through a misunderstanding between the two groups, the Waodani attack the missionaries with spears. The violence in this sequence is enhanced by the use of slow motion footage as the Waodani spear the missionaries and close up reaction shots of the faces of the missionaries as they fall and die with bloody spears protruding from their chests.

At 45 minutes, one of the missionaries is struggling to call for assistance on the radio in the plane when a Waodani tribesman comes around the plane and spears him in the back.

At 46 minutes, missionary Nate Saint is speared and falls on his back near the plane. Here he is speared again by Mincanyani as he struggles to repeat the Waodani words of friendship and reassurance that his son taught him.

At 48 minutes, Nate Saint lies soaked in blood in the rain, with a spear protruding from his chest and hears his son calling him repeatedly on the plane radio. The Waodani are confused by the sound of a voice coming from the plane and spear and slash the plane with their machetes.

At 75 minutes, this child Steve Saint goes into the rainforest with his mother and his aunt and lives amongst the Waodani people who have killed his father and the other missionaries. His mother explains to him that, as Nate’s son, the Waodani would expect him to avenge his father’s death. So she instructs him not to ask too many questions about the massacre.

At 83 minutes Mincayani is seen hunting a pig, which is depicted covered in blood and monkeys which he then throws away. The implication is that he is trying to starve out the missionaries in an effort make them leave his forest the way it was.

The Board notes that most of the violence in the film is implied or takes place just off screen, the depictions of the wounds are achieved through the use of post action visuals and the blood detail is reasonably discreet.

However, the Board considers that the strong linking between the violence and the themes in the film has an intensifying effect on both these elements and that the viewing impact is further enhanced by the cumulative effect of both the violence and themes over the length of the film. For this reason, the Board considers that the film warrants a classification of MA 15 + with a consumer advice for strong violence and themes.

Decision

This film is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice for strong violence and themes.

– Classification Board report

Censored M-rating

A month later, a cut version dropped the classification to M (Moderate violence and themes).

March 1, 2007
Reasons for the Decision
The Board notes that the item is a revised version of a film that was classified MA 15+ with a consumer advice for strong violence and themes on February 6th, 2007. The Board decision of that time noted that the linking of the violence and themes in the original product, coupled with their cumulative effect throughout the length of the film increased the viewing impact of these classifiable elements to a level of strong.

The revised version of the film submitted in this application has been edited in several places. Examples of these changes are noted below:

At approximately 44 minutes the sequence in which the missionaries are speared by the Waodani has been reduced in length with a resultant mitigation in the viewing impact of the violence in the scene. The contentious material statement in the application notes that the most graphic shots have been removed.

The contentious material statement also notes that at approximately 46 and 48 minutes images of the dying missionary Nate Saint have been toned down and the Board considers that the sequence is less impactful as a result.

It is the view of the Board that these and other changes, within the overall context of the film, result in the mitigation of viewing impact of this film to the degree that it can be accommodated at the upper end of the M classification.

Decision

This film is classified M with consumer advice for moderate violence and themes.

– Classification Board report
End of the Spear (2005) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Con Dios

The applicant, Con Dios Entertainment, released it on DVD.

Australian cuts exported

In November 2007, New Zealand’s OFLC awarded a DVD an R16 (Contains violence) classification. The running time was 111:15.

The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards made a successful appeal that saw it dropped to R13 (Medium level violence with some disturbing scenes). This morals group would normally be calling for stricter classification and bans. However, in this case, they argued for a lower rating’…in light of the overall Christian message of the film and its context’.

July 28, 2008
Further Provision Concerning Australian Cross Rating
It is accepted that the Act provides for cross-rating of publications from Australia. On the evidence available to it, there appears to be two versions of END OF THE SPEAR and no definite proof as to which of these versions has been classified in Australia. The Board therefore does not place weight on the Australian rating in this case.

– Register of Classification Decisions
– New Zealand Office of Film & Literature Classification

The DVD was presumably an Australian import of the M-rated censored version.


Step Up 3

aka Step Up 3D

Directed by Jon M. Chu / 2010 / USA / IMDb

On 30 July 2010, STEP UP 3D received an M (Infrequent coarse language).

A 2D 35mm print followed on August 3 and a 3D (AMENDED VERSION) on August 4. Both received PG (Mild coarse language) ratings.

All ran 107-minutes and were submitted by Universal Pictures International. The modified print was released theatrically.

Censored for home viewing

In October 2010, a 140-minute DVD received a PG (Infrequent coarse language).

Universal Pictures Australasia was the applicant.

Step Up 3 (2010) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Universal

The Blu-ray release carries the same rating.

Audio censorship

The word ‘fuck’ was removed from STEP UP 3 to reduce the rating from M to PG.

Luke (Rick Malambri) walks through a group of people in an alleyway who call out his name. At 63:43, after finding the door locked, Luke says, ‘What the fuck?’.

Step Up 3 (2010) - Luke (Rick Malambri) says, 'What the fuck?'
Uncut – Audio

The 107:09 PG version, playing on Netflix Australia in 2023, changes this to ‘What the hell? This is bullshit’. Subtitles available online shorten it to ‘What the hell?’. Presumably, the censored Australian version has one of these.

Many online subtitles have the ‘What the hell?’ variant, indicating other territories had the modified version. Luke is shown from behind, so the cut is seamless. It may have been a deliberate choice to leave the language options open and avoid awkward mouth movements.


Manchester by the Sea

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan / 2016 / USA / IMDb

On 6 January 2017, a 138-minute DCP of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA received an MA15+ (Strong coarse language).

The classification matrix described,
Strong impact: language
Moderate impact: themes, violence, sex
Mild impact: drug use
None: nudity

January 5, 2017
Reasons for the Decision
The classifiable element is language that is strong in viewing impact.

The examples described below do not represent an exhaustive list of the content that caused the film to be classified MA 15+. The times given are approximations.

LANGUAGE

Strong coarse language may be used. Aggressive or very strong coarse language should be infrequent.

The film contains use of coarse language that is strong in impact. It includes a single use of very strong coarse language in the form of the word “cunt” (at 76 minutes) in addition to use of the word “fuck” and derivatives which is occasionally aggressive and episodically frequent.

At 76 minutes, Patrick and Sandy, teenagers who are dating, are lying on her bed kissing and lightly caressing each other. Sandy is lying on her back and Patrick is beside her, on his side. He slides his hand into the front of her jeans and then complains about how her belt buckle is cutting into his hand. His hand is slightly stuck and she tells him to take it out. Patrick’s hand remains there and she says, “Will you please just take your hand out of my cunt?”

In the Board’s opinion, the overall impact of coarse language within the context of this film is no higher than strong and it can therefore, be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that the film contains themes, violence and sex that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

Decision

This film is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of strong coarse language.

– Classification Board report

Censored M-rating

This was followed on 23 January by another 138-minute DCP. This time it was rated M (Mature themes, coarse language, violence and sexual references).

The classification matrix described,
Moderate impact: themes, violence, language, sex
Mild impact: drug use
None: nudity

January 20, 2017
Reasons for the Decision
The classifiable elements are themes, violence, sex and language that are moderate in viewing impact.

LANGUAGE

Coarse language may be used. Aggressive or strong coarse language should be infrequent and justified by context.

The film contains use of coarse language that is moderate in impact. It includes infrequent use of aggressive or strong coarse language that is justified by context in the form of the word “fuck” and derivatives.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that the film contains drug references that can be accommodated within a lower classification. The Board also notes that the item is a modified version of the film previously classified MA 15+ (with consumer advice of strong coarse language) on 6 January 2017.

Decision: This film is classified M with consumer advice of mature themes, coarse language, violence and sexual references.

– Classification Board report
Manchester by the Sea (2016) - Australian movie poster 1
Poster – Universal – M-rated

In both cases, Universal Pictures International was the applicant.

The modified M-rated version opened theatrically on 26 January.

What was censored?

A single mention of ‘cunt’ was missing from the Australian theatrical release of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) - Sandy (Anna Baryshnikov) saying, ‘Would you please just take your hand out of my cunt?’.
Uncut – Audio

At 76:00, Sandy (Anna Baryshnikov) and Patrick (Lucas Hedges) are on the bed when she asks him, ‘Would you please just take your hand out of my cunt?’.

Uncut DVD & Blu-ray

In February 2017, a 296-minute DVD received an MA15+ (Strong coarse language). The classification matrix was the same as the initial submission.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Universal Sony

The applicant, Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, released it on DVD and Blu-ray.


Lady Bird

Directed by Greta Gerwig / 2017 / USA / IMDb

On 23 January 2018, a precut 94-minute Digital Cinema Package (DCP) of LADY BIRD received an MA15+ (Brief strong nudity).

The classification matrix described,
Strong impact: nudity
Moderate impact: themes, language, sex
Mild impact: drug use
None: violence

January 23, 2018
Reasons for the Decision:
The classifiable element is nudity that is strong in viewing impact.

The examples described below do not represent an exhaustive list of the content that caused the film to be classified MA 15+. The times given are approximations.

NUDITY

The film contains nudity that is strong in impact and justified by context.

At 78 minutes, on her 18th birthday, Lady Bird purchases a packet of cigarettes, a lottery ticket and an issue of the pornographic magazine PLAYGIRL from a convenience store. In front of the convenience store, Lady Bird smokes a cigarette as she reads the PLAYGIRL magazine. An overturned page of the magazine reveals three inset images of a nude man, two of which depict explicit genital detail. The top inset image depicts a tanned, musclebound man lying down with a semi-erect penis draped over his left leg. The bottom-right inset image depicts the same man, seated, holding the base of his vertically-slanting erect penis.

In the Board’s opinion, the overall impact of nudity within the context of this film exceeds moderate and therefore, warrants accommodation within the MA 15+ classification, with consumer advice of brief strong nudity best describing the most impactful content.

– Classification Board report

It was followed on 30 January by another 94-minute DCP now rated M (Mature themes, coarse language and a sex scene).

The classification matrix described,
Moderate impact: themes, language, sex
Mild impact: drug use
None: violence, nudity

January 30, 2018
Synopsis:
A modified version of the previously classified film LADY BIRD, a comedic coming-of-age film about the rebellious titular character. The modification takes the form of a very brief edit.

Reasons for the Decision:

The Board notes that the original film has been previously classified MA15+ (with consumer advice of brief strong nudity) on 23 January 2018.

The Board notes that this version has been modified in the form of a brief edit at 78 minutes.

In the Board’s opinion, the modified material comprising this film imparts an impact that does not exceed moderate, therefore this material warrants a M classification with consumer advice of mature themes, coarse language and a sex scene.

The classifiable elements are themes, language and sex that are moderate in viewing impact.

– Classification Board report

In both cases, Universal Pictures International was the applicant.

Lady Bird (2017) - Australian movie poster 1
Poster – Universal – M-rated

The modified M-rated version opened theatrically on 15 February.

What censored nudity & language?

Two mentions of ‘cunt’ and a male nude were missing from the M-rated Australian theatrical release of LADY BIRD.

At 40:00, Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) is talking to (Odeya Rush). Referring to Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith), she says, ‘She’s a cunt’.

Lady Bird (2017) - Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) calls Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith) a 'cunt'
Uncut – Audio

A confused Julie (Beanie Feldstein) replies that Lady Bird likes Sister Sarah Joan. Lady Bird responds, ‘Yeah, but…she’s a cunt’.

Lady Bird (2017) - Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) again calls Sister Sarah Joan (Lois Smith) a 'cunt'
Uncut – Audio

Aiming for an M-rating, Universal Pictures International censored both mentions of ‘cunt’ from the first submission. They did not predict that nudity would still result in an MA15+ and require a second submission.

At 78:00, Lady Bird is celebrating turning 18 by purchasing cigarettes and a copy of PLAYGIRL magazine. She holds it up to read, revealing an image of a naked man.

Lady Bird (2017) - Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) reads PLAYGIRL magazine
Reading Playgirl

With this shot removed, it was finally M-rated. The censorship played as follows.

February 19, 2018
Two uses of ‘cunt’ have been censored, one gone completely whilst the other one has been overdubbed with ‘cooze’ in the dialogue.
Also, a brief view of a magazine has been deleted entirely, due to some male genitals briefly visible.

– Lady Bird (2017) has been censored
Facebook.com/MediaCensorshipInAustralia

Uncut Blu-ray & DVD

In April 2018, a 201-minute uncut DVD received an MA15+ (Strong coarse language and brief nudity).

The classification matrix described,
Strong impact: language, nudity
Moderate impact: themes, sex
Mild impact: drug use
None: violence

April 20, 2018
Synopsis:
This version of the film is a compilation of a previously unclassified version of the feature film, LADY BIRD, and bonus material in the form of an audio commentary by the film’s director and cinematographer and a featurette titled REALIZING LADY BIRD.

Reasons for the Decision:

The classifiable elements are language and nudity that are strong in viewing impact.
The examples described below do not represent an exhaustive list of the content that caused the film to be classified MA 15+. The times given are approximations.

LANGUAGE

Strong coarse language may be used. Aggressive or very strong coarse language should be infrequent.

The film contains use of coarse language that is strong in impact. It includes two uses of very strong coarse language in the form of the word “cunt” in addition to use of the word “fuck” and derivatives.

At 38 minutes, Jenna tells Lady Bird, “Sarah-Joan is all up in my jock.” Lady Bird replies, “She’s a cunt” Jenna says, “Birdy, you like her.” Lady Bird retorts, “Yeah, but she’s a cunt.”

In the Board’s opinion, the overall impact of coarse language within the context of this film is no higher than strong and it can therefore, be accommodated within the MA 15+ classification.

NUDITY

The film contains nudity that is strong in impact and justified by context.

At 78 minutes, on her 18th birthday, Lady Bird purchases a packet of cigarettes, a lottery ticket and an issue of the pornographic magazine PLAYGIRL from a convenience store. In front of the convenience store, Lady Bird smokes a cigarette as she reads the PlLAYGIRL magazine. An overturned page of the magazine reveals three inset images of a nude man, two of which depict explicit genital detail. The top inset image depicts a tanned, musclebound man lying down with a semi-erect penis draped over his left leg. The bottom-right inset image depicts the same man, seated, holding the base of his vertically-slanting erect penis.

In the Board’s opinion, the overall impact of nudity within the context of this film exceeds moderate and therefore, warrants accommodation within the MA 15+ classification, with consumer advice of brief strong nudity best describing the most impactful content.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that a version of the film was previously classified MA 15+ (with consumer advice of brief strong nudity) on January 23, 2018. A modified version of the film, with the depiction of brief strong nudity removed, was classified M (with consumer advice of mature themes, coarse language and a sex scene) on January 30, 2018.

No version of the feature film has been submitted for classification with strong coarse language in the form of the word “cunt”. As this compilation film does not contain a version of the feature film that has a previous classification history, it is not possible for this application to be processed under the Additional Content Scheme. Accordingly, the Board has processed this as a “film other” application.

The Board also notes that this compilation film contains themes and sex that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

– Classification Board report
Lady Bird (2017) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Universal Sony

The applicant, Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, released it on DVD and Blu-ray.


Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Directed by Marielle Heller / 2018 / USA / IMDb

In November 2018, a 106-minute Digital Cinema Package (DCP) of CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? passed with an M (Coarse language and sexual references) rating.

The classification matrix described,
Moderate impact: language, sex
Mild impact: themes, drug use
Very mild impact: violence
None: nudity

The applicant, Twentieth Century Fox Film Distributors, precut the film to avoid an MA15+.

November 8, 2018
Reasons for the Decision
The classifiable elements are sex and language that are moderate in viewing impact.

LANGUAGE

Coarse language may be used. Aggressive or strong coarse language should be infrequent and justified by context.

The film contains use of coarse language that is moderate in impact. It includes infrequent use of aggressive or strong coarse language that is justified by context in the form of the word “fuck” and derivatives.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that the film contains themes and drug use that can be accommodated within a lower classification.

Decision

This film is classified M with consumer advice of coarse language and sexual references.

– Classification Board report

Uncut DVD

In February 2019, the complete version passed with an MA15+ (Strong coarse language) rating.

The classification matrix now described,
Strong impact: language
Moderate impact: themes, nudity, sex
Mild impact: drug use
Very mild impact: violence

February 4, 2019
Synopsis
A previously classified film titled CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME and additional content in the form of an audio commentary, four featurettes, deleted scenes and a photo gallery.

Reasons for the Decision
Pursuant to the Guidelines for the Classification of Films, this film is classified MA 15+ as the impact of the classifiable elements is strong. Material classified MA 15+ is considered unsuitable for persons under 15 years of age. It is a legally restricted category.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that in making this decision consideration was given to information supplied under section 14(5) of the Classification Act. This section allows, where a film comprises one or more classified films and/or one or more exempt films and additional content, for an applicant who is of the opinion that it would be classified R 18+ or lower to supply an assessment of the classification and consumer advice for the additional content. The person who prepares the assessment must be an authorised person under section 22(0) of the Classification Act.

The Board also notes that the classified film that comprises part of this film was classified M with consumer advice of coarse language and sexual references on 08/11/2018.

The Board agrees with the recommended classification of MA 15+ and consumer advice of strong coarse language for the additional content.

Decision

This film is classified MA 15+ with consumer advice of strong coarse language.

– Classification Board report
Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) - DVD cover 1
DVD – 20th Century Fox

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment released the 248-minute DVD.

What was censored for an M-rating?

Tom S. reports.
Language and drug use were removed to avoid an MA15+.

At 71:45, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) is shown snorting cocaine.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) - Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) snorts cocaine
Jack snorts cocaine

In the M-rated version, he was cropped out via a zoom, which made the grain spike in the scene and created a weird composition that looked inorganic. The camera focuses on Kurt (Christian Navarro). He only briefly comes into frame proper when Kurt blows smoke into his mouth. In the M version, you can only see his arm on the side of the screen, with the focus being on Kurt. This is a very awkward bit of framing, considering he is talking.

At 96:00, Jack says, ‘You’re a horrid cunt, Lee’.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) - Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant) saying, ‘You’re a horrid cunt, Lee’
Uncut – Audio

Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) replies, ‘You too, Jack’.

In the M-rated version, he calls her a ‘horrid shit’, but you notice a dub as his mouth is easy to read.


Killers of the Flower Moon

Directed by Martin Scorsese / 2023 / USA / IMDb

On 5 September 2023, a 206-minute DCP of KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON received an MA15+ (Strong injury detail and suicide references).

The classification matrix described,
Strong impact: themes
Moderate impact: violence, language
Mild impact: sex
None: drug use, nudity

It was followed on 8 October by another 206-minute DCP but lowered to M (Mature themes, violence, coarse language and suicide references).

The classification matrix now described,
Moderate impact: themes, violence, language
Mild impact: sex
None: drug use, nudity

The dropping of themes from ‘Strong’ to ‘Moderate impact’ may indicate censorship involving suicide.

In both cases, Paramount Pictures Australia was the applicant.

What was censored?

Tom S. reports.
Before – An overhead shot of Reta (Janae Collins) lying on the ground as her family discovers her.

Censored at 113:50 by 00:10 approx.
Shot 1 – Ernest (Leonardo DiCaprio) looking worried and breathing heavily. This was removed for continuity reasons.
Shot 2 – Reta’s being hoisted up, leading to her brains hanging out of the back of her head and a gush of blood.

Killers of the Flower Moon (2023) - Rita's dead body
Rita’s open skull

After – Ernest walking closer and looking down worried, whilst a family member off-camera says ‘She’s dead’.