American Animation Films

Animated movies from America that have been censored Australia.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale / 1996 / USA / IMDb

In mid-1996, a 91-minute 35mm print of Disney’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME received a PG (Low level violence).

Roadshow Film Distributors were anticipating a G-rating and appealed the decision.

PG-rating remains

One of the four-panel members found that it could be dropped to G (Some scenes may be unsuitable for young children), while the remainder upheld the decision of the Classification Board.

July 12, 1996
APPLICANT
Roadshow Film Distributors

BUSINESS
To review the decision of the Classification Board to assign the classification PG under the Classification Act to the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME with the consumer advice ‘Low Level Violence’.

DECISION AND REASONS FOR DECISION

1. Decision

The Classification Review Board decided to confirm the decision of the Classification Board to classify the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME PG with the consumer advice ‘Low Level Violence’.

2. Legislative Provisions

The Classification Act and the WA Videotapes Classification and Control Act 1987 govern the classification of films and the review of classification decisions. The Classification Acts provide that films are to be classified in accordance with the National Classification Code and the classification guidelines. Relevantly, the National Classification Code in paragraph 6 of the Table under the heading ‘films’ provides that films (except RC films. R films, X films. MA and M films) that cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of their parents or guardians are to be classified PG.

Procedure

3.1 Four members of the Review Board viewed the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME at its meeting of 11 and 12 July 1996.

3.2 The Board heard oral submissions from Mrs Janet Strickland on behalf of the applicant, at its meeting on 11 and 12 July.

4. Evidence

In reaching its decision the Review Board had regard to the following:

(a) the applicant’s Application for Review;

(b) the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME;

(c) oral submissions made on behalf of the applicant by Mrs Janet Strickland;

(d) the relevant provisions in the Classification Act and in the WA Video Tapes Classification and Control Act 1987;(e) the relevant provisions in the National Classification Code as amended in accordance with section 6 of the Classification Act: and

(f) the current classification guidelines for films determined under section 12 of the Classification Act and endorsed by Censorship Ministers.

5. Findings on material questions of fact

The plot

5.1 The film is an animated version of Victor Hugo’s story of Quasimodo, the ‘hunchback’ of Notre Dame, his unrequited love for the gypsy girl Esmerelda, and her perils at the hands of the evil judge Frollo.

The themes and scenes of violence and menace

5.2 The Review Board considered the themes and scenes cited by the Classification Board.

These were:

1) at 3 minutes, a gypsy mother (with baby in arms) is pursued by Frollo on a ferocious looking horse. She is flung on to the cathedral steps, hits her head and dies. Frollo attempts to dispose of the baby down a well.

2) at 30minutes, Quasimodo is tied up in the village square, pelted with rubbish and flogged.

3) at 35 minutes, Frollo grabs Esmerelda in the cathedral, sniffs her hair, and says ‘I’m imagining a rope around your neck’.

4) at 50-52 minutes, Frollo sings of his feelings for Esmerelda. Images of Esmerelda appear in the flames: menacing images of red robed figures and black shadows appear.

5) at 53 minutes, while searching for Esmerelda, families with children are thrown in the water, or locked into houses which are set on fire.

6) at 75 minutes, the battle for the cathedral rages.

7) at 78 minutes, Frollo pursues Esmerelda and Quasimodo with sword and much menace.

It was noted that the language used including the use of song to tell parts of the story, was complex, and would hinder young children’s perceptions of the plot, and eventual outcomes.

5.3 The majority of the Review Board found these themes and incidents were not treated in a manner consistent with the classification criteria for G, viz, the violence depictions were neither ‘minimal, mild and incidental’ nor characterised by ‘a very low sense of threat or menace’ or ‘a light tone’. Further, the majority found the basic premise for G classification, viz, parents should feel confident that children may view material in this classification without supervision, knowing that no distress or harm is likely to be caused’, was not met.

5.4 A minority of the Board found that the violence was not so impactful that it would disturb children, and that sufficient warning to parents could be obtained from classifying the film G with consumer advice ‘Some Scenes May Be Unsuitable For Young Children’.

6. Reasons for the Decision

6.1 The Review Board based its decision to confirm the Classifications Board’s decision to classify the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME PG, with the consumer advice ‘Low Level Violence’ on the content and impact of the film as set out in 5.2 and 5.3 above.

6.2 The applicant argued that while the film had been made for children, it was not made for very young children. The Board should not have applied a test of suitability for very young children. Further, the film had a moral message, lightened by humour, and wizardry; the violence was animated and children could distinguish between animated action and real.

The Review Board rejects these arguments. Films in the G category are required to be suitable for viewing by children of all ages without supervision and without causing anxiety or distress. The appropriate classification to be used where there are disturbing elements (such as violence which is not minimal, mild and incidental), is PG. The classification gives a signal to parents that there are elements which may disturb their children.

Further, the Review Board did not accept that elements such as ‘humour and wizardry’ would provide sufficient balance to the tone and impact of the darker and extended sequences. Further, the effect of animation can be to heighten the impact of some violent sequences, providing an unnatural focus on them.

6.3 The Review Board concluded that the film cannot be recommended for viewing by persons who are under 15 without the guidance of a parent or guardian, within the meaning of Paragraph 6 of the Table under the heading ‘Films in the National Classification Code’.

6.4 The Review Board also concluded that the film contained scenes and themes of violence which when viewed by those under 15 years require the guidance of a parent or guardian.

7. Summary

The Review Board’s decision is to confirm the decision of the Classification Board to classify the film THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME PG with the consumer advice ‘Low Level Violence’.

This decision was taken after full consideration of the applicant’s submission, and after assessing the film as a whole against relevant legislative criteria, including those contained in the National Classification Code, and in the current classification guidelines for films determined under section 12 of the Classification Act. 11 to 12 July 1996.

– Classification Review Board report

Censored G-rated releases

On September 2, an 89-minute version twice passed with as G (Some scenes may be unsuitable for very young children).

The first, for Roadshow Film Distributors, was for the theatrical release.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Australian daybill movie poster 1
Daybill via moviemem

The second, for Roadshow Entertainment, was for the VHS on Walt Disney Home Video.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - VHS videotape 1
VHS – Disney

Censored Disney – What was cut?

Matt reports.
Walt Disney Home Video (au) – VHS – 85:24 (PAL) ≈ 88:58 (35mm)
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment (au) – Blu-ray – 90:49

The VHS is identical to the theatrical version. Missing is approximately 1:45 from two scenes.

Frollo threatens Esmerelda
Before – Frollo grabs Esmerelda from behind.
Frollo, ‘You think you’ve outwitted me, but I’m a patient man and gypsies don’t do well inside stone walls’
Censored 34:10 to 34:33 – Frollo sniffs Esmerelda’s hair.
Esmerelda, ‘What are you doing?’
Frollo, ‘I was just imagining a rope around that beautiful neck’.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Frollo sniffs Esmerelda’s hair
Frollo threatens Esmerelda

Esmerelda, ‘I know what you were imagining’.
Frollo, ‘ Such a clever witch. So typical of your kind to twist the truth…to cloud the mind with unholy thoughts. Well, no matter.’
After – Frollo, ‘You’ve chosen a magnificent prison’

‘Hellfire’ song.
Before – Frollo sings, ‘He made the Devil so much stronger than a man’
Flames flow up into the fireplace.
Censored 49:46 to 50:10 – The lyrics play over an outline of Esmerelda in flames and smoke.
‘Protect me, Maria’
‘Don’t let this siren cast her spell’
‘Don’t let her fire sear my flesh and bone’
‘Destroy Esmeralda’

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Frollo sings 'Destroy Esmerelda' from 'hellfire'
Frollo sings ‘Hellfire’

‘And let her taste the fires of hell’
‘Or else let her be mine and mine alone’
After/Before -Frollo turns to see the guard at the door.
Guard, ‘Minister Frollo, the gypsy has escaped’
The scene ends with Frollo saying,
‘I’ll find her if I have to burn down all of Paris’
The screen fades to black.
Censored 50:28 to 51:26 – Frollo continues to sing.
‘Hellfire’
‘Darkfire’
‘Now gypsy, it’s your turn’
‘Choose me or your pyre’
‘Be mine or you will burn’

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Frollo sings 'Be mine or you will burn' from 'Hellfire'
Frollo sings ‘Hellfire’

‘Kyrie eleison’
‘God have mercy on her’
‘Kyrie eleison’
‘God have mercy on me’
‘Kyrie eleison’
‘But she will be mine’
‘Or she will burn’
Frollo slumps and falls face down on the ground.
After – Frollo’s carriage pulls up, he gets out holding his head.

The sexual overtones of Frollo’s lustful sniff would have likely gone over the heads of a younger audience. The Classification Board report highlighted five other scenes, all of which appear untouched in the G-rated version. Arguably, all are more frightening to young children.

03:00 – Frollo’s attempt to throw the baby Quasimodo down the well.
35:00 – Quasimodo’s flogging.
53:00 – Families thrown into the water and locked in their burning houses.
75:00 – The battle of the cathedral.
78:00 – Frollo’s pursuit of Quasimodo and Esmerelda.

At the 1997 Sydney Film Festival, a film critics forum on censorship mentioned two cuts, one of which is incorrect. They presumably mean Quasimodo’s mother, not Esmerelda’s. Her death is just before Frollo holds the baby Quasimodo over the well. As previously mentioned, this scene appears uncut in the G-rated version.

June 11, 1997
Two scenes from the United States version of Disney’s THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME were cut to please Australian censors, the film’s distributor said last night.

Conservative American audiences saw Frodo [Frollo] stomp on Esmerelda’s poor gypsy mother and also watched him stand in a ring of fire swearing to destroy Esmerelda. But the animators in Burbank, California, agreed to cut the scenes rather than accept a PG rating.

– Hunchback suffered cuts from zealous censor
smh.com.au

Australia Movie & TV Censorship has a YouTube comparison of the cuts.

MPAA cuts

The Classification Board would later incorrectly claim the version released in America ran only 86-minutes.

October 1, 1997
The Board classified Walt Disney’s original animated version of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME as PG. While ‘clearly made for children’, the Board unanimously considered that it ‘retains enough of its dark intensity to add some conceptual strength to the depictions of violence and evil.’ It also ‘considered that small children may find this material disturbing …. the treatment is quite dark and adult in places and insufficiently balanced by comedy and love scenes to be accommodated in a G classification. It warrants a PG classification for violence and the tonal strength of the characterisation of the evil Frollo.’

The Board found that in a subsequent, edited version submitted by the film’s distributor, ‘the stronger scenes that informed the previous PG decision had been cut and/or modified.’ It also noted ‘however it is possible that the rather dark tone, unusual for Disney style animation may be a little scary for the youngest of children (though not harmful or disturbing ), and therefore consumer advice for the benefit of parents is warranted.’ The revised film was then unanimously classified G with a consumer advice, Some scenes may be unsuitable for very young children.’

The Board was later interested to learn that the Motion Picture Association of America G-rated version of the film released in the USA had a running time which was five minutes shorter than the original Australian version [86 vs. 91-minutes] and three minutes shorter than the revised version. This indicated that the film had also been edited before release in the USA, or that a different version had been submitted to the American classifiers.

– Films debated on particular classification borders
– Classification Review Board, Annual Report, 1996 to 1997

THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME did have issues in America, where it was also G-rated, but it is unlikely so much was removed. Indeed, any print with MPAA cuts usually ends up being the one released overseas.

Supporting this is the audio censorship, the lowering of Frollo’s sniff and singing the word ‘sin’, is now considered the default version.

Uncut PG-rated releases

In May 1999, uncut 91-minute 35mm prints twice passed with a PG (Low level violence) rating. The reasons for the submissions are unknown.

Buena Vista Entertainment received an identical rating for a DVD in October 2001.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Disney

This was the first uncut Australian release.

A 287-minute double-bill Blu-ray, paired with THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME II (2002), received a PG (Mild animated violence) in January 2013.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Blu-ray cover 1
Blu-ray – Disney

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment was the applicant.


Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool

aka Cars 3

Directed by James Ford Murphy / 2017 / USA / IMDb

In June 2017, a 109-minute DCP of CARS 3 received a G (Very mild themes and coarse language) rating.

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

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures was the applicant.

M-rated language

In September, a 228-minute Blu-ray was rated M (Coarse language).
The classification matrix now described,
Moderate impact: language
Very mild impact: themes
None: violence, drug use, nudity, sex

September 19, 2027
The film contains use of coarse language that is moderate in impact. It includes infrequent use of strong coarse language that is justified by context in the form of the word “fuck”.

At 1 minute in MISS FRITTER’S RACING SKOOOL, an old taxi is hit from the side by a large RV. The taxi is knocked out of frame and is heard yelling, “Hey! What the fu- (beep)! You stupid (beep)(beep)!”

Although the character speaking is off-screen, the use of the car horn to censor the coarse language does not sufficiently obscure the word, “fuck”.

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

– Classification Board report

The following month, a 226-minute Blu-ray saw the rating and classification matrix drop down to match the July decision.

October 5, 2017
Additional material consists of:
A modified version of the animated short titled – MISS FRITTER’S RACING SKOOOL.

The Board also notes that a modified version of this film, which included additional material in the form of an audio commentary, an animated short and two featurettes, was previously classified M (with consumer advice of coarse language) on 19 September 2017.

Given the reasons above, in the Board’s opinion the modified additional material contained in this version of the modified film does not contain any classifiable elements that alter the classification of the original film.

Therefore, this modified film warrants a G classification with consumer advice of very mild themes and coarse language.

– Classification Board report
Cars 3 (2017) - Blu-ray cover 1
Blu-ray – Disney

In both cases, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment was the applicant.

What was censored?

Matt reports.
MISS FRITTER’S RACING SKOOOL – 02:48

Before – Arvy Motorhome smashes into Faregame, pushing him off-screen. Over a shot of Arvy, Faregame says, ‘Hey! What!?’

Miss Fritter’s Racing Skoool (2017) - Faregame says, ‘Hey! What!?’
Censored – Audio

Censored at 01:19 – According to the M-rated report, the line should continue with ‘…the fu- (beep)! You stupid(beep)(beep)!’.
After – Arvy Motorhome says, ‘Oh’ and Faregame replies ‘Hey! Whoo-hoo! Over here!’

It is the only version I could find online, which indicates the censorship may be worldwide. This also applies to any available English subtitles.

It is unclear why there was a 2-minute difference between the G and M-rated Blu-ray.


Smallfoot

Directed by Karey Kirkpatrick – Jason Reisig / 2018 / USA / IMDb

In August 2018, a 96-minute Digital Cinema Package (DCP) of SMALLFOOT was passed with a PG (Mild coarse language) rating.

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

A second submission, with the same running time, was passed with a G (Very mild themes, Animated violence and Coarse language) rating in September.

Smallfoot (2018) - Movie poster 1
Poster – Roadshow – G-rated

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

In both cases, Roadshow Films was the applicant.

What was cut?

The modification was made to the line at 19:49 when Fleem says ‘A bunch of crap if you ask me’.

Smallfoot (2018) - Fleem saying 'A bunch of crap, if you ask me'
Uncut – Audio

The word ‘crap’ was also overdubbed in the UK to avoid a PG rating. The BBFC’s content advice section for the censored version refers to mild bad language, such as ‘poop’. Presumably, this was the word that replaced ‘crap’.

Uncut Blu-ray & DVD

In November 2018, a 122-minute DVD passed with the same PG-rating and classification matrix as the original submission.

Smallfoot (2018) - DVD cover 1
DVD – Roadshow

Roadshow Entertainment released this uncut version on DVD and Blu-ray in December 2018.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

Directed by Josh Gordon – Will Speck / 2022 / USA / IMDb

On 27 September 2022, a 106-minute Digital Cinema Package (DCP) of LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE passed with a PG (Mild themes) rating.

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

A second submission saw a 211-minute DCP classified G (Very mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare very young children) on October 21.

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

In both cases, Sony Pictures Releasing was the applicant.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) - Advertisement 1
Ad – Sony Pictures

The censored G-rated version of LYLE, LYLE, CROCODILE opened on December 26.

PG vs. G – Classification Reports

The differences between the two reports are highlighted in bold.

September 27, 2022
The examples described below do not represent an exhaustive list of the content that caused the film to be classified PG. The times given are approximations.

THEMES AND VIOLENCE

The film contains themes that have a low sense of threat and menace and are justified by context. The film also contains mild violence that is justified by context. The elements are, at times, inextricably linked. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

At 66 minutes, Hector is thrown out of a moving vehicle and lands in front of the family home. He quickly recovers and stands up, seemingly uninjured, and casually says, “Show business.” He is later viewed with a few scrapes on his face.

At 69 minutes, Hector tells the family he will be back in “…two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” A sad expression is depicted on Lyle’s face as he realises Hector is about to leave him again, that being the phrase he uses before he leaves. The family hear the sound of emergency vehicles approaching. Upon seeing the New York City Wildlife Control van, they realise the authorities have come to take Lyle away. Josh discovers that Hector has disappeared, implying he has betrayed Lyle. Officers converge on the property and surround Lyle, who is backed up against a wall in fear as Josh tries to explain that he is harmless. One wildlife officer zaps Lyle with a cattle prod before the other shoots him with a tranquiliser rifle, causing him to crumple to the ground, unconscious. Josh is visibly upset and crying. The scene is quickly resolved when Lyle is seen awakening amongst other crocodiles in what is revealed to be the local zoo.

At 84 minutes, Hector, having realised his mistake, attempts to break Lyle out of the zoo. After climbing down into the enclosure, he seeks out Lyle. A crocodile emerges from within the confinement and begins to stalk towards him. When Hector realises it isn’t Lyle, he tries to climb up his scarf-rope, but the rope falls into the enclosure. Josh is depicted outside of the enclosure watching Hector critically and insulting his plan. Lyle emerges to find crocodiles surrounding Hector and approaching him threateningly. Hector pleads for aid from Lyle apologising for his actions and cringing in fear. One of the crocodiles surrounding Hector launches towards him, but is stopped mid-lunge by Lyle, who is depicted biting onto its tail and throwing it aside. Hector is safe and the situation is resolved.

In the Board’s opinion, the violence portrayed in the film has a low sense of threat which is quickly resolved and often comedic in tone. As such, the film warrants a PG classification with appropriate consumer advice of mild themes, subsuming advice for violence.

Decision:

This film is classified PG with consumer advice of mild themes

– Classification Board report

The G-rated report highlights one line, at 66-minutes, that goes unmentioned in the PG report.

October 21, 2022
The examples described below do not represent an exhaustive list of the content that caused the film to be classified G. The times given are approximations.

THEMES and VIOLENCE

The film contains themes that have a very low sense of threat and menace and are justified by context. The film also contains mild violence that is justified by context. The elements are, at times, inextricably linked. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

At 66 minutes, Hector is thrown out of a moving vehicle and lands in front of the family home. As the car speeds away, a man’s voice can be heard shouting, “Get me the money!” He quickly recovers and stands up, seemingly uninjured, and casually says, “Show business.” He is later viewed with a few scrapes on his face.

At 69 minutes, Hector tells the family he will be back in “…two shakes of a lamb’s tail.” A sad expression is depicted on Lyle’s face as he realises Hector is about to leave him again, that being the phrase he uses before he leaves. The family hear the sound of emergency vehicles approaching. Upon seeing the New York City Wildlife Control van, they realise the authorities have come to take Lyle away. Josh discovers that Hector has disappeared, implying he has betrayed Lyle. Officers converge on the property and surround Lyle, who is backed up against a wall in fear as Josh tries to explain that he is harmless.

At 84 minutes, Hector, having realised his mistake, attempts to break Lyle out of the zoo. After climbing down into the enclosure, he seeks out Lyle. A crocodile emerges from within the confinement and begins to stalk towards him. When Hector realises it isn’t Lyle, he tries to climb up his scarf-rope, but the rope falls into the enclosure. Josh is depicted outside of the enclosure watching Hector critically and insulting his plan.

In the Board’s opinion, the violence portrayed in the film has a very low sense of threat which is quickly resolved and often comedic in tone. As such, the film warrants a G classification with appropriate consumer advice of mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare very young children.

OTHER MATTERS CONSIDERED OR NOTED

The Board notes that the original feature, with a duration of 106 minutes, has been previously classified PG with consumer advice of mild themes on 27 September 2022.

In the Board’s opinion, the modifications – which include edits to multiple scenes to omit sequences which depict violence or a sense of threat or peril – have reduced the impact of themes and violence so as not to exceed very mild in viewing impact. As such, the film can be accommodated within the G classification with consumer advice of very mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare very young children.

Decision:

This film is classified G with consumer advice of mild themes and violence, some scenes may scare very young children.

– Classification Board report

What was censored?

Australia Movie & TV Censorship reports.
These are the cuts in the G-rated version. A comparison is on my YouTube channel.

Josh (Winslow Fegley) walking upstairs to the attic is shortened and the jump scare is missing when he discovers Lyle. Neither was not mentioned in the PG report.

Hector (Javier Bardem) being thrown out of a car and the line, ‘Get me the money!’. Interestingly, the Classification Board’s G-rated report mentions both as present.

Lyle zapped with a cattle prod and shot with a tranquillizer dart.

The crocodile in the zoo lunging at Hector.

Uncut for home viewing

On November 3, Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment received a PG (Mild themes) for a 123-minute DVD and a 145-minute Blu-ray.

The classification matrix was the same as the first PG-rating.

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (2022) - Blu-ray cover 1
Blu-ray – Universal Sony

They were released in March 2023.

Censored downloads

As of July 2023, the G-rated version is listed on the Australian sites of Apple TV, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, Telstra TV Box Office and YouTube Movies.