The softcore and hardcore movies of Torgny Wickman that have been cut or banned in Australia.
Eva, the First Stone
Directed by Torgny Wickman/ 1969 / Sweden / IMDb
In August 1970, an 8332.00-feet (92:34) print of EVA, THE FIRST STONE was banned because of ‘indecency’.
At the time, the Suitable only for Adults’ (SOA) classification was the highest available. This was broadly equivalent to an M-rating.
New system & new submission
In February 1973, the Censorship Board demanded that cuts to the 2539.59-meter (92:34) print.
An appeal to the Films Board of Review saw them overturn the decision and pass it with an uncut R-rating.
In both cases, Star Films was the applicant.
Language of Love
Directed by Torgny Wickman / 1969 / Sweden / IMDb
In October 1972, a 3028.66-meter (110:24) print of LANGUAGE OF LOVE was banned because of ‘indecency’.
The Films Board of Review upheld the decision in January 1973.
Nine-months later, a 2921.60-meter (106:29) ‘reconstructed version’ was passed with an R-rating with ‘Special Conditions’.
The following warning was added to all advertising material.
October 1973– Censorship Board report
The Chief Film Censor has classified this film R subject to the notation ‘This is a sex education film’.
In all cases, Filmways Australasia was the applicant.
Four-minutes of footage was removed from LANGUAGE OF LOVE for an R-rating. However, the Attorney-General, Lionel Murphy, overruled the Censorship Board and ordered it to be passed uncut.
The Labor Senator’s decision drew predictable outrage from the opposition.
December 12, 1973
Senator Donald Jessop -Is it a fact that the Attorney General has flown in the face of the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board recommendation and has approved the showing of a film entitled LANGUAGE OF LOVE?
Is it also a fact that Mr Chipp, the former Minister for Customs and Excise, banned the film on the advice of the Board?
Is the Minister also aware of the fact that Mr Chipp, who viewed the film himself, has described it as pornography from start to finish and that it is being promoted in an aura of respectability by the makers as a sex education film?
Has the Attorney-General viewed this film himself?
Can he inform the Senate why he ignored the Board’s advice?
Senator Lionel Murphy – In a minute or two question time will finish, and I was beginning to think that no one would ask me about this topic, despite the publicity which it has had in the newspapers.
It is true that a decision was made by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board.
It is true that I have seen the film.
To put the position briefly, the suggestion of the Board that there should be a shortening of certain scenes would not, to my mind, affect the issue at all. The fact that a scene might be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes duration did not seem to me to alter the character of it. If one were to take the view that it was offensive in its original form, it would remain offensive whether it lasted 3 minutes or 5 minutes.
I took the view, and this was the advice, that this was a genuine effort by some distinguished Swedish medical practitioners. I think that I had the names of the very distinguished persons who were responsible for the production of this film. As I say, they are persons of the highest integrity.
The film has been shown elsewhere in the world. For the benefit of the honourable senator and others, I have made arrangements for it to be shown in Canberra tonight. If the sittings of the Senate permit I would ask honourable senators to attend at the National Library theatrette to see the film and make their own judgment on the matter. That invitation is extended to members of the other House as well. I believe that whilst it is a film that might offend some persons undoubtedly it would- it ought to be available to those who wish to see it.
It is in the ‘R’ category of film classification. No one is forced to see it. But if people wish to see the film- there are some very strong views that such films should be made available- it is my belief that the freedom of the citizen requires that he ought to be able to see such a film. The film classification is there. The citizen is put on notice. It is to be shown to persons over 18 years of age. In any event, the opportunity is there for the honourable senator to see the film. Whether or not he agrees with the course that I have taken, I think that it is probably important that members of Parliament see what the area of controversy is in regard to this and other films.– Question – Senator Donald Jessop (Liberal)
– Answer – Attorney-General, Senator Lionel Murphy (ALP)
– Senate Hansard, Parliament of Australia
The Attorney-General’s screening of LANGUAGE OF LOVE proved to be a hit.
Senator Vincent Clair Gair, the Federal Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, accused his fellow Senators of rushing through bills to attend.
December 14, 1973
The Government in the Senate guillotined 11 bills this afternoon with the help of four of the five DLP senators.
The guillotine, which left less than one hour to debate all the bills, was carried by 27 votes to 26.
Senator V. Gair (DLP, Qld) did not join his colleagues in voting with the Government but stayed to vote with the Opposition.
During a division to decide application of the guillotine, he was heard to comment: “A guillotine to permit members to see the LANGUAGE OF LOVE – sewer minds.”
[A special screening of the “R” certificate sex education film LANGUAGE OF LOVE was to be shown at the national library at 8 pm.]
“I have better reasons to go home than most of them. but I’m prepared to stay,” Senator Gair said.– Senate rush
– Sydney Morning Herald
God botherer outrage
The passing of LANGUAGE OF LOVE and other adult titles mobilised Christian morals groups into action. This campaign featured an early appearance by Fred Nile and the Australian arm of the Festival of Light.
January 7, 1974
A psychology lecturer criticised the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, yesterday for “forcing on to the community ideas on censorship that the vast majority would reject.”
Dr J. Court, a senior lecturer in psychology at Flinders University, South Australia, criticised Senator Murphy’s decision to allow the screening in Sydney of the film, LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
Dr Court, who is also chairman of the Community Standards Organisation in Australia was speaking to a gathering after the evening service in St Andrew’s Cathedral.
He is in Sydney to speak at rallies in the “Nowtime ‘74” festival organised by the Australian Christian Endeavour Movement as a protest against permissiveness.
He said Senator Murphy’s views left no doubt that he would allow hardcore pornography to be shown on Australian screens.
“I have a lot of evidence that pornography does cause psychological damage,” Dr Court said.
This was reflected in the increase of violent sexual crimes, many of which imitated acts depicted on the screen. He had been amazed on arrival in Sydney this week to find no evidence of any community reaction against LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
Do not be deceived by the title, since the film has little to do with love — it might be better entitled ‘Sex Techniques, Normal and Perverted’,’ Dr Court said.
He had not seen the film.
The important issue was not its content, but the principle associated with its screening.
Both the Film Censorship Board and the Film Board of Review had regarded the film as unsuitable for even an R certificate, Dr Court said.
Yet Senator Murphy had decided to override both these bodies.
“Clearly, this is an open challenge to the idea that there should be any controls.” Dr Court said.
“This film must be seen as a test case of how far we are prepared to be dictated to by one person.”
“I believe the community should challenge this film as failing to conform to prevailing community standards.”
“One man must not be allowed to thrust on to the community what the vast majority would reject.”– Murphy attacked on film release
– Sydney Morning Herald
January 9, 1974
Last weekend saw the start of Nowtime ’74, a pan-Protestant campaign in Sydney, which has brought together more than 2,500 Jesus followers from all parts of Australia and overseas.
The campaign, organised by the Australian Christian Endeavour Movement, is directed by the Rev Fred Nile, a Congregational minister who is regarded (with the possible exception of the Rev Alan Walker, his boss at the Central Methodist Mission) as Sydney’s answer to Billy Graham.
Star turn of the campaign is Dr David Hubbard, a chunky American evangelist, who says: “Pornography is boring.”
On the steps of the Town Hall a statement protesting against permissiveness was handed to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly,-Mr Jim Cameron. It said moral pollution had “infected every area of society” and posed a “real threat to our Australian way of life.”
The statement was composed by the Rev Bernard Judd, an Anglican clergyman widely known as a watchdog on “booze and gambling” and more recently as a critic of Senator Murphy’s proposed bill on civil rights.
Senator Murphy’s bill got a mention in the protest statement, as did the release of pornographic films such as DEEP THROAT, THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE and ALVIN PURPLE the growing violence in society (especially the recent attacks on women in Queensland and New South Wales) and the flood of sex papers into suburban newsagencies.
Special attention was paid to the television show NUMBER 96, which the statement described as “part of the blue invasion of Australian homes.”
Complaints about a generation gap, also a charge of negativism, have been levelled at the Festival of Light, another forthcoming and even more dramatic festival of anti-permissiveness, for which Nowtime is seen as a rehearsal. It is no accident that Mr Nile, director of Nowtime, will also direct FOL (the organisers’ name for it) in New South Wales.
FOL is inspired by a similar festival held in Adelaide last year, and attended by Britain’s moral crusader, Mrs Mary Whitehouse. An organiser explained: “We thought the campaign was too good to be confined to one city.” FOL organisers angrily reject the twin charges of negativism and “wowserism” — allegations which have appeared in the religious as well as the secular press. Supporters feel that protest can be positive well as negative. I was told: “Because we wish to ban something does not mean we are negative.
Mrs Whitehouse, known to campaigners as “Whitehouse the Lighthouse,” is unlikely to return to Australia.
Organisers of FOL in New South Wales are undecided about who should be invited in her place. One difficulty is the scarcity of suitably zealous but sufficiently eminent personalities. Latest information is that the pop singer Cliff Richard (who was in Sydney for last year’s Good Friday service in Hyde Park) will make yet another visit, probably accompanied by two more elderly campaigners, Mr Malcolm Muggeridge and Bishop Trevor Huddleston.– Jesus Invasion
– Sydney Morning Herald
Free publicity = box-office hit
The ‘white-coater’ aspect meant hardcore sex could now play on Australian screens.
However, the true legalisation of hardcore had to wait until February 1984 and the introduction of the X-rating.
February 23, 1974
After a combined total of sixteen weeks In Sydney. now exclusive to The Metro, Kings Cross, LANGUAGE OF LOVE (R).
The film that’s causing more comment than anything in years! Seen and enjoyed by more than 250.000 newly enlightened moviegoers. THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE will shock many people with Its frank depiction of everything your mother should have told you and probably didn’t.
Now in its third record month at The Metro, showing four times daily (except Sundays) at 1.00, 3.30, 6.00 and 8.30 pm.– The Metro Cinema advertisement
– Sydney Morning Herald
Sex ed. with Jim Vickers-Willis
During the initial theatrical release, Filmways combined with Jim Vickers-Willis to promote his book ARE YOU (REALLY) FUN TO LIVE WITH? (1973).
As a sex education advocate, he campaigned to get LANGUAGE OF LOVE passed by the censor.
In his autobiography, THE MAGIC OF LIFE (2005), Jim Vickers–Willis recalled his involvement with LANGUAGE OF LOVE. Initially, he made in-person introductions at each screening, which allowed him to sell ARE YOU (REALLY) FUN TO LIVE WITH. It proved unsustainable when, at its peak success, this meant eleven appearances a day. Jim had already shot a 55-second commercial for the film, so a four-minute introduction was filmed at Atlab in Sydney. It played before each screening and was added to the Video Classics releases.
He also shot a commercial for Stanley Long’s IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU (1976), a film about venereal disease. This M-rated feature failed to generate the same controversy as LANGUAGE OF LOVE. It was ignored by the media and labelled a box office failure after a brief run.
Some of his censorship battles are reproduced below. His website, vickers-willis.com [dead link], is now offline.
…at that moment to my front door came our neighbour from 4 doors away, Robert Ward, whom I had always known as a creative and enterprising film executive. He was Director of a film distribution company [Filmways], and he said: ‘I have heard about the book [ARE YOU (REALLY) FUN TO LIVE WITH] you are writing Jim, and we are trying to import a feature length sex education film which you must see.’
That’s how we were introduced to the great sex education film THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. Robert Ward said they had been trying to bring this film into Australia but it had been 3 times banned by the then (Liberal) Australian Government. He said it was a true sex education film, and it would fit in with my book.
I telephoned Dr. Oldmeadow, the President of the Marriage Guidance Council, with whom I had had several interviews, and Dr. Francis Macnab [CEO of Melbourne’s Cairnmillar Institute], and told them I had set up a screening of the sex education film, especially for them, at a theatre in Malvern.
Just our little group sat in this big empty picture theatre watching THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. I did not realize at that moment that I would subsequently watch that film more than 100 times, until I knew off by heart just about every word spoken in it.
Then began the big fight – with all of us writing to Members of Parliament, the Prime Minister, speaking on the radio and writing letters to the press. At this point, the Australian Government had changed from Liberal to the Labor Party – with Gough Whitlam in charge.
We had managed to get a good controversy going in newspapers regarding THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. Much of the comment was negative, and it was treated like a pornographic film. The trouble was that many good people were unwilling to have their name mentioned in connection with it – even though they might see the virtue of more knowledge about this subject.
Prudish ideas held sway in the community, and people were frightened that they would look silly, and their own good name would be threatened. So, although I could detect that there was a groundswell of people who felt that this was a matter of importance, there were very few who were prepared to come forward and openly support genuine comprehensive sex education for all ages.
However, a champion was to emerge:
The Labor party decided to consider lifting the ban on THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. Prime Minister Gough Whitlam convened a special screening of the film for Members of Parliament. When it was held, Senator Gair, of Queensland, walked out in the middle of the show declaring: ‘People who watch that film have sewer minds.’
Opinion was evenly divided in the Government, but eventually the ban was lifted and the great sex education film was admitted to Australia on the casting vote of the then Attorney General – Senator Lionel Murphy.
Robert Ward and his partner Mark Josem immediately set up a Theatre Managers and Press screening of THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE, in a suburban Theatre: It was a scorching hot day, and I was asked to introduce the film from the stage for these theatre executives, the press and various other visitors. The theatre was quite full.
I spoke a fifteen-minute introduction, not realizing that this was to be the first of hundreds of such introductions in theatres all around Australia.
During the show, two of my best friends, in their late forties and themselves parents of teenagers, got up in the middle of the session and walked out of the theatre in disgust at the contents of this sex education film. I found that many so-called ‘religious’ people took this attitude, but these two were not particularly religious; they were just a nice sweet couple – and the fact that even good people like this took a negative attitude towards education in this vital area of life, spurred me on.
I had been told that one of the City theatres was considering putting on THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE as an experiment.
At the end of the show, I was called down to the Manager’s room – and it turned out that a group which controlled 60 theatres wanted THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
There was just one stipulation: Jim Vickers-Willis had to do an introduction to each show.
Opening Day: The Australia Cinema, Melbourne
I spoke quite passionately for about 10 minutes, telling the audience how I had become involved, had been interviewing people over the past 7 years and had come to the conclusion that millions were missing out; that their lives could be made much healthier and happier and better focussed with accurate sex education such as provided by THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. I said I hoped that they enjoyed the film and would get something out of it.
The audience clapped as I walked back up the darkened aisle, and THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE – which some exploiting promoters overseas had used as a porno movie – at last was on the public screen, in its own right, as sex education.
There was great controversy in the media about the screening of this film – which many regarded as ‘wicked’. There were quotes from Members of Parliament. One leading Member of Parliament described it as ‘pornography’ and I know for a fact he had never seen it. Church leaders – particularly from the big churches in the City, denounced the film, and one described how he had been in the cinema toilet and overheard ‘young fellows talking about what they were going to do to girls, in very rough language.’
One Melbourne newspaper sent a team of its journalists down to comment on the film: It included a couple of older writers who had been my colleagues when I was a journalist in my young years. They delighted in taking the mickey out of me (making me look like an idiot), and, of course, were able to make great humour out of the fact that I considered present- day attitudes towards masturbation and homosexuals were ridiculous and also unfair and dangerous.
Australia wide & Queensland ban
As THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE was now set for Perth and Adelaide, I flew across there – this time with Dr. Francis Macnab.
In Perth, we went into the Channel 9 studios – and I will never forget the rumpus which was caused.
They were making the advertisements and trailers for the presentation of THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE – and the great sex education film was being shown on a multiplicity of screens throughout the main studio at Channel 9, in Perth.
On the way back from Perth, I was asked to appear in a television debate, on live television, with a well-known Adelaide psychologist who was also a Roman Catholic.
He spoke first and voiced strong opposition to THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE being opened in Adelaide. He also said that sex should only be engaged in for the procreation of children; otherwise it was a sin.
When my turn came, I explained to the television audience that THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE had been set up by the Swedish Schools Sex Education Unit – a team of doctors and psychologists and teachers – for showing to 12-year-olds in company with their teachers and parents.
As I spoke freely about its contents, the psychologist kept on interrupting me and denying what I was saying and it finished up in a real dogfight on live television.
Afterwards, the ‘phones ran hot, and I was pleased to find that 90% of the calls were in favour of us.
Back to Melbourne – where the two theatres were still packing them in – and on to Sydney…
At the Boulevard Hotel, Sydney – at the end of a day of many radio and television interviews – a newspaper reporter came up to me and said: ‘They are banning your film and book in Queensland’.
I was delighted. This could mean good publicity and so I immediately booked a flight to Queensland.
I telephoned the various television stations, radio stations and the press – and within an hour my hotel suite at Lennon’s was filled with lights and cameras and microphones.
One crew from the ABC just sat there and asked me questions for half an hour with their camera running. The answers I gave were not only included in the news services, but for about 3 years afterwards whenever there was a program about sex, there would be a segment included which was taken out of that particular filming.
This was at the height of the Bjelke Petersen reign, when marchers, protestors, etc., quite often finished up in jail. I looked into the cameras on the news services and said deliberately: ‘A good leader is a man who makes decisions and is right some- times. On this occasion Mr. Bjelke Petersen is totally wrong.’
I remember climbing aboard the ‘plane for Melbourne afterwards and feeling quite relieved that I had got out of Queensland without being arrested!
Meanwhile, the Directors of the film company had made some secret arrangements.
They announced to the Press that they were bringing THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE to Queensland on a certain date about 2 weeks ahead.
Full page advertisements were placed in the newspaper, the film was flown up to Queensland and played to packed houses.
Once it had been seen by a large number of local people, it was pretty hard for the Government or anyone else to make out that this straight, rather boring sex education film – which had been made by Sweden’s School Sex Education Dept. for showing to 12-year-olds – was in fact just cheap and nasty pornography. Various psychologists and doctors and other professionals who were in the audience on the opening night wrote to the press supporting the film. So the ban was beaten – and we also sold a lot of copies of ARE YOU (REALLY) FUN TO LIVE WITH?
THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE went on playing in various theatres around Australia for two years. I think at the time it was an all- time record run for a film that had not been made by a major movie company. The media controversy gradually died away.– The Magic of Life
– Jim Vickers–Willis
Shane Harrison reports.
I saw LANGUAGE OF LOVE when it first opened in Melbourne in 1973. Jim Vickers-Willis was there in person and came out before the film started to talk about his book, copies of which were available for sale in the foyer.
After a week or so, a film of his talk was shown before each screening. The 03:44 short is available on pink cover Video Classics release of LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
Backlash in Queensland
The release of LANGUAGE OF LOVE was the catalyst for Queensland’s ‘Films Review Bill’ which was introduced into Parliament in March 1974.
The first reading of the bill saw LANGUAGE OF LOVE namechecked numerous times. Here is a sample of the mammoth debate into what Charles Porter (Liberal) called ‘filthy films’.
March 3, 1974
Hon. H. A. McKECHNIE: As honourable members will be aware, the Government has been concerned for some time at the standard of some films being distributed in Queensland, and there is a possibility that the Commonwealth Government, which carries out film censorship on behalf of the State Government under the Censorship of Films Act, will further relax its attitude towards the type of films that it is prepared to allow into the country.
…we asked Senator Murphy for an undertaking that he would retain censorship until we had time to discuss the matter still further. We felt it was desirable that there should be uniformity within the film industry throughout Australia.
Senator Murphy said that recently in giving undertakings he had had his fingers burnt and that he could not give us an undertaking. However, he added that he would endeavour to Jive within the spirit of the conference in that censorship would be retained for the time being. We continued for some months on that basis; but, as honourable members know, Senator Murphy overrode his own censor and allowed the distribution of the film LANGUAGE OF LOVE and another film of a like nature. As a consequence, it was obvious to us that he would continue to weaken censorship still further, as he intimated at the opening speech of that conference.
Mr. BALDWIN: I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the latest film mentioned by the Minister-and it has also been mentioned in criticism of the action taken by the Commonwealth Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) – LANGUAGE OF LOVE. I have not had an opportunity to view that film.
Mr. Porter: You mean the LANGUAGE OF LUST?
Mr. BALDWIN: I am taking the advertised title. I am sure that the honourable member for Toowong would very much like to see shown around the State a film with the title he has suggested-quietly, of course, to the back-room boys.
Mr. Frawley: You are carrying a brief for Senator Murphy, and you know it.
Mr. BALDWIN: I am carrying a brief for the people of this State. As a teacher of 19 years’ experience, and a person who has studied child psychology, social psychology and education, I am in a far better position to judge than those on the other side of the Chamber who are mouthing clichés that are half a century old.
As yet I have not had an opportunity to see LANGUAGE OF LOVE, but I intend to see it as soon as I can. I did see LAST TANGO IN PARIS and THE GODFATHER. I would not have gone to those two films, and I would not be going to LANGUAGE OF LOVE, but for the great advertising of them in the newspapers and the controversy that raged in this Chamber. In that respect I am no different from the average citizen of this State. Once the elected representatives of the people of Queensland say in this Chamber that something is good or bad, and raise a hurricane about it, I, like the average person, prick up my ears, and consider that there must be something in what they say, and, again like the average citizen, along I go and view the film that has been debated. People attracted to the viewing of a film help to boost box-office takings.
The Federal Attorney-General stated quite clearly that he regarded LANGUAGE OF LOVE as an educational film. I have read Press reports about it and I have heard comments on it on the radio by women’s organisations. I am not saying that it has not occurred, but I have yet to hear or read one objection to the film. In fact, it has been praised as a highly necessary educational instrument for young and old alike.
Mr. W. D. HEWITT: What ultimately persuaded the Minister to bring the measure before the Parliament was the admission into the State of a film called the LANGUAGE OF LOVE. It is conceded that the Federal Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Murphy) overruled the advice of his department in releasing that film. His Liberal predecessor overruled the department twice. It was on the advice of Mr. Chipp that SKYJACKED, which illustrated to people in clear detail how to hijack a plane, was released, in the face of opposition from the pilots who fly the “big kites” and who have to face these situations. So Senator Murphy has done once what his predecessor did twice.
As I say, the film that brought the crunch was the LANGUAGE OF LOVE. The Minister in his judgment of the film ¬¬-and I respect his judgment- said that it destroyed a quality of life. In a later comment he said he thought the film was a bore. Having seen the film myself, I agree with his second observation; it was a bore. Mr. Lickiss, I have arrived at the melancholy conclusion that at the age of 43 there is not much left for me to learn about the subject. That was my reaction to the LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
For those who oppose the film, I think it is most important to point out two things., It had an “R” grading, so it wasn’t exactly about a Sunday-school picnic. Secondly, all its advertising specifies that it is a sex-education film. When people go to see a sex education film, they should not be too shocked when they do not find boys and girls making daisy rings. It is about something more than that. While the Minister expressed his point of view, a mother of five daughters was reported in THE AUSTRALIAN as lamenting the fact that she could not take them to see it. Hers was a different point of view, which illustrates the great area of uncertainty when one attempts to pass judgment upon films because judgment is entirely a point of view.
Mr. GUNN: I believe that the people will eventually sicken of “R” films, as the honourable member for Chatsworth said, but that is not a good enough reason for continuing to bring them in. I have not seen LANGUAGE OF LOVE but I understand that as an educational film it is hopelessly out of date; it is about as fashionable as red-flannel shirts.
Mr. Jensen: You have not seen it; what are you talking about?
Mr. GUNN: I have read about it. I read the newspapers. I cannot help it if the honourable member for Bundaberg does not read the newspapers. I do and, in addition to reading a resume of the film, I read that it was in bond for 10 years before being released. Therefore, I cannot see that it has any value as a sex-education film.
Mr. GUNN: That may be so; medicine has changed quite a bit.
Mr. Row: The honourable member for Bundaberg only went to see it because it was free.
Mr. GUNN: I did hear rumours that there were a few free passes and that the honourable member for Bundaberg was the first in the queue.
Mr. JENSEN: I rise to a point of order. That is a deliberate misstatement. I paid my $2.50 to see it. I did not know it was free until Country Party members told me the next day.
Mr. GUNN: If people want sex education, other sources available. While on the subject- I think it is necessary to give sex education in schools; but I cannot see the need for lessons on human anatomy, reproductive organs and copulation in films screened in theatres. They are shown for the express purpose of making money. They are a novelty for a time but eventually the public will get sick of them.
However, one type of person can be corrupted by the screening of such material. ! am thinking of the young person who is not mentally 100 per cent and who after seeing sex films tries to emulate the actors and, quite often, finishes up in court on a rape charge. This is a very serious matter. I venture to suggest that many youths who commit rape were stirred into action by “R” films.
Hon. H. A. McKECHNIE: Whilst Ministers were uneasy with Senator Murphy’s management of censorship, in the interests of uniformity throughout Australia we were prepared to grit our teeth and go along with him. We said that that is what we would endeavour to do until he ceased to live by the spirit of the agreement reached with him last year in Canberra.
As honourable members know, he eventually overruled his censorship board of nine. He declared that LANGUAGE OF LOVE should be made available to !he public, and he insisted that the censorship board apply an “R” classification to it. Films without classification remain in bond, and are held against entry to this country on a commercial scale.
Consequently, when that happened, and in the light of the fact that the Government was not really happy about the quality of films that had been received to that stage, it decided to take action, and thousands of people throughout Queensland wrote asking that action be taken. That is why this proposal is before the Committee today.
I had discussions with Mr. Ron Grimstone, the President of the Motion Picture Exhibitors Association in Queensland, and I say quite candidly that he and his association are opposed to a Films Board of Review. I promised Mr. Grimstone that I would make that statement in the Chamber. He said he believed that the members of the association could censor the films themselves. In fairness to that genuine man and his association, I must say that they tried. However, as the honourable member for Windsor said a short while ago, one of the exhibitors broke the code to gain an advantage over his fellows with LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
Although I admired their endeavours to impose their own censorship, I had already warned them that it was inevitable that somebody would break the code, and broken it was. That strengthened my resolve that the establishment of a Films Board of Review should proceed.
Mr. Bromley: Did you see LANGUAGE OF LOVE?
Mr. McKECHNIE: I saw it at its premiere in Melbourne last year.
Mr. Bromley: You did not make any public comment then, did you?
Mr. McKECHNIE: Yes, but I did not elaborate because I do not think any one person should be a censor or inflict his views on others. That is why I believe a Films Board of Review should be established, and by interjection I gave the honourable member for Barron River an undertaking that it would be as fair a board as it is humanly possible to achieve. Of course the Bill says that there shall be a balance between sexes and ages on the board.– Films Review Bill
– Henry McKechnie (Country/National), Ted Baldwin (Labor)
– Charles Porter (Liberal), Des Frawley (Country/National)
– Bill Hewitt (Liberal), Bill Gunn (Country/National)
– Ted Row (Country/National), Lou Jensen (Labor), Fred Bromley (Labor)
– QLD Legislative Assembly
The second and third readings saw the bill passed.
April 4, 1974
Hon. H. A. McKECHNIE: We are all well aware of the present A.L.P. Government’s policy of admitting all films into Australia. Senator Murphy, by overruling his Censorship Board, has begun the implementation of that policy. This is the possibility with which we are vitally concerned and this is the reason the Films Board of Review is necessary. Some honourable members opposite claimed that the Films Board of Review is being instituted for political advantage by the Government, and that the majority of Queenslanders were opposed to the formation of the board. Both statements cannot be true, because if the majority are opposed to it there cannot be any political advantage.
Mr. BALDWIN: It is unfortunate that education films on the physiology and psychology of sex, where these were to be exhibited generally, were not specifically catered for in the original Commonwealth Act, simply because, as must be obvious to members, they hardly existed in 1947. In the same way, one could say that they were not shown on Australian television at that time, either. Nor are they catered for in the Bill now before the House.
In general, I would say that the Bill does not go beyond anything that is already contained in the Commonwealth Act in the matter of looking to the education of the people of this State by films.
It was that omission, of course, that caused the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, to take the action that he did on the film LANGUAGE OF LOVE and override the Chief Censor. However, as other honourable members have pointed out, Senator Murphy’s predecessor…overrode the censor twice as much. Evidently because he was Mr. Chipp, with a good old English Tory tie and name and Minister in a Tory Government, this hypocritical Government and the Minister in charge of the Bill, and those honourable members opposite who bolster him in this attitude, thought that that was quite all right. Therefore, on that evidence alone, I have ample ground for saying that this is a party-politically instigated piece of legislation.– Films Review Bill
– Henry McKechnie (Country/National), Ted Baldwin (Labor)
– QLD Legislative Assembly
Don Chipp (Liberal) overrode the decision of the Film Censorship Board not twice but three times. The cases were PERCY (1971), THE DEVILS (1971), SKYJACKED (1972).
Queensland’s Films Board of Review began in May 1974 and ran until 1990, when it was closed by the Goss Labor Government. During that time, over 350 films were prohibited in the State.
Warnings & Attorney-General interventions
Chief Censor Richard Prowse and Janet Strickland both commented on the practice of adding warnings to films.
CP – How effective are the warnings on films like THE DEVILS, LANGUAGE OF LOVE and MAN FROM DEEP RIVER?
RP – Well I don’t think we put a warning on [MAN FROM] DEEP RIVER, it must have been an importer’s warning. We put a warning on THE DEVILS following a specific direction from the then Minister, and we put a warning on LANGUAGE OF LOVE following a specific direction by the Attorney-General.
As to whether we should use warnings over and above the classification is a quite thorny problem and we are currently exploring it. As I see it, it would need an amendment to State legislation to give some force to the warnings. If we just start putting warnings on films nobody would know whether it was our warning or the importer’s warning and the importer might use a warning as a gimmick to boost the sales of his film.– The Censor Speaks, Richard Prowse, Chief Censor
– Cinema Papers No. 2
The only higher appeal [than the Films Board of Review] is that direct to the Minister (the Attorney-General of Australia) —and he may intervene under Regulation 40 of the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations.
Since January 1971, there have been four [PERCY (1971), THE DEVILS (1971), SKYJACKED (1972), and LANGUAGE OF LOVE (1969)] Ministerial interventions under this regulation:
(d) LANGUAGE OF LOVE August 2, 1973: The Minister (Mr Lionel Murphy) directs that the film be registered and that all publicity material carry the words “this is a sex education film.”
Problematic Trends – Warnings
The idea of warnings has been widely canvassed for some time. It is thought, by some, that warnings should be attached to films which are particularly violent, sexually graphic, linguistically crude etc.
However, our Board and many state officials involved in censorship decisions and policy believe that although the idea is sound, implementation would be difficult, unless new legislation were introduced prohibiting the use of these warnings in a sensationalistic and exploitative way. If warnings were exploited, the point of the exercise would be reversed, attention would be drawn to these films and warnings could be used as an advertising gimmick.– How Australian Film Censorship Works
– Janet Strickland, Deputy-Chief Censor
– Cinema Papers No. 11
LANGUAGE OF LOVE was one of the pivotal films in the early days of the R-rating and would continue to play for several years.
LANGUAGE OF LOVE became one of the earliest titles on the Video Classics label. The first appeared in 1980, packaged in a black cardboard slipcase with the following warning on the cover.
1980– Video Classics cover
‘Is it filth or is it education?’
Close-Ups of male and female genitals and love making were banned in Australia for many years. The ban was over ruled by the then Attorney General Senator Murphy who gave it an R-rating. If you prefer to make up your own mind about what you see, then this is the film for you.
R, 103 Minutes. Colour, Adults Only.
The second tape was issued around 1982.
Their third and final tape lists it as PART 1. The reissue of MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE (1970) was named PART 2.
The third Video Classics release runs 102:37. The print is heavily damaged. It includes the 03:44 lecture by Jim Vickers-Willis.
Compulsory video classification arrived in February 1984. Only then were these 103-minute Video Classics tapes confirmed with R-ratings.
Presumably, all Video Classics releases are the same. In his autobiography, Jim Vickers–Willis claims they are censored.
I were invited to a Convention holiday centre to spend the weekend with the 700-plus members – giving a talk, opening a big discussion and screening THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE sex education film.
In one part of the movie, the young male actor gets on top of his girl, puts his penis inside her, enjoys himself for a few moments, then rolls over and goes to sleep. The girl’s comment in the morning ‘It wasn’t much fun for me’.
In THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE film, the young man then wakes up to himself: next time he does much preliminary love-making to turn his girl on, taking time to stimulate her including tenderly licking (the tongue being the most gentle means) and kissing her vagina. He makes love to her, she enjoys it – and they live happily ever after.
Unknown to me, the censor of this particular issue of the film apparently did not approve of the love-making, kissing and licking the vagina and he cut it out!
So when I publicly presented that film in front of the 700 people, the young man hopped on the girl and then hopped off her – and she was in tears. Then he hopped on her again and hopped straight off – and she was smiling with happiness.
I then discovered that this home entertainment version of THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE – the version which would undoubtedly be seen by vast numbers of young people – had had this vital piece of sexual education material censored out.– The Magic of Life
– Jim Vickers–Willis
So how explicit is it?
Revelation Films (uk) – DVD – 102:50
A good proportion of the film shows Inge and Sten Hegeler, Dr Maj-Brigt Bergstrom-Walan and a Swedish gynecologist called Dr Sture Cullhed sitting in a living room discussing various aspects of sex. This is intercut with scenes of actors demonstrating some of the topics. Most of the sex is softcore, but several sequences are more explicit.
23:00 – Close up female masturbation.
53:00 – A naked couple is shown on a bed. Mutual masturbation takes place, followed by a brief close-up shot of penetration. Presumably, this is the scene Jim Vickers-Willis said was censored in the Video Classics tapes.
74:00 – Dr Sture Cullhed is shown inserting a contraceptive diaphragm and then a coil.
90:00 – Images are shown from hardcore porn magazines.
More About the Language of Love
aka More Language of Love
aka More About Language of Love
Directed by Torgny Wickman / 1970 / Sweden – Denmark / IMDb
In his autobiography, Jim Vickers-Wills went into the background of the follow-up to LANGUAGE OF LOVE (1969). The Australian cut is unique and reportedly contains an introduction by Maj-Brith Bergström-Walan.
Then came the sequel film, MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE – and this was produced by joining up two sex information films that (so far as I can gather) had been largely screened overseas as pornography. We cut some bits out of each film and I wrote five scripts explaining what was going on, so that people would understand the significance from the point of view of sexual education.
These scripts were flown across to Sweden and were spoken on to the film by Dr. Maj Briht Bergstrom-Walan, who for more than 20 years had been head of the Swedish School Sex Education Program.
When Dr.Maj Briht’s serious, clinical face came onto the screen reading my scripts in all sorts of important parts of the film MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE, it was very hard for even the most diehard prude to classify this as pornography.– The Magic of Life
– Jim Vickers–Willis
In September 1974, Filmways brought Dr. Maj-Brith Bergström-Walan to Australia. She was here to talk about her role in MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE and to apply pressure to get it past the Censorship Board.
September 4, 1974
Mal-Briht (pronounced Mai-Britt) arrived in Melbourne yesterday as Doctor Bergstrom-Walan, the Bergstrom from the husband she divorced and the Doctor title from her psychology degree, backed by midwifery and school teacher qualifications.
Sweden appointed her its first supervisor of the compulsory sex education introduced to its schools in 1956.
No other country has followed Sweden’s lead but she hopes to see Australia adopt compulsory sex education in schools in time to send teachers to the third world seminar on sex education that she will host in Sweden in 1976.
“I bring Canberra the message that every person has his and her right to get sex education.” proclaimed the doctor right, at the Southern Cross Hotel yesterday). “There is no right to escape giving our children sex education.”
Dr. Beigstrom-Valan is 49, a petite, missioner standing barely five feet tall in her schoolgirl slip-on shoes with gold buckles. Her cropped hair suits her. “What shocks me?” she told the Press at the Southern Cross Hotel’s Australia Room, “When people hurt one another in sex life. That shocks me.”
Sweden’s soothsayer of sex saw some good in pornography to liven dull marriage partners “if you have nothing else to fall back on”.
But in the good relationship, “when the love is there and variation, enjoyable nights together, I can’t see why they need pornography”.
Dr. Bergstrom-Walan’s visit was sponsored by the distributors of the film LANGUAGE OF LOVE”, which she says would put small children to sleep with all the talking in it.
She was responsible for the film, asserts it is a “real and pure sexual education” film, and accepts that someone is making money just as long as she gives out the message.
She visualises the Australian school courses delivered by ordinary high school teachers who are first given a course, and which would have gynaecologists, lawyers and other specialists giving lectures.
“I hope they listen to me in Canberra.” said the earnest Swede. “If not, I will come again. I have patience.”
On her way out of the press conference she shook hands with the chairman of the Festival of Light (Mr. Dirk Bakker), who was brought along by the 24 Hours television team to put an op-position case.
“I agree there is a need, a vacuum,” Mr. Bakker said. “Parents should be enabled to teach children sex them-selves, keep it in the family.”
Mr. Bakker presented himself to the visitor as “a moral crusader”. So is she.– She is missionary of sex education
– The Age
September 10, 1974
“There is no right to escape giving sex education to children,” according to Dr M. B. Bergstrom-Walan.
Dr Maj-Briht (pronounced May-Britt) Bergstrom-Walan introduced solemnly as “the greatest sex authority in the world by the distributor of her R-rated film LANGUAGE OF LOVE, arrived in Sydney yesterday.
She is on her way to Canberra to convince the Government there is nothing immoral about her sequel to the film, MORE FROM THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE.
Today she will meet Senator Murphy (who allowed LANGUAGE OF LOVE be released after banning by the previous Liberal Government) and the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Women’s Affairs, Miss Elizabeth Reid.
“I will try to say, that I think the follow-up to the LANGUAGE OF LOVE should be seen by young people front the age of 16 instead of 18, and that every person has a right to sex education,” Sweden’s soothsayer of sex announced to the press at the Wentworth Hotel.
Dr Bergstrom-Walan (the Bergstrom from the husband she divorced three years ago and refuses to discuss, and title doctor title from her psychology degree, backed by midwifery and school teacher qualifications) has also been invited to address the Federal Government’s inquiry into sex education.
She will also give a lecture at the Australian National University and appear on Mrs Whitlam’s television show.
Dr Bergstrom-Walan usually sees both partners and believes that sex education is mostly the key to a better life and that many of the problems she encounters are due to ignorance, and an inhibited, guilt-ridden background—for which she blames the Christian Church.
“You might as well say people should not feel guilty if they eat and drink — sex is something natural in life,” she argues.
Her visit (which has extended to three weeks from the planned 10 days) was sponsored by the Melbourne-based distributors of LANGUAGE OF LOVE who hope to import the sequel censors and Senator Murphy permitting.
“MORE FROM LANGUAGE OF LOVE is a little more advanced…it shows female homosexuality, a little bit of pornography, bow you treat people with sexual disturbances and there is also a little bit of people in community living.” she said earnestly.
She was responsible for the film, stresses it is a “sex-education film” and hopes it will be passed by the censor.
“But I think Australia’s attitude to sex education is becoming more liberated,” she added hopefully.– LANGUAGE OF LOVE Doctor here to promote film
– Sydney Morning Herald
She would later appear in the Australian ‘white coater’, THE ABC OF LOVE AND SEX: AUSTRALIA STYLE (1978).
A confident Filmways
CP – Have Filmways got any other films that they consider sufficiently artistic to be unsuitable for the Star or the Albany, but which are encountering censorship problems?
RW – No. We do have NOTORIOUS CLEOPATRA, COUNTRY CUZZINS and THE SINFUL DWARF from Harry Novak banned. They are probably a little bit above the Star, probably Roma material.
CP – Is Filmways fighting these decisions?
RW – Not really, what can you do to fight? LANGUAGE OF LOVE was an intelligent medical film that you can fight on appeal constructively, but these?
CP – What about the LANGUAGE OF LOVE sequel? Do you predict that it will be passed by the censor?
RW – Yes. I think the Censorship Board now realizes that there is an area of film type which can be regarded as sex education films.– Robert Ward, Dendy Filmways
– Cinema Papers No. 4
Uncut on appeal
When the Censorship Board did view MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE, they demanded cuts to the 2863.90-meter (104:23) print before they would award it an R-rating.
A successful appeal to the Films Board of Review, in December 1974, saw them ‘Register film “For Restricted Exhibition” without eliminations’.
In both cases, the applicant was Filmways.
How the Films Board of Review works
In early 1974, the Chief Censor explained the process for getting a decision reviewed. It is worth noting that the decision to pass MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE was unusual. At the time, the Films Board of Review would usually uphold the decision of the Censorship Board.
CP – What is the procedure on the Board of Review?
RP – Well, it is very similar to ours except they put in an appeal against the decision of my board, be it an elimination, be it a classification, be it a rejection.
Any decision we make can be appealed against. They meet as a board, the same as we do, and screen that film.
They are a higher board than this one and if they make a decision I am required to give effect to that decision. If they alter our decision that alteration is made.
CP – When a person appeals against a decision is it sufficient basis for appeal to cite another example?
RP – This is sometimes used as a ground for appeal but I don’t know whether it is a really valid ground. After all every film is a single unity, a single thing and as I said earlier when we were talking on films of merit versus straight out sexploitation material, because a particular scene could be left in one film there is no reason that a similar scene should be left in another film.
Similarly really coarse language might be acceptable in one film but be looked at with a jaundiced eye in a film of another type even though the words are exactly the same.
CP – Looking through the censorship bulletins that have been printed, there seems to be a fair number of films appealed against which are upheld or to which some changes are made. What are your feelings about that?
RP – I think that the board of review is set up, and as its name implies, to review the decisions of another decision making body and I think it is only right and proper that there should be an appeal provision.
You must remember that a majority rules on my board and it rules on their board too, and if I put for example the full board on a particular film it might have come out five-four on the particular decision given. Well it is obvious that there is scope for a change of decision if five different intelligent people sit down and view that film. I doubt that at any time when we had a seven member board, we would have had a unanimous decision that had been upset.
The Review Board can also order cuts. We might reject a film, for example, and the Board of Review comes up with a decision which says the board considers the film could be registered R subject to the importer agreeing to certain limitations. Well, in fact, that is dismissing the appeal because they are agreeing with us that in its present form it should not be registered but they are going even further than us and saying well subject to certain things happening we think it could be registered.
CP – Can the Board of Review demand more cuts or request a higher classification than you have allocated?
RP – They could.
CP – Has it ever occurred?
RP – No.
CP – Does that Review Board attempt to get a different type of board member than you would choose for yours?
RP – No, except that it must be remembered that they are only a part time board and only meet once a week or once every three weeks. All the members of that board are engaged in other pursuits, and are possibly a different type to those sitting on this board.
CP – Do you think that Board by not seeing as many films as you, would have a more general public view? You must see a-lot of violence and so forth and this must have a big influence on you when you see a violent film, or something, whereas they wouldn’t have that history with them. They therefore perhaps go with more the view of a person who goes to the cinema only once in a while.
RP – I think this is the sort of philosophical discussion that should be carried out with the Board of Review and not me. I could comment on it but I wouldn’t.
CP – Can you comment about yourself?
RP – Well, what we often discuss at board meetings is whether, for example, we do become hardened to violence, whether it upsets our objectivity and we can’t come up with a clear cut answer. Sometimes we think it does because we have discussed particular cases where a board member may have been subjected to three particularly violent films one after the other and they have admitted that the third one didn’t seem nearly as violent as the first one.
So I suppose you can say that you do become immune to it in a way but this is one reason why we rotate our board members right through the television field and through the theatrical field. If there is a really good film of no censorial problem we see if it is possible to let board members sit in there and forget their problems, to go and look at a film just for the sake of looking at it. This rotation of board members so they are never watching the same type of programme all the time we feel is one way we can alleviate this possible build up inside.– The Censor Speaks, Richard Prowse, Chief Censor
– Cinema Papers No. 2
Banned in Queensland
On 2 September 1976, the R-rated version of MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE was prohibited by the Queensland Films Board of Review.
The distributor was Filmways Australasian Distributors.
MORE ABOUT THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE was released at least twice by Video Classics.
The first was part of their ‘Adults only’ range, with a cover that shortened the title to MORE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. It also noted:
1981– Video Classics cover
Warning: The Chief Film Censor has classified this film R, subject to the notation ‘this is a sex education film’.
It appears to be the warning that the Censorship Board demanded to be attached to the original film. There is no indication that it was required for the sequel and was presumably added to help promotion.
The second tape cover titles it MORE ABOUT LANGUAGE OF LOVE and adds PART 2 to the cover. Again, it included the Chief Film Censor’s warning. LANGUAGE OF LOVE (1969) was reissued as PART 1.
Compulsory video classification was not introduced until February 1984. It was only then that these tapes began to be reviewed.
In July 1984, Video Classics had a 101-minute version passed with the newly introduced X-rating.
This was followed in April 1986 by an R-rating for another 101-minute tape.
It was awarded for sex, which was described as being:
…and also for
Other: Sex Education
In this case, the applicant was the South Australian Government. This was presumably a copy of the Video Classics tapes.
MERA UR KÄRLEKENS SPRÅK – Swedish version – 93:20
The sequel is more graphic than LANGUAGE OF LOVE (1969) but fits more easily into ‘white coater’ territory. The sex appears uncut, despite running 10-minutes shorter than the Australian version.
This time, the explicit footage includes a homosexual blow job (11:00), lesbian sex (21:00), close-up male and female examinations for gonorrhoea and the correct way to wash the genitals (30:00 and 37:00) and a sex education class for blind students where they touch a naked man and woman (44:00).
At 64:00, it becomes more of an exploitation film with a visit to the offices of Private Magazine. Their editorial meeting provides numerous opportunities to show hardcore images, as does a visit to a porn film set (68:00) and a Danish porn store and live sex show (71:00).
The final sex scene ends the film with hardcore oral sex and penetration (87:00).
The Lustful Vicar
Directed by Torgny Wickman / Sweden / 1970 / IMDb
In January 1972, an 8360-feet (92:53) print of THE LUSTFUL VICAR was banned because of ‘indecency’.
The following month, the Film Board of Review upheld the decision.
The applicant in both cases was Blake Films.
In March 1974, a censored 2479.80-meter (90:23) print was passed with an R-rating. The Censorship Board described it as being an ‘English dubbed version’.
The submission and eventual theatrical release were from Filmways.
Fear Has 1000 Eyes
Directed by Torgny Wickman / 1970 / Sweden / IMDb
In March 1972, a 9679-feet (107:32) print of FEAR HAS 1000 EYES was passed with an R-rating following the removal of 76-feet (00:50) of footage. The cuts were made to remove ‘indecency’.
This was followed in September 1972 by a shorter 2733.75-meter (99:39) print that was described as being the ‘English dubbed version’. Like the original submission, it lost 23.16-meter (00:50) of ‘indecency’ before the R-rating was awarded.
Blake Films was the applicant in both cases.
Directed by Torgny Wickman / 1973 / Sweden – France / IMDb
In July 1974, a 2836.00-meter (103:22) print of ANITA was censored by 8.53-meters (00:19) for an R-rating. The reason for the cuts was ‘indecency’.
Roadshow Film Distributors was the applicant.
In November 1989, Video Excellence had an 88-minute tape passed with an R (Occasional sexual scenes) rating.
The OFLC awarded it for sex, which was described as being:
A no-name label VHS of ANITA was released in the 1990s.
The cover and the fake R (Completely concerned with sex) rating were designed to make it appear to be an adult film. This tape ran 87:57.
Let Us Play Sex
Directed by Torgny Wickman / 1974 / Sweden / IMDb
In January 1977, a 2276.69-meter (82:59) print of LET US PLAY SEX was censored by 66.40-meters (02:25) for an R-rating. The cuts were made to remove ‘indecency’.
Filmways was the applicant.
In January 1983, Filmways had an 81-minute video of LET US PLAY SEX passed with the Special Condition ‘that this film/tape will not be exhibited in any State in contravention of State’s law relating to the exhibition of films’.
This tape does not appear to have been released.