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Ed Vaizey: Councils could tighten classification of Batman movie

Dark_knight_onesheet795949 In a letter to yesterday's Times Iain Duncan Smith worried that the classification for Batman, The Dark Knight was too permissive:

"I was astonished that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) could have seen fit to allow anyone under the age of 15 to watch the film. Unlike past Batman films where the villains were somewhat surreal and comical figures, Heath Ledger’s Joker is a brilliantly acted but very credible psychopathic killer, who extols the use of knives to kill and disfigure his victims, during a reign of urban terrorism, laced with torture. It is a relentlessly violent film, filled with dark themes, and as I left I wondered what the board could possibly have been thinking."

Like ConservativeHome's Editor, IDS enjoyed the film. But his view that the film is too violent for 12-year-olds is shared by Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Cttee, and the Daily Mail.  This is the Mail's verdict today:

"At the start of the film, one character is terrorised, when a grenade is put into his mouth. Later, a man's eye is viciously jabbed out with a pencil. In another scene, the Joker boasts that he enjoys killing with a knife, because it takes his victims longer to die. This is dark, dark material indeed. Yet this is the film the British Board of Film Classification has given a 12A rating, which means it is considered quite suitable even for young children, if they are accompanied by an adult. Children over 12, of course, can see it on their own."

ConservativeHome has just been speaking to Shadow Culture Minister Ed Vaizey and he reminds us that local authorities have the power to tighten classifications if they so wish:

"I think the BBFC do very good and important work but I was surprised having seen and enjoyed The Dark Knight that it was a 12a and not a 15.  The film contains violent and disturbing scenes, even though it's a brilliant movie.  We should remember that BBFC classifications are only advisory and local authorities are ultimately responsible for classifications.  It would be interesting to see if any local authorities wish to use their powers for this and future films."


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