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The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has changed the age ratings of several classic movies from PG to 12A. The board says the tighter classifications have been put in place “to ensure policies remain in step with parental expectations and societal standards”.
A PG rating says a film should not unsettle a child aged around eight or older, while 12A recommends children under 12 should not watch without being accompanied by an adult.
Of 93 complaints made to BBFC in 2020, 27 were about Flash Gordon’s 40th anniversary re-release.
The re-release was reclassified up to 12A due to the inclusion of “discriminatory stereotypes”.
The BBFC did not specify what the stereotypes were. However, Flash Gordon’s main villain, Ming the Merciless, was of Asian appearance but played by Swedish-French actor Max von Sydow.
Boxing classic Rocky, which was rated PG for its 1976 release, has now been rated a 12A for “moderate violence, mouthed strong language and domestic abuse”.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back has been given a new PG rating from U, for “moderate violence and mild threat”.
The extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was also moved to 12A for “moderate fantasy violence and threat”.
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The Elephant Man had its rating tightened due to “moderate threat, upsetting scenes and injury detail” and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was classified from a U to PG for “moderate violence and mild threat”.
BBFC chief executive David Austin said: “We talk to over 10,000 people every four-five years to revise our Classification Guidelines.
“As a result of changing standards in society, it is not infrequent that a distributor will submit something to us that we have classified in the past, but which we need to take a fresh look at under our current guidelines.
“The issue of discrimination is one of the core issues set out in our guidelines, and in 2020, the tragic death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests showed how important it is that discrimination be tackled and flagged up wherever it occurs.”
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