By Helen Cox
New Empress Magazine has been in talks with the BBFC this week after several readers posed questions over their refusal to classify The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). Since the BBFC announcement on the 6th of June that they had rejected the DVD the distributors (Bounty Films and UK distribution partner Eureka Entertainments Ltd) have appealed the decision, dramatically escalating the situation on a legal level. Although it is completely understandable that film producers wish to fight for artistic freedom the BBFC are now in a position where they are unable to further defend the decision they have made. Anything they do say may be used in the hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
The BBFC’s key reservation about The Human Centipede II appears to be the explicit link made between sexual violence and sexual arousal. Not only does The Human Centipede II focus on explicitly brutal sexual fantasies but, in the opinion of the BBFC, it also violates the Obscene Publications Acts of 1959 and 1964. The wording of these acts is somewhat old-fashioned but the general gist is that classification should not be given to materials that are likely to harm a significant proportion of the people who watch them.
A further complaint has been brought against the BBFC by the film’s director, Tom Six, who is unhappy with the level of detail the BBFC provided about the film in their press materials. Six even suggested that the details the BBFC gave in justifying their decision may have harmed their appeal. This is an understandable viewpoint from Six’s perspective; effectively the BBFC press release reads a lot like an unsexy film trailer. The fact remains however that film followers across the globe do demand a rationale behind these decisions and the BBFC need to be able to make reference to particular elements of the film that they deem unsuitable.
The BBFC did hold discussions on whether or not it would be possible to cut The Human Centipede but conceded that doing so wouldn’t leave a lot of film as the narrative is so focused on sexually violent acts. The amusement the central character finds in the degradation and mutilation of other people was also deemed too explicit for a restricted 18 rating.
The hearing is unlikely to be a quick process and thus fans interested in judging the film for themselves maybe interested to learn that the BBFC ban only legally applies to DVD and similar recordings. Authority over public exhibitions still rests with local councils and consequently a letter to an independent cinema near you and your local authority may well result in a screening of the film. This is particularly the case if you are writing in intimidating enough numbers. Think back to the James Spader vehicle (ha ha) Crash (1996) which was actually passed by the BBFC but banned by Westminster Council.
This action may help to dilute some of the frustration felt by fans who feel they have the right, as adults, to choose what they view. The only slight issue with The Human Centipede II is that there is a potential for police presence at any such screenings as the BBFC do deem this film to breach the Obscene Publications Act. Nobody has ever been successfully sued on these grounds but it is an important consideration if you’re seriously intending on approaching your council about a screening of this film.