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Film Board To Re-Classify “Irreversible” Anal Rape


Press Release 22 October 2004

Film Board To Re-Classify “Irreversible” Anal Rape-Revenge Shocker

The Society made its oral submission on 21 October to the nine-member Film and Literature Board of Review to have the R18 French film “Irreversible” banned or significantly cut. Board members had viewed the film that contains a nine-minute brutal anal rape scene and gratuitous ultra-violence, prior to the meeting. The Board’s consideration of the film’s classification comes three months after the Society applied to the Secretary of Internal Affairs on 30 July 2004 seeking leave to have the classification reviewed. The application was made the day after the film was classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC). Leave was granted shortly afterwards and the Society made its application for review to the Board on 5 August 2004, the day the film started screening at the Rialto Cinemas in Auckland and Wellington.

The film was deliberately screened well before the classification decision was scheduled to be published in the List of Decisions on 13 August 2004, thereby making an absolute mockery of the review process as set out under s. 47 of the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“the Act”). This has never happened before for any restricted film as far as the Society’s investigations have determined.

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The Society’s application for an interim restriction order against “Irreversible” was submitted to the Board president on 5 August 2004. The Society’s executive was sickened by the tardy response of the Board president, Ms Claudia Elliott, who refused to grant any order and therefore allowed the film to be screened in three main cities up to four times a day at individual cinemas, until its season was complete. During its screening run the Society was forced to seek two separate judicial reviews of the President’s decision blocking the injunctions it had sought. Both High Court reviews upheld the Society’s case that the president’s decisions to not grant an injunction contained legal errors.

Irreversible carries a censor’s descriptive warning note issued by the OFLC: “Brutal sexual violence, graphic violence and sex scenes”. The Office’s report “strongly recommends that exhibitors provide telephone numbers for Rape Crisis and sexual abuse services at the end of the film”.

Mr Lane pointed out to the Board that members of the Independent Rape Crisis (Wellington) which viewed the movie at the OFLC by invitation on Tuesday 11 March 2003 as a commissioned consultant, submitted a report on it to the OFLC, calling for the rape scene to be edited. It stated:

“Editing – the rape scene: The editing should therefore be concerned only with eradicating the eroticism and sexualized objectification of the rape victim, WHICH TENDS TO PROMOTE SEXUAL VIOLENCE… [The] theme of male domination is disturbingly run throughout the movie, so any reference to it in the rape scene should be eradicated.” [Emphasis added]

“This concern is reinforced by the comments of the Director himself that he had to hold the camera on the floor to avoid getting aroused and having consequent movement of the camera. If this is the case, it is imperative not to support this arousal for other male audience members….”

“One member argued that “a substantial part of the rape scene should be edited, as 9 minutes is not needed to get the message across of how awful rape is … the middle section of the scene is gratuitous and completely unnecessary and should therefore be cut.”

“Editing – violence/murder scene.”

“Three members were unanimous in concluding that the scene should be cut.” They found it “completely objectionable” due to “the comment and value attachment that the film made on the violence and the revenge…It is completely socially irresponsible and not at all in the interests of the public good that the film go further than that and surround the murder/revenge with attitudes of approval, awe, encouragement and glorification.”

As noted one of the film’s most controversial scenes involve a nine-minute depiction of the brutal anal rape of a pregnant young woman by a drug-crazed homosexual and her subsequent viscous beating by the rapist that leaves her comotosed. Another shocker is the graphic depiction of the vicious murder of a homosexual by a man who beats his skull to pulp using a fire extinguisher, while a group of homosexual men look on gaining sexual satisfaction from the crime (evidenced by one man masturbating while watching the murder). The film is replete with obscenities and misogynistic language. Cinema audiences have been sickened by the film and at its screenings at the 2002 Cannes Festival over 200 walked out while many required medical assistance.

The Society is very concerned that the current classification of this 35 mm film will impact on the future classification of the video and/or DVD version of the film. It also sends a clear message to television broadcasters, who are already able to legally screen R18 films containing brutal sexual violence during so-called adult time-slots, that this film is perfectly acceptable as challenging film worthy of broadcast. Infringements of the Broadcasting Code can only be dealt with after a film is broadcast on television by way of the public making a complaint to the broadcaster which can be subsequently be dealt with by the Broadcasting Standards Authority. TV One has already screened excerpts of “Irreversible” from the lead-up to the rape, on late night television in 2003.


Delay Promotes ''Irreversible'' Anal Rape
6th September 2004, 4:58 PM The Society’s submission to the Board can be accessed at:

TVNZ Producer did breach law by screening “Irreversible”

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