Film, TV and the Arts

Film, TV and the Arts

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Human Centipede Banning Saga has been a Farce

Film takes 32 cuts to receive 18 certificate, and whips up its publicity in the process

There is something hugely appropriate that the premise of The Human Centipede involves people excreting and eating shit. I say this not as a criticism of the film as I have never stoked up the courage to watch the film. I say this as a comment on the ridiculous media posing which has accompanied the upcoming release of the second film, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence). The film’s makers have been churning out excrement, and now we’re being asked whether or not we’d like to eat it.

The plot of the film is that a loner watches the first film, The Human Centipede (First Sequence), and is inspired to conjoin 12 people into a centipede. The film was initially banned by the BBFC (The British Board of Film Classification), on the grounds “that the explicit presentation of the central character’s obsessive sexually violent fantasies is in breach of [the BBFC’s] Classification Guidelines and poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.” You can read the full reasoning here, but it is grim reading.

Also on that link is the response of the film’s director, Tom Six, in which he railed at the BBFC for putting spoilers of his film in their full report, which is rather unavoidable for the Board, and he ignored the fact that the BBFC is only abiding by the law, though he, quite rightly, said that it should be down to adults to decide what they do and don’t watch.

Now, however, despite people saying that it couldn’t be done, the film has received an 18 certificate after having 32 cuts amounting to 2 minutes and 37 seconds in total. So, everybody’s happy.

But, frankly, this was a farce from start to finish. The film’s plot summary is deeply twisted and disturbing, and the makers knew that they must have been sailing pretty close to the wind. The film’s initial failure to be classified has been milked for all it was worth.

The film’s distributor, Eureka, has said “We are really pleased that after nearly 4 months of detailed discussion and debate, we have been able to reach an agreement with the BBFC and to produce a very viable cut of the film which will both excite and challenge its fans. Naturally we have a slight disappointment that we have had to make cuts, but we feel that the storyline has not been compromised and the level of horror has been sustained.”

Perhaps I am being cynical, but I don’t think they’re disappointed by it at all. This was never about art. This has always been about money, and this farrago has given the film publicity it frankly does not need or deserve. There was never any question that they would have sought cuts, and now they even get to pose as suffering artists. All of which is thoroughly irksome.

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