BBFC lets 12 year olds see King George VI swearing
The British Board of Film Classification has reconsidered the 15 certificate it gave Colin Firth’s LFF-premiered film The King’s Speech after an appeal from the film-maker and decided that it should be a 12A.
The film – directed by Tom Hooper – tells the story of how the young King George VI (Colin Firth) has sessions with an Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) to try to get over a debilitating stammer, in the early years of broadcasting. During the sessions, Logue realises that when King George gets angry, he doesn’t stammer, so to prove that he can overcome his problem, Logue gets the King to shout expletives.
At first watch, the BBFC concluded that there was too much strong language for a 12A certificate and granted a 15 instead.
At a news conference to promote the film at the London Film Festival, the director said he was bemused at the decision to stop under-fifteens seeing a film about a King overcoming a stammer, when they were allowed to see films portraying violence, such as Salt and Quantum of Solace.
Helena Bonham Carter said you’d hear worse language at a football match and Firth said he’d like to meet the people who complain about bad language before they complain about violence.
The cast and crew acknowledged that there was some bad language in the film, but they insisted that in the context of the film, it wasn’t directed at anyone or anything and was used to illustrate a medical point.
By the time the group returned to Leicester Square for the premiere screening that same night, the BBFC had reconsidered and changed its mind.
In a statement, it said “the Board took the view that the way the strong language is presented in The King’s Speech did not contravene the language Guidelines at 12A and that the public would understand why the Board has reached this decision.”
Arriving for the premiere, Firth said it was wonderful news. “They’ve done the right thing,” he stressed.
The director Tom Hooper agreed, describing the decision as a triumph for making a decision in context. He was elated, he said, particularly given that six hours ago, he was using “pretty strong” language himself.
“I’m incredibly thrilled and incredibly grateful and I hope it means more
people will go and see the film, and go with their family, and that’s what it’s all about.”
The highly entertaining film with remarkable performances from Firth and Rush, in particular, opens theatrically in the UK in January.