A cut too far?

Ken Loach tells the BBFC to mind its attitude to language.

by Jennie Kermode

The BBFC is obsessed by language, speaks the language of Middle England and refuses to accept that certain taboo words are completely natural to the characters who use them, says director Ken Loach. Currently promoting The Angels' Share, a comedy about a group of unemployed Glaswegians who decide to make some money out of whisky, he is unhappy with the BBFC's decision to give it a 15 certificate only after cutting it by dialogue substitution.

The BBFC ruling includes a warning that the film still contains "very strong language". In fact, it contains precisely seven instances of the offending word, only two of them spoken in anger. Speaking to The Guardian, producer Rebecca O'Brien described the ruling as "offensive" in light of the fact that torture scenes were not required to be cut (though a warning about violence was also appended).

"The strongest terms may be acceptable if justified by the context. Aggressive or repeated use of the strongest language is unlikely to be acceptable," say the BBFC, insisting that their policy is based on communications from the public. In 2004, zombie comedy Shaun Of The Dead broke the mould by receiving a 15 certificate although Nick Frost character used 'cunt' as a term of endearment, and recent superhero film Kick-Ass was rated 15 despite an 11 year old girl calling a group of adults cunts.

'Cunt' is considerably less stigmatised in the north of the UK, especially Scotland. It is also more likely to be used in a casual way by working class people than by the middle classes.

Share this with others on...

Stay-At-Home Seven: July 13 to 19 Films to catch on streaming services and TV for the next seven days

Streaming spotlight: inventors in the movies Cinema's take on scientific creativeness

Morricone: 'The Mozart of film music' Memories of an encounter with the maestro, who has died at 91

Setting the pace Riyaana Hartley on Lella Lombardi, Beyond Driven and women in Formula One

Kelly Preston dies from breast cancer Twins star was 57

San Sebastian announces titles Plans going ahead for physical edition of the festival

More news and features

We're bringing you all the latest from Sheffield DocFest and the Edinburgh International Film Festival online selection.

We're looking forward to the Fantasia International Film Festival.

We've recently been covering the Cheltenham International Film Festival, the Chattanooga Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival online selection.

Read our full for more.

Visit our festivals section.


More competitions coming soon.