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PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:38 pm 
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Calvin wrote:
As expected, [Second Sight's release of] Heaven's Gate has been cut by 59s
Specifically for:

Quote:
scenes of unsimulated animal cruelty orchestrated by the film makers (in this case, a cockfight and sight of horses being deliberately tripped in a cruel fashion).

No real surprise - the law hasn't changed since 1980 and the film was notorious for its on-set animal cruelty, so the BBFC's hands are effectively tied by the 1984 Video Recordings Act's statutory requirement that they take all relevant legislation (such as the 1937 Animals Act) into account before issuing a classification certificate.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 1:32 am 

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Ah yes, how eminently reasonable... :roll:

There are lots of problems with Criterion's master of Heaven's Gate: an uncut blu-ray of MGM's Zsigmond-approved master (broadcast on HD cable in the US) would be very welcome indeed. The previous 'UK' DVD was certified uncut in Ireland and then sold in the rest of the UK as a semi-import, just a thought...

Another thought - the original theatrical release of the film contained subtitles for some of the foreign dialogue, missing from every subsequent DVD or blu-ray release. If Second Sight want fans of the film to double-dip they might want to think about reinstating those subtitles (along with the intermission, the original color timing and mixing, etc).


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:39 pm 
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So the reality is: the rest of the world watches the full version, the UK look utterly ridiculous with a cut version, and Second Sight suffer because people seek out the Criterion edition.

Useless. I don't know why British video companies even bother.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:03 pm 
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We're talking about cutting horsefalls here, not cutting genuinely valuable footage from the film. If the Second Sight release has better bonus features than the Criterion and the A/V is about the same, I'd go for the UK version in an instant (I haven't seen the film). I get that with the stipulated cuts the Second Sight is compromised in its own way like the Criterion is but animal cruelty is an instance where I can get behind censorship, especially if it is not critical to the story. Of course, we could say that Second Sight could/should have argued harder against the cuts when Arrow successfully managed to keep Deep Red intact. 59 seconds of horsefalls missing is not a dealbreaker for me and I wouldn't pay a higher price for the Criterion or any other import just for having that one extra minute of film.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:17 pm 
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They should draw the line at horsefalls that took place on the date the legislation was introduced. In this instance, it's a close call (1980!)

We're the only civilised country that cuts things like this that were shot decades ago (the long cut of ANDREI RUBLEV, if it ever gets released here, will suffer too).

Your definition of "genuinely valuable footage" is different to what the director thought was his final cut. I'd rather see the director's vision than your or the BBFC's preference. Cutting the footage only in the UK won't bring the animals back.

I'd like to see the actual finished film as it was seen at the time, and as it is legally seen in other countries.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:32 pm 
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The images are one thing, but what about the soundtrack? CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) was cut by about 20 seconds for horsefalls. Do I mind that 20 seconds of animal cruelty from a not particularly important film are missing? Not really. But during the two scenes that horsefalls have been removed, the soundtrack is in full force, as they are comprised of choreographed fights. The numerous cuts cause the soundtrack to skip and jump around, and the scenes become ruined.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:25 pm 
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What on earth would be the reaction of the BBFC to the slaughtered white horse who catapults to his death in slow motion with arterial bloood flying everywhere from an opening suspension bridge in Eisenstein's October? THe sequence is a mixture of close and wide shot, but it is explicitly clear the poor creature has been killed solely for the filming. I have real problems with this sort of stuff but the sequence is a crucial poetic emblem for the murder of the workers by the bourgeoisie, female members of which are earlier seen in a sequence murdering blue collar men going on strike with parasols and handbags. I know it sounds absurd but in fact the entire sequence with the coda of the falling dying horse is one of the most powerful pieces of dialectical montage as semi abstract poetry in all of Soviet cinema. So can you justify cutting it? If indeed anyone ever has?

I have the Criterion BD of the Cimino and as usual for me I skip the scenes including the falls. I personally can't watch this stuff.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:59 am 

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While I feel much the same as Finch and david hare about movie horsefalls, the BBFC's position seems ironic when a large percentage of the UK population watch and actively encourage - with suitable crocodile tears - more or less predictable (so on some level intentional) fatal horsefalls every year. Coming to a screen near you next Saturday in fact! And sadly it's just the tip of the iceberg...


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:31 am 
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peerpee wrote:
They should draw the line at horsefalls that took place on the date the legislation was introduced. In this instance, it's a close call (1980!)

The legislation was passed in 1937! In fact, I think it's the oldest bit of specifically content-related legislation that's still on the statute book.

Jonathan S wrote:
While I feel much the same as Finch and david hare about movie horsefalls, the BBFC's position seems ironic when a large percentage of the UK population watch and actively encourage - with suitable crocodile tears - more or less predictable (so on some level intentional) fatal horsefalls every year. Coming to a screen near you next Saturday in fact! And sadly it's just the tip of the iceberg...

It's not so much "the BBFC's position" as that of the Animals Act - but even if someone commercially released Grand National footage on video, the Act wouldn't apply because it would clearly qualify for one of its two escape clauses: namely, cruelty that would have happened regardless of the camera's presence.

(The other one is cruelty that's provably simulated, which I think is how Deep Red got away with it, albeit by a whisker - but the actual cruelty in Heaven's Gate was both notorious and well documented, so there was very little chance of it getting through unscathed. Not least because this was precisely the sort of thing that the Animals Act was passed to crack down on in the first place - if I remember rightly, it was an outcry over Michael Curtiz's The Charge of the Light Brigade that led to the legislation being called for.)

Like the 1978 Protection of Children Act, the Animals Act is an absolute bastard to get around because context doesn't provide a legal defence. Or rather, no artistic context beyond the exemptions that are already granted - the law doesn't care if it's Tarkovsky, Cimino or Umberto Lenzi behind the camera.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:01 am 
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And quite rightly too, even if I have my issues with censorship. The Andrei Rublev moment is also a perfect example - during the "Raid" sequence, the horse with its throat cut being edged to the top of a platform and falling from a height before being stabbed through the throat while staggering around broken backed is an amazingly powerful moment and totally fits in with Tarkovsky's use of horse imagery throughout the rest of the film. It is a very powerful 'artistic' moment. Yet it is still fundamentally an animal being made to suffer (and in a prolonged and distressing way) just for a shot in a film.

I hope that filmmakers should feel able to tackle any subject that they can think of but we shouldn't ignore the way animals are treated in 'real life', just as killing human beings might be considered a no-no by the authorities even if doing so results in a great work of art. The sense of verisimilitude is lost when animals are not being killed for real, but films are after all fictional creations, so there should be a way to realistically fake such moments (it may be costlier though? :-k )

Deaths in horse races are equally problematic, but I suppose the argument there would be that the cameras usually cut away from the part where they are killing the horses! (Plus, if it didn't happen how would our ready meal manufacturers be able to keep producing cheap lasagnes?) Something which is problematic in itself in whitewashing the issue of horse deaths - especially compared with the way that injured jockeys are treated!

That actually makes me wonder - I know that the HBO series Luck got cancelled because of a number of horses died during filming but I haven't actually seen the series. Did that show ever tackle the issue of animals being injured during racing during any of its episodes?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:13 am 
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colinr0380 wrote:
Deaths in horse races are problematic, but I suppose the argument there would be that the cameras usually cut away from the part where they are killing the horses! (Plus, if it didn't happen how would our ready meal manufacturers be able to keep producing cheap lasagnes?) Something which is problematic in itself in whitewashing the issue of horse deaths - especially compared with the way that injured jockeys are treated!

On the other hand, I don't think a documentary like Jacek Bławut's Lump of Sugar would fall foul of the Animals Act either, even though it deliberately (and polemically) doesn't cut away from mid-race horse deaths, which gradually become the main subject of the film.

(The whole thing is on YouTube - if I remember rightly, it doesn't need subtitles. And if you can bear the subject, it's an immensely powerful film.)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:36 am 

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MichaelB wrote:
Jonathan S wrote:
While I feel much the same as Finch and david hare about movie horsefalls, the BBFC's position seems ironic when a large percentage of the UK population watch and actively encourage - with suitable crocodile tears - more or less predictable (so on some level intentional) fatal horsefalls every year. Coming to a screen near you next Saturday in fact! And sadly it's just the tip of the iceberg...

It's not so much "the BBFC's position" as that of the Animals Act - but even if someone commercially released Grand National footage on video, the Act wouldn't apply because it would clearly qualify for one of its two escape clauses: namely, cruelty that would have happened regardless of the camera's presence.

Yes, of course - the word was ambiguous but I didn't mean "position" in the sense of the BBFC's own principles but the situation they are placed in by a hypocritical legal system that prevents the viewing of horsefalls in movies but allows it in broadcasts of horseracing - and the fact, as you say, that the BBFC would be obliged to make the same distinction only highlights the irony and hypocrisy. Morally, I don't see any difference between a movie and a horseracing context (both are essentially commercial entertainments) and the resulting fatalities seem more or less equally predictable.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:27 am 
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colinr0380 wrote:
And quite rightly too, even if I have my issues with censorship. The Andrei Rublev moment is also a perfect example - during the "Raid" sequence, the horse with its throat cut being edged to the top of a platform and falling from a height before being stabbed through the throat while staggering around broken backed is an amazingly powerful moment and totally fits in with Tarkovsky's use of horse imagery throughout the rest of the film. It is a very powerful 'artistic' moment. Yet it is still fundamentally an animal being made to suffer (and in a prolonged and distressing way) just for a shot in a film.

I hope that filmmakers should feel able to tackle any subject that they can think of but we shouldn't ignore the way animals are treated in 'real life', just as killing human beings might be considered a no-no by the authorities even if doing so results in a great work of art. The sense of verisimilitude is lost when animals are not being killed for real, but films are after all fictional creations, so there should be a way to realistically fake such moments (it may be costlier though? :-k )

I don't think anyone would disagree with the fact that animals shouldn't have to suffer for our entertainment, but cutting the footage doesn't solve anything. The animal is dead or has already suffered. Cutting a few minutes of footage does nothing. It doesn't undo the action. It's the act itself that should be illegal, not the viewing of subsequent footage of the act in question. Turning a blind eye to something doesn't mean that it didn't happen. What is gained by censoring films where an animal happened to be hurt in the process? Nothing. All you do is travesty a work of art.

Furthermore, no action has an inherent morality. There are things we find disgusting or distasteful that other cultures wouldn't blink at and vice-versa. A bunch of suits shouldn't dictate what I should judge to be acceptable viewing or not. The BBFC podcasts frighten me in this regard because the people working there clearly believe the opposite to be true. I'm all for certification and advising parents on what is suitable for their children to watch, but people should have the power to decide what they want to watch.

Do we even need to discuss how stupidly futile actions such as this are nowadays, anyway? Age of the Internet and all. Censorship like this is a complete waste of time other than to comply with a law that serves little real purpose. Anyone who wants to watch these films in all their "glory" - regardless of whether it can be uncomfortable viewing at times - can do so through the Internet or importing.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:39 pm 
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TMDaines wrote:
Furthermore, no action has an inherent morality.

No. There are many actions with an 'inherent morality'.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 3:33 pm 
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I suppose the argument that could be made in view of removing animal cruelty from films is that the filmmakers have produced the circumstances of, and will profit from through the distribution of, animals being treated cruelly. (Something which I guess ties into the 'it would have happened anyway' mitigation, that at least shows that the fillmakers are not setting up an animal death purely for a neat shot - they might be capitalising on real world events instead, which I agree might be a slight distinction but still is an important one)

In that sense I kind of have less of an issue with the images being freely available through the internet, since at least nobody is profiting, or imagining that hurting an animal will add a selling point to their film (which is kind of what happened with all of those Italian cannibal films, where having an animal killed on camera in a way became seen as being a necessary ingredient to create the subgenre). There's still the ethical issue of causing cruelty for entertainment purposes, but at least no money is changing hands to create an economic basis for continuing to do it (and looking on the bright side presumably 'faking' moments of animal cruelty should actually help to create jobs in the CGI or model making spheres! And I presume also in the economy of people monitoring on set animal action and allowing animal trainers to be able to point towards boundaries around the manner that their animals are allowed to be used in)

EDIT: Although to highlight my own hypocrisy and confirm TMDaines' point, I do have the Criterion Andrei Rublev sitting next to the computer (and checked the horse scene earlier), and have the Criterion disc of Heaven's Gate sitting in its shrinkwrap nearby! So while I've been forthright that it is totally wrong to film animal cruelty for purely filmic purposes, I still have copies of those films in their unedited versions.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:27 pm 
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If footage of animal cruelty has to be cut, I'm more angered by the film-maker's behaviour than the BBFC's.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:49 pm 
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knives wrote:
TMDaines wrote:
Furthermore, no action has an inherent morality.

No. There are many actions with an 'inherent morality'.

Not that I particularly wanted this to turn into a philosophical discussion, but what would you put forward as an example?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:06 pm 
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A genocide would be an extreme example if we want to keep this short.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:17 pm 
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But even a genocide could, and would, be judged to be morally correct by certain societies. There's genocide in the Bible that would be interpreted by many to be justified as it is to God's will, although many Christians would not take that stance. Holy Wars in the past were considered to be morally the right thing to do, even though our societies would now condemn them today.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:20 pm 
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And those societies would be wrong. Moral relativism is bull caca since there are indeed situations were people no matter what justification did something wrong. Those christians are wrong in your example.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:38 pm 
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But what you believe to be absolutely wrong and unjustifiable in any circumstance is completely dependent upon the society in which you live and have grown up. That is to say that you, an American resident in 2013, will not share the same moral code as you would if you were born in Rome in 240BC. There will be things we believe to be just and right now that in a hundred or a thousand years would shame us. The concept of gay marriage would have been inconceivable one hundred or even fifty years ago. In another hundred years or so our notions of who can marry whom may well shift again.

(Funnily, enough I've just seen a white person blacking up on Russian TV to impersonate the soul singer Seal as part of an X Factor style reality show. The people I was with couldn't even begin to conceive of why I found this flabbergasting.)

My point, just to ensure that this sidetracking is not out of vanity, is what we choose to censor now and what we choose to censor it ten, twenty, fifty and even hundred years will be completely different. Society will change and censorship in the past will seem completely baffling either from the point of view of it being bizarrely strict or dangerously lax. Just look at the history of film censorship up to now. It would be nice to think that we're finally reaching a point where adults should be able to decide what they want to watch. What one person considers in bad taste or unstomachable, another person barely even registers.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:49 pm 
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I agree with your final point, but that doesn't mean the moral relativism is correct. Another example is lynching people for prejudiced reasons (i.e. because they're black, Jewish, gay, etc) at various points in time and places on the earth may have been seen largely as acceptable, but that doesn't make it morally right.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 31, 2013 7:01 pm 
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Is the BBFC truly protecting anyone by censoring these scenes? Is it likely that someone still thinks that killing animals for their film will boost their profit? Worst case scenario should be forcing Second Run to add two cuts of the film by seamless branching.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:22 am 
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perkizitore wrote:
Is the BBFC truly protecting anyone by censoring these scenes?

The BBFC would almost certainly prefer not to cut this material - or at least would prefer to be able to use their discretion.

But in this case, their hands are tied by the criminal law.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 7:06 pm 
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peerpee wrote:
(the long cut of ANDREI RUBLEV, if it ever gets released here, will suffer too).

Isn't the offending scene in both versions of the film? [/nitpick]


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