The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
Message
Author
User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Posts: 5934
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#101 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:16 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Well, I think it's a worthwhile and debatable question whether the harm or cruelty one is directly complicit in has greater moral weight than harm or cruelty that one's lifestyle tacitly demands- to me, that's one of the major ethical issues of being a citizen of the first world in general, as much of our lifestyle is built upon and subsidized by violence towards workers, animals, and the environment, even if one does one's best to buy free trade or ethically sourced goods or what have you.

Is Tarkovsky's action more problematic because it's direct and personal?
It's more problematic for several reasons.

1. He was directly responsible.
2. He ordered it with torment (rather than sustenance) in mind and in full awareness of what was going on.
3. He did it in order to advance the exact opposite ethical feeling of the one under which he committed the act.

You'd have to lack all sense of proportion to consider not scrutinizing where your meat comes from the ethical equivalent of the above. Moreover, this discussion shouldn't be about what a bad man Tarkovsky is, personally. It should be about how a clearly unethical moment in a film reflects on the film and how, provided we admit it's unethical, we deal with that as filmgoers and art lovers. We should be discussing the intersection of aesthetics and ethics. I'm really sorry that this has all become about taking moral stands and what we eat and a bunch of issues that confuse things. But this kind of discussion doesn't work until we more or less get on the same page about the animal's death being deplorable and unnecessary and a real ethical problem, and I plainly have no trouble banging my drum on that issue.

Perkins Cobb
Posts: 2453
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#102 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:42 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Perkins Cobb wrote:Fair enough; perhaps I took those quotes out of context. But....
Mr Sausage wrote:Finding ways to play down or excuse or relativize the moment does indeed count as failing to deal with it. It also counts as making things easy on yourself.
No, Sausage, it does not. I have seen the film. I thought about it then and I have thought about it again since you brought it up. I have no ethical or aesthetic problem with the treatment of the horse in this scene. That does not excuse or relativize anything, or make things easy on myself. It simply means that I do not share your values on this particular topic. You're free to consider me a "moral cretin" if you choose, and you may well be right, but it's enormously insulting to suggest that I have somehow ducked the issue just because I didn't reach the same conclusion that you did. Come on.
Not just that you reached a different conclusion, but that you did it in an easy way. You took a considerable problem and explained it away by claiming that, unlike any other circumstance apparently, committing acts of cruelty is alright in the name or art. Why? Because art is transcendent, whatever that means, and therefore justifies the unjustifiable. It's a cheat; it does not resolve or explain the problem, it dispenses with it. You can feel as you want, that is your right, but your arguments do not deal with the plain ethical problem here, they just insist there is no problem. You'll understand if I don't take someone seriously who insists that committing cruelties in order to criticize the idea if cruelty isn't gobsmackingly problematic in a way that's hard to square.
Arguing that a situation does in fact not pose an ethical problem is a way of dealing with problem, and a perfectly valid one. You're insisting upon the self-evidence of points which are being hotly debated. You say that the horse scene is "clearly unethical." I say it is not unethical. I am not evading the issue -- I am rejecting your premise.

To clarify: Others have made the argument that the horse's death is justified specifically in the case of Rublev because Tarkovsky was "committing cruelties in order to criticize the idea of cruelty," and that the transcendence of art is some kind of unique exception. I did not. I would argue that there are a variety of situations (certainly medical experimentation; probably some forms of livestock harvesting; and yes, the creation of art when it can't be achieved by other means) in which cruelty towards animals is morally acceptable. Rublev's horse may be "hard to square" with your ethical views, but not with mine.

Also, isn't worrying about where one's meat comes from vastly more important than worrying about the mistreatment of one horse (even if it were happening right now rather than in a 45 year-old movie)? Isn't PETA's crusade against Luck revolting when you consider that it could devote those same resources towards fighting species extinction or the destruction of the environment? I get that we are playing this debate out largely on a philosophical rather than a pragmatic plane, but doesn't that in itself become as obscene as "committing cruelties in order to criticize the idea of cruelty" at some point? Somewhere in the crude personal ethical formulation I posited above, I'd add scale as a major factor, one which strikes me as missing (or backwards) in Sausage's framework.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Posts: 5934
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#103 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:24 pm

Perkins Cobb wrote:Arguing that a situation does in fact not pose an ethical problem is a way of dealing with problem, and a perfectly valid one. You're insisting upon the self-evidence of points which are being hotly debated. You say that the horse scene is "clearly unethical." I say it is not unethical. I am not evading the issue -- I am rejecting your premise.
Unfortunately, you can't deal with a problem by insisting it's not a problem. And as you haven't offered any framework in which tormenting an animal doesn't count as cruelty, and instead tried to make special exceptions, exceptions you presumably wouldn't make for films you thought were bad, I'm going to stand by my statement: you are refusing to deal with this issue and are instead making decisions based on convenience in order to save a film you love from charges you are uneasy with. There is a difference between demonstrating a thing and refusing to acknowledge a thing. There is also a difference between thinking something is ethical and not caring that it isn't, and your comments strike me as the latter.
Perkins Cobb wrote:I would argue that there are a variety of situations (certainly medical experimentation; probably some forms of livestock harvesting; and yes, the creation of art when it can't be achieved by other means) in which cruelty towards animals is morally acceptable. Rublev's horse may be "hard to square" with your ethical views, but not with mine.
It ought to be plain how one of these things is not like the others. But more to the point: they are hard to square with the ethical views of Tarkovsky's film itself.
Perkins Cobb wrote:Also, isn't worrying about where one's meat comes from vastly more important than worrying about the mistreatment of one horse (even if it were happening right now rather than in a 45 year-old movie)?
Could be. But you're phrasing this as a practical problem rather than an ethical one, almost in terms of what we should be doing to change this or that. As far as ethical stances go, tormenting an animal for a movie is on a different plane than not being over-particular about where your meat comes from.

Perkins Cobb
Posts: 2453
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#104 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Apr 05, 2013 9:12 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:Unfortunately, you can't deal with a problem by insisting it's not a problem, Perkins Cobb.
Is this now the Kafka forum? Good fucking grief.
Mr Sausage wrote:And as you haven't offered any framework in which tormenting an animal doesn't count as cruelty
That would be pretty difficult, since "tormenting" and "cruelty" are synonymous. If you're seeking a framework by which cruelty to animals is morally acceptable, how about this (which is implicit in my list of "special exceptions," otherwise known as examples, but I'll spell it out): Cruelty to animals is acceptable in situations when it is required to achieve something of value that cannot be achieved by any other means.
Mr Sausage wrote:exceptions you presumably wouldn't make for films you thought were bad
You presume incorrectly; I would apply this argument to any film above the level of the rankest exploitation (and, in general, defer to the artists' judgment of their own conduct ahead of my own).
Mr Sausage wrote:in order to save a film you love from charges you are uneasy with
.
Another incorrect presumption: I'm actually pretty cold toward Tarkovsky. Like zedz, I'm interested in it mainly as a thought experiment (my passion within this thread is directed toward the censorship angle and, more recently, toward your infuriating rhetorical tactics).
Mr Sausage wrote:There is a difference between demonstrating a thing and refusing to acknowledge a thing. There is also a difference between thinking something is ethical and not caring that it isn't, and your comments strike me as the latter.
I don't quite understand this, but it's true that I'm vastly less passionate about the horse and the issue of animal cruelty than you are, and that that is itself an ethical position, for better or worse.
Perkins Cobb wrote:I would argue that there are a variety of situations (certainly medical experimentation; probably some forms of livestock harvesting; and yes, the creation of art when it can't be achieved by other means) in which cruelty towards animals is morally acceptable. Rublev's horse may be "hard to square" with your ethical views, but not with mine.
Mr Sausage wrote:It ought to be plain how one of these things is not like the others.
I presume you mean art, but in my view art carries equal weight with survival or sustenance (which is another touchy ethical conundrum we've tl;dr'd to death here, I realize). So I will stand by this, although probably not to every possible extreme.
Mr Sausage wrote:But more to the point: they are hard to square with the ethical views of Tarkovsky's film itself.
I question this premise of yours, too. You insist upon Tarkovsky's hypocrisy in his treatment of the horse vs. the theme of the film as vital, but the more I think about it, I believe it's totally irrelevant.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Posts: 5934
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#105 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 05, 2013 11:34 pm

I was hoping to avoid this laborious work by appealing to common sense, but where common sense makes no dent:
Perkins Cobb wrote:That would be pretty difficult, since "tormenting" and "cruelty" are synonymous. If you're seeking a framework by which cruelty to animals is morally acceptable, how about this (which is implicit in my list of "special exceptions," otherwise known as examples, but I'll spell it out): Cruelty to animals is acceptable in situations when it is required to achieve something of value that cannot be achieved by any other means.
Exactly: you and I share the exact same ethical framework when it comes to cruelty. The only difference is whether we're going to make special exceptions. Now, claiming a generally cruel act is not unethical for special reasons needs some very special pleading in its favour, otherwise it's just avoiding the problem (since we admit that cruelty is, normally, a problem).

Now, your criteria, that it must achieve something of value, is just vague enough to've been used by many people to justify things you wouldn't consider kosher, either. Your terms aren't specific enough, but this is just an internet discussion, so let's go with it.

Your criteria, to quote a sentence from an earlier post of yours, is that "art transcends human behaviour." This doesn't make any sense, frankly, but let me raise a pertinent question: does art transcend human judgement? If so, how? If not, any judgement on its ethics must stand, correct?

Your second criteria, that this or that cannot be achieved by other means. Well, please be specific: what could not be achieved in Andrei Rublev? Only that one small isolated moment could possibly be unachievable without the mistreatment. So really, you have to mean: showing a horse being mistreated cannot be done without actually mistreating a horse. Assuming this can't be faked (tho' it can), your criteria becomes: so long as an artist's goal is to mistreat animals, they are morally free to mistreat animals. Seems to me this type of argument could only work if the mistreatment is for something besides just the shock of mistreatment. It's obvious Tarkovsky wanted to shock us with an animal being mistreated, but equally obvious that the moment is too small to be essential to the existence of the movie or even the scene of which it is a part. So the point becomes: do you weigh the value of a slightly enhanced shock effect in a movie so great that it trumps considerations of life, death, suffering, and cruelty concerning living things? If so, why should one agree and what is the value of supporting it? What is the precise benefit to humanity and the world that makes up for the large deficit of enacting cruelty? Is it ethical to pretend these values are equivalent?

Further: is there an ethical value of going out of your way to try options that don't involve treating things cruelly, or can we think someone unethical for not bothering to go our of his way to prevent suffering? For your argument to work, does cruelty not have to be the last possible option? And if you can't show that it was, you have to admit that it could be unethical and in all probability was/is.

I commend you, actually, for having no personal interest in Tarkovsky and admit I was wrong when I accused you of that.
Perkins Cobb wrote:I question this premise of yours, too. You insist upon Tarkovsky's hypocrisy in his treatment of the horse vs. the theme of the film as vital, but the more I think about it, I believe it's totally irrelevant.
Am I being genuine if I ordered you to not fucking swear? Is my swearing here relevant or irrelevant to the moral worth of my statement? Does the means I used to make that statement work for or against it, and if against, is this relevant? Is the means of getting a message across relevant or irrelevant?

You don't have to answer these questions, they're more or less rhetorical. But I will reaffirm here that your statement more than anything else shows your refusal to truly deal with this problem. It's to the point of absurdity now.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14112
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#106 Post by knives » Sat Apr 06, 2013 12:27 am

Honestly I feel, returning this back to the BBFC Zedz had generally the right idea where keeping this scene in the film becomes a necessity toward appreciating the evolution of the artist. I'm reminded a bit by Rossellini's evolution as a person as seen through his films which is a large part of why he is my favorite director. At the start he was completely unempathetic with anyone who was not directly him. Even Rome, Open City characterizes the villains in a grotesque othered way with homophobia and the like. That shows him as a 'cruel' man in many respects, but as he got older his empathy extended toward more and more people allowing for a more complex and compelling artist. By the end of his career he could even sympathize with a "rat". In regards to empathy Tarkovsky is a more complex situation, but I think with Rublev his ideas of cruelty and the other subjects that fill his career still lack empathy toward the world (for lack of a better word) regardless of the actual quality of the film (I think Rublev is one of his best). It gives greater effect to Solaris and The Mirror to know that his humanism and understanding of cruelty was not always so complex and universal. The scene should stay in according to Tarkovsky's wishes not because the film is great art or because it is not ethical (while generally not caring I think it is insane of anyone to argue it as being ethical for millions of reasons), but because it shows a clear idea of the evolution of the artist into a better person over time.

User avatar
colinr0380
Posts: 8503
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#107 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:16 am

I agree that this is the main issue knives, and it is the quandry that zedz, TMDaines and peerpee have put me into with regard to it. There is a persuasive argument there that we shouldn't cut that scene out of the film because it is a more effective indictment of Tarkovsky's techniques than any BBFC document describing the reason why it was removed; that to remove the scene from the film is a kind of whitewashing of the film by pretending that scene did not exist; and there is the sheer hypocrisy of editing the film when it is widely available in other territories and of course on the internet (I just did a search on YouTube, and it is on there under "Andrei Rublev - horse scenes")

At the very least the scene being available has allowed us to acknowledge that cruelty occurred and have a debate about whether it is right to treat an animal in that manner for what is essentially just going to be an image in a film. That is something we couldn't have done if the scene had been removed or censored and we were unaware of it. In that sense I totally agree that simply removing material and hiding it away in the name of protecting the viewer is totally wrong, and in some ways has a very low opinion of the audience member who might not have the 'correct' reaction to seeing certain images. In the debate over censorship versus discussion and argument over contentious and upsetting imagery I'll try to always err towards the view that a debate about what what is going on onscreen is the best way forward compared to cutting and simply not allowing an audience to deal with it at all (there is also the related debate that cutting and banning often adds an extra 'forbidden' aura to films that often do not really deserve it - the Human Centipede fims for example)

Certainly when it comes to anything staged, where offence, horror and/or annoyance is created through implication, editing, writing and acting etc, I'm always of the opinion that there is no reason to cut anything at all, and that it is down to audiences to either deal with it through a debate about the merits or lack thereof, or make a choice to not watch the material at all.

The issue I have here is that I don't really think that an image of real suffering should be turned into a commodity - that the distribution (and more importantly the exchange of money for, even if that exchange of money is just as much for the magnificent film surrounding that brief scene) of images of that horse can be seen as perpetuating the abuse.

As I say, I acknowledge that I am in a hypocritical position here given the number of Italian horror films I have in their unedited versions, and I have a lot of sympathy for peerpee's position that should any British company ever want to release the same 205 minute version of Andrei Rublev that is on that Critierion disc that they are most likely not going to be able to get that scene past the BBFC, which could make a hypothetical prospect of a wonderful deluxe Master of Cinema-style Blu edition of the film undesireable. I'll probably also end up getting the Criterion edition of Marketa Lazarova, despite having sympathies for the reasons why Second Run will probably never put out an unedited version of the same in the UK (I have supported Second Run though with the purchase of the František Vláčil box that includes the edited Marketa Lazarova DVD within it).

I don't want to suggest that I'm not conflicted in this debate about 'access' to the imagery, but I still keep coming back to the idea that seeing an animal suffer in that way shouldn't be something that gets used in films, even if it is making a powerful and appropriate point, and that maybe the removal of that image could be an extremely small way of showing how doing that is not condoned in filmmaking, even if that is just not condoning its 'official' distribution in just one territory in one small part of the world.

User avatar
Mr Sausage
Not PETA approved
Posts: 5934
Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
Location: Canada

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#108 Post by Mr Sausage » Sat Apr 06, 2013 8:30 am

I think the problem here is one endemic to having a censorship program in the first place. It seems to me that, if you're a censorship body, you can't pass something like this for two reasons:

A. you are tacitly supporting what you are in place to condemn.
B. you are (as colin suggests) allowing people to profit from it.

The fact of being an institution of moral authority forces you to make decisions that might have no practical value aside from ensuring that you aren't undermining your own moral authority and, therefore, your reason to exist. It's a dilemma of authority: at some point you will be faced with a situation in which your only options are to reinforce or undermine your own authority.

It seems to me the best way to deal with this is to release the movie uncut but provide supplemental material that adequately deals with the issue of animal cruelty. In this way you're forwarding a discussion rather than shutting it down. It might get around the problem of tacit support, but it isn't the kind of thing that censorship trucks in, since the point of censorship is to make certain moral or ethical decisions for the viewer. For a censorship board it makes far more sense to censor than to contextualize and let people deal with issues themselves. Censorship is about what is right and wrong more than about how best to educate.

Even at its most absurd, this situation may be unavoidable so long as there is a censorship body in Britain.

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10355
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#109 Post by zedz » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:18 pm

knives wrote:Honestly I feel, returning this back to the BBFC Zedz had generally the right idea where keeping this scene in the film becomes a necessity toward appreciating the evolution of the artist. I'm reminded a bit by Rossellini's evolution as a person as seen through his films which is a large part of why he is my favorite director. At the start he was completely unempathetic with anyone who was not directly him. Even Rome, Open City characterizes the villains in a grotesque othered way with homophobia and the like. That shows him as a 'cruel' man in many respects, but as he got older his empathy extended toward more and more people allowing for a more complex and compelling artist. By the end of his career he could even sympathize with a "rat". In regards to empathy Tarkovsky is a more complex situation, but I think with Rublev his ideas of cruelty and the other subjects that fill his career still lack empathy toward the world (for lack of a better word) regardless of the actual quality of the film (I think Rublev is one of his best). It gives greater effect to Solaris and The Mirror to know that his humanism and understanding of cruelty was not always so complex and universal. The scene should stay in according to Tarkovsky's wishes not because the film is great art or because it is not ethical (while generally not caring I think it is insane of anyone to argue it as being ethical for millions of reasons), but because it shows a clear idea of the evolution of the artist into a better person over time.
I think this approach might be a little disingenuous. I see no evidence that Tarkovsky evolved into St Francis of Assisi in his later works - though I do see that he didn't happen to tackle any projects with lots of horses in them, surrounded by mayhem. It would be nice to think he changed / matured over time, but I don't think that's something you can prove, and his diaries suggest he was rather intellectually stubborn and extremely defensive about his positions, unlikely to change them (unless told to do so by Pasternak's ghost, perhaps). The early works are rich in humanism, but it didn't prevent the horse incident, and if he'd been able to make another historical epic in the 80s, who's to say horses wouldn't have been mistreated in that one?

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10355
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#110 Post by zedz » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:27 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:I think the problem here is one endemic to having a censorship program in the first place. It seems to me that, if you're a censorship body, you can't pass something like this for two reasons:

A. you are tacitly supporting what you are in place to condemn.
B. you are (as colin suggests) allowing people to profit from it.

The fact of being an institution of moral authority forces you to make decisions that might have no practical value aside from ensuring that you aren't undermining your own moral authority and, therefore, your reason to exist. It's a dilemma of authority: at some point you will be faced with a situation in which your only options are to reinforce or undermine your own authority.

Even at its most absurd, this situation may be unavoidable so long as there is a censorship body in Britain.
Let's not forget that the issue of UK censorship of the film (which would pertain to both versions of it, since the horse scene is in both) is much more complicated, as Michael has pointed out.

I have no doubt that the BBFC would like nothing better than to release Rublyov uncut, because the status of the film makes censorship of it something of an embarrassment and - as seen here - raises all sorts of questions about the legitimacy of censorship that they really don't want to have to deal with. But it's one of the small number of cases where their hands are tied by much more powerful legislation which will almost certainly never be repealed, for very obvious political reasons.

EDIT: Actually, the only way I can envisage getting around this issue legally would be by increasing the power of the BBFC. If they were granted increased discretionary powers that quietly superceded the existing statutory provisions (so they were no longer completely beholden to the Animal Cruelty regs), then they could pass Rublyov uncut. This would all have to be done in such a generalized, indirect overhaul kind of a way (probably under the public guise of 'strengthening censorship') that the public and press never got a whiff of the change to the animal cruelty ban status.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14112
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#111 Post by knives » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:38 pm

zedz wrote: I think this approach might be a little disingenuous. I see no evidence that Tarkovsky evolved into St Francis of Assisi in his later works - though I do see that he didn't happen to tackle any projects with lots of horses in them, surrounded by mayhem. It would be nice to think he changed / matured over time, but I don't think that's something you can prove, and his diaries suggest he was rather intellectually stubborn and extremely defensive about his positions, unlikely to change them (unless told to do so by Pasternak's ghost, perhaps). The early works are rich in humanism, but it didn't prevent the horse incident, and if he'd been able to make another historical epic in the 80s, who's to say horses wouldn't have been mistreated in that one?
I don't think Rossellini did either. My point was that the choices of what to film and what to keep in show an evolution of the artist and in cases like this the choice to film and keep in this act of torture could be viewed as youthful hubris that became less cocky as he aged. I'm trying to keep away from hypotheticals so won't contemplate your epic suggestion, but I do think his later works show someone who is expressing himself at least slightly differently from his earlier works and that previous dedication to 'realism' is part of that change to me. I don't think any of what you said is in disagreement with me though I suppose it does pronounce the truth I skipped over that a lot of times these evolutions of the artist aren't for the better.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13630
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#112 Post by swo17 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:53 pm

knives wrote:keeping this scene in the film becomes a necessity toward appreciating the evolution of the artist.
What about Tarkovsky's final film when he burned down a house for the camera and then burned down another house just because that's how much he hates trees?

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14112
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#113 Post by knives » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:54 pm

I'm sure that's a joke, but just in case no one ever said that the evolution had to be a good one.

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10355
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#114 Post by zedz » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:08 pm

swo17 wrote:
knives wrote:keeping this scene in the film becomes a necessity toward appreciating the evolution of the artist.
What about Tarkovsky's final film when he burned down a house for the camera and then burned down another house just because that's how much he hates trees?
And there was a horse inside the house each time!

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10355
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#115 Post by zedz » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:17 pm

knives wrote:My point was that the choices of what to film and what to keep in show an evolution of the artist and in cases like this the choice to film and keep in this act of torture could be viewed as youthful hubris that became less cocky as he aged.
Well, it could be viewed that way, but I don't think there's any evidence whatsoever that 80s Tarkovsky was any less cocky or more humble than the 60s model. And Tarkovsky himself would harp on endlessly that his 'choice' of films in later years was largely shaped by the vast conspiracy (headed by Sergey Bondarchuk) designed to prevent him from making films at all (and thereby, perversely, extending his life). Those later films were on a smaller scale only because (in Tarkovsky's view) that was all he was 'allowed' to make.

User avatar
knives
Posts: 14112
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#116 Post by knives » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:26 pm

I'm not denying that. Maybe I should stick to the broad as my reasoning I think applies as much to Lenzi crap, for example, as it does something good like Rublev. There's a mixture of culpability and evolution going on that makes me feel that the scenes in question shouldn't be censored. If when he was alive somebody wanted to press a criminal trial against Tarkovsky for animal cruelty that would be a different thing and I'd be begrudgingly for it since what he did was an act of unusual cruelty, but he wasn't.

User avatar
david hare
Posts: 6932
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#117 Post by david hare » Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:00 pm

Surely now in the only theatre of morality that counts - your own - we can all agree the film should be seen uncut, if only to confirm Sainted Fucking Tarkovsky's failures as a human being and frankly an artist in this case. As for censorship, of course this shouldn't be cut, it's an image, it should be forwarned with the sort of "consumer warning" censorship boards do everywhere. As for Tark and everyone else who has pusued this hideous treatement of animals for the sake of getting a good shot or two, when CGI or other means could have been available (even when S-F-Tark made Rublev) in an ideal world Tark should have been prosecuted for unconscionable animal cruelty and the civil courts should have determined punishment. With non-optional torture.

In any case it's water under the bridge now, like the water that flowed remorselessly under the dying white stallion with its throat still pouring blood in the fucking Eisenstein film. It doesn't matter to me how poetic it all was/is or how much I love Eisenstein (and I do, as much as some people love Sainted Fucking Tarkovsky), I'm over it, the mere need for these images and this shit in my life, and completely and it's just never acceptable to extract this torment from any living creature just for the sake of a fucking film. The animal's well being is far more important in the ethical universe, even if it were to die tomorrow from unrelated causes.

Isn't the past and its crimes, excused by totally hollow cries to "support art" enough these days? Especially when CGI enables people to get away with such images as a digital reallife cartoon, and clearly signifies its unreality to the audience.

User avatar
MichaelB
Posts: 12297
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#118 Post by MichaelB » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:44 am

zedz wrote:Actually, the only way I can envisage getting around this issue legally would be by increasing the power of the BBFC. If they were granted increased discretionary powers that quietly superceded the existing statutory provisions (so they were no longer completely beholden to the Animal Cruelty regs), then they could pass Rublyov uncut. This would all have to be done in such a generalized, indirect overhaul kind of a way (probably under the public guise of 'strengthening censorship') that the public and press never got a whiff of the change to the animal cruelty ban status.
I completely agree. It is possible to overturn legislation with minimal fanfare, but the usual tactic is to do it surreptitiously as far more high-profile and attention-grabbing legislation is passed. My favourite example is when heterosexual anal intercourse was quietly decriminalised in 1994 as part of a general overhaul of sexual consent laws - I don't remember any debate about it at the time, and hardly anybody noticed because they were too busy fussing over the equalising of the gay and straight ages of consent (and the significant lowering of the gay age of consent that came with it).

But I think it would have to be something along those lines, because I just can't imagine how the Animals Act could be overturned on its own. Any MP who proposed such a thing independently would be torn to pieces by the tabloids, and there'd be no chance of it getting through a Parliamentary vote - as far as they're concerned, it's effective legislation that addresses a genuine public concern which also works well, as demonstrated by the fact that it's still on the statute books nearly 76 years since it was passed. So it would have to be part of an overall tidying-up package.

bdlover
Posts: 140
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:54 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#119 Post by bdlover » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:07 pm

But Michael, the BBFC's decision to define horsefalls as animal cruelty is a development of the last decade. The original theatrical release of Heaven's Gate was passed uncut. Another example: A Fistful of Dynamite passed uncut for video release in both 1988 and 2003, then cut in 2005.

Is the Animals Act not just an excuse therefore?

User avatar
George Kaplan
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 7:42 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#120 Post by George Kaplan » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:47 am

david hare wrote:..., if only to confirm Sainted Fucking Tarkovsky's failures as a human being and frankly an artist in this case.
David, thank you for expressing, once again, what I've been thinking!

What's more, the grouping of Tarkovsky with Dreyer, Ozu and Bresson has always, not only mystified, but appalled me. I find it unimaginable to conceive of any one of those other artists ever condescending to the means employed in the sequence under discussion. Especially Bresson! Never mind for a moment the cruelty, Bresson's entire aesthetic is totally and emphatically at odds with such crude, vulgar shortcutting. Tarkovsky's approach is not only counter productive to the theme he develops toward cruelty in the film but signals a profound paucity of imaginative capability - in a film that otherwise seems to reveal just the opposite. ANDREI RUBLEV has meant a great deal to me over the decades, as have several other works of his (particularly MY NAME IS IVAN). Yet, with each passing year I find it harder and harder to retain him among those artists for whom I have great respect.

User avatar
MichaelB
Posts: 12297
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
Contact:

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#121 Post by MichaelB » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:46 am

bdlover wrote:But Michael, the BBFC's decision to define horsefalls as animal cruelty is a development of the last decade. The original theatrical release of Heaven's Gate was passed uncut.
A 148-minute running time doesn't look "uncut" to me! Was the animal cruelty retained in the shorter version?

As for the longer version that screened in London in 1983, I don't think it was ever submitted to the BBFC - this wouldn't have been legally necessary for a theatrical release, especially given that there was just the one print and that it only played at two venues (the NFT and ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, as they were known at the time). I daresay there might have been repercussions if anyone had complained to Lambeth or Camden councils in a way that happened with the proposed Edinburgh screening of Cockfighter, but I assume no-one did.

(A private prosecution under the Animals Act is vanishingly unlikely given the expense, but the loss of a cinema's operating licence for screening illegal material is a rather more potent threat. Basically, if you're alerted upfront to the fact that your cinema may be screening something that's in breach of the Animals Act and you choose to go ahead anyway, you're pretty much asking for a local authority investigation - not least because it's likely that the person who complained to you will also complain to them. For example, it was an animal rights group that got Cockfighter withdrawn in Edinburgh).

User avatar
GaryC
Posts: 922
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:56 pm
Location: Aldershot, Hampshire, UK

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#122 Post by GaryC » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:31 pm

MichaelB wrote:
bdlover wrote:But Michael, the BBFC's decision to define horsefalls as animal cruelty is a development of the last decade. The original theatrical release of Heaven's Gate was passed uncut.
A 148-minute running time doesn't look "uncut" to me! Was the animal cruelty retained in the shorter version?

As for the longer version that screened in London in 1983, I don't think it was ever submitted to the BBFC - this wouldn't have been legally necessary for a theatrical release, especially given that there was just the one print and that it only played at two venues (the NFT and ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, as they were known at the time). I daresay there might have been repercussions if anyone had complained to Lambeth or Camden councils in a way that happened with the proposed Edinburgh screening of Cockfighter, but I assume no-one did.
I saw the longer version of Heaven's Gate in 70mm at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue in 1986 or 1987, and the cockfight sequence wasn't in it. Presumably someone had edited it out on legal advice, as I understand (from someone who was there) that the sequence was included when the print showed at the NFT in 1983. (I don't remember any horsefalls though.)

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13630
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#123 Post by swo17 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 6:59 pm

I was recently on a long commercial flight where I saw an interesting short film called "Salò". It was about a bunch of attractive young Italian peasants that gather at a regal country estate for some reason. Great photography, and very mysterious. (Like why are they all going to that house, what's in there!?) I can't wait to recommend it to my mom.

User avatar
zedz
Posts: 10355
Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#124 Post by zedz » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:50 pm

swo17 wrote:I was recently on a long commercial flight where I saw an interesting short film called "Salò". It was about a bunch of attractive young Italian peasants that gather at a regal country estate for some reason. Great photography, and very mysterious. (Like why are they all going to that house, what's in there!?)
SpoilerShow
Puppies.

User avatar
swo17
Posts: 13630
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 10:25 am
Location: SLC, UT

Re: The BBFC and Animal Cruelty

#125 Post by swo17 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:01 pm

Aw, cute. Buying extra copies now for my gramgrams and everyone in her knitting group...

Post Reply