Malle charges MPAA with ‘aesthetic myopia’

“Damage” director Louis Malle fired an angry salvo at the Motion Picture Assn. of America yesterday, after his film was rerated with an R in the 1,247th bulletin of the MPAA’s Classification & Rating Administration.

Malle charged the organization with “aesthetic myopia” in determining the ratings of feature films. As previously reported, the MPAA ratings board gave the Jeremy Irons/Juliette Binoche starrer an NC-17 on Oct. 28 and its appeals board upheld the rating Nov. 12.

In the weeks since the appeals board upheld the rating, Malle and New Line cut the movie to earn the R awarded in bulletin No. 1,247. Malle said the “minor changes” he made to satisfy the MPAA were “unimportant” and “won’t be noticed.”

But Malle said he was “deeply shocked by the unfairness, inadequacy and aesthetic myopia of the MPAA ratings procedure, which managed to cloak ‘Damage’ in an aura of pornography.”

In a statement, New Line president and chief operating officer Michael Lynne backed Malle, calling for the MPAA to make changes in the ratings procedure “so that filmmakers are not subjected to an arbitrary, draining and unfair process.”

Lynne suggested that the MPAA streamline the mechanics of the ratings process and provide specific guidance to filmmakers and companies about objections to movies involved ratings dispute.

He said the MPAA should consider dusting off the X rating while maintaining the newer NC-17, so that NC-17 movies would not be prohibited by exhibitor lease agreements from playing in theaters nationwide.

MPAA president Jack Valenti was in transit from California to Washington and could not be reached for response.

Besides “Damage,” the MPAA handed out nine Rs and two PGs.


“Lucy and Desi: Before the Laughter” (Republic Pictures Corp.; “for sensuality and language”).

“Pancho Barnes” (Orion Home Video; “for mild sensuality, language and violence”).


“Arcade” (Paramount Home Video; “for language”).

“Badlanders” (21st Century Film Corp.; “for strong violence, and for language”).

“Benefit of the Doubt” (Miramax Films; “for violence, sexuality and language”).

“Damage” (New Line Cinema; “for strong sexuality, and for language”).

“Inside Edge” (Atlantic Releasing Co.; “for strong sexuality, violence and language”).

“The Last Days of Chez Nous” (Fine Line Features; “for a moment of strong sexual language”).

“Money Men” (Warner Bros. Inc.; “for violence and language”).

“Ninja Vengeance” (21st Century Film Corp.; “for violence, language and sexuality”).

“Prison Heat” (Cannon Pictures, Inc.; “for strong violence and sexuality, and for language”).

“Sweet Justice” (Triboro Entertainment Group, Inc.; “for violence and sexuality”).

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