“Schindler’s List” and “Dances With Wolves” could be among hundreds of films banned from video release in the U.K. if parliament approves a proposal aimed at protecting children from violent images, according to Britain’s chief censor.
James Ferman, director of the British Board of Film Classification, is opposing the draft legislation, which will be debated in parliament today.
He said it could make half the films released in the past 30 years illegal on video.
The government is also arguing against the new censorship proposals, which have been put forward by an opposition MP. However, 200 MPs (one-third of the House of Commons), including 80 from the ruling Conservative Party, have declared they will vote in favor of the changes.
If passed, the legislation could cause huge financial damage to Britain’s video industry, which is already among the most tightly regulated in Europe.
The amendment, tabled by Liberal Democrat MP David Alton, would ban any videos that contain inappropriate role models for children or are psychologically harmful to them. It is targeted at violent horror and action movies.
Home Secretary Michael Howard is trying to head off the draconian new proposals, suggesting instead a tougher ratings system, which would see more films given the maximum “18” label. He also is planning to introduce an identity-card system so that teenagers would have to give proof of age before renting or buying a video.
This debate has been triggered by growing public concern about juvenile violence, following the murder of toddler James Bulger by two 9-year-old boys. The judge in the case suggested a link to the video “Child’s Play 3,” although the police and evidence disagreed with this claim.