LONDON — A row has erupted over the British Board of Film Classification’s decision to give an 18 certificate to Neil Jordan’s “The End of the Affair.”
The BBFC made the ruling, which legally prohibits minors from seeing the pic, because of two brief but passionate sex scenes between Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore.
Producer Stephen Woolley slammed the ruling as “completely insane.” In the U.S. the film, distribbed by Columbia, carries a less-restrictive R rating.
“This is a rare occasion when the American censorship system can pat itself on the back,” Woolley commented.
He revealed that the Motion Picture Assn. originally gave the film an NC-17 rating, but softened to an R after an appeal from the studio and the filmmakers. The MPA decided that although the sex scenes technically merited an NC-17, the overall artistic context justified a milder rating.
Woolley and Jordan appealed the BBFC’s ruling, but their arguments fell on deaf ears.
An 18 rating in the U.K. is less commercially damaging than the equivalent NC-17 tag in the U.S. Nonetheless, Woolley said he is worried that it could alienate older audiences outside London, who would otherwise be attracted to a World War II romance based on one of the great English novels of the 20th century. He is also furious that teenagers will be prevented from discovering the Graham Greene book through the film.
A BBFC spokesman described “The End of the Affair” as “a very good film,” but said “the sex scenes gave us no choice but to give it an 18 certificate.”
Although the filmmakers have the choice of cutting the film to gain a 15 rating, they will not do so — and, indeed, have been encouraged not to make any cuts by BBFC director Robin Duvall, as he believes that it would damage the film creatively.