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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is it ever a good idea to ban any film… even ‘The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)’?

You may have heard that the British Board of Film Classification has outright banned the film The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) — it now cannot be released in the U.K. Not in cinemas, not on DVD. The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a thoroughly vile film, and the BBFC’s reasons for banning the sequel make the second film sound even more repugnant. Which I would have said was impossible. Via Empire:

It’s worth noting, before we get all up in arms, that this is a relatively rare decision for the BBFC, who outlined their reasons at some length and stressed that the full Board was in on this one. The full reasoning is below – but if you’re of a sensitive disposition even this may be rather unpleasant.

“The first film dealt with a mad doctor who sews together three kidnapped people in order to produce the ‘human centipede’of the title. Although the concept of the film was undoubtedly tasteless and disgusting it was a relatively traditional and conventional horror film and the Board concluded that it was not in breach of our Guidelines at ‘18’. This new work, The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence), tells the story of a man who becomes sexually obsessed with a DVD recording of the first film and who imagines putting the ‘centipede’ idea into practice. Unlike the first film, the sequel presents graphic images of sexual violence, forced defecation, and mutilation, and the viewer is invited to witness events from the perspective of the protagonist. Whereas in the first film the ‘centipede’ idea is presented as a revolting medical experiment, with the focus on whether the victims will be able to escape, this sequel presents the ‘centipede’ idea as the object of the protagonist’s depraved sexual fantasy.

The BBFC statement continues, going into graphic detail about what is so heinously offensive about the film, but I won’t repeat it here. Click over if you must, but honestly: You do not want even word pictures of this stuff in your head.

The statement includes, however, the conclusion that the film “poses a real, as opposed to a fanciful, risk that harm is likely to be caused to potential viewers.”

As disgusting and reprehensible as this movie may be, could it possibly cause actual harm to viewers? And even if harm were possible, doesn’t such a ban bring even more attention to a film that it might otherwise have received had it been labeled with the most restrictive rating the BBFC can dole out (an 18, meaning no one under 18 may view it)?

Then there is the matter of practicality. In the era of the Internet and of quick and easy international buying and shipping, can banning a movie ever be an effective ban?

What do you think? Is it ever a good idea to ban any film… even The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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