With the 20 year anniversary of Lord of the Rings just passed, many have been revisiting the familiar tale of Frodo and The Ring (via Polygon). Peter Jackson’s trilogy is the only fantasy series to reach the kind of critical acclaim such as being nominated at the Academy Awards. Currently the Lord of the Rings theatrical cut as well as extended additions can be seen in its entirety on HBO Max. But some corporations refuse to be swayed. In fact, Lord of the Rings is one of many popular franchise films that has been met with resistance. Along with the original Star Wars trilogy, Lord of the Rings was submitted for re-release to the BBFC, or the British Board Film Classification. This essentially the UK’s version of the MPAA. And with this submission came dire consequences.
Both Lord of the Rings and Star Wars have been reclassified. Lord of the Rings is now considered as 12A film as opposed to its previous PG rating. The Empire Strikes Back was changed from a U to a PG rating due to hands being chopped off by lightsabers (via i News). The BBFC insists that this reclassification has to do with the modern times we are in. BBFC states that the previous ratings are “no longer appropriate” as modern society has redefined what is triggering to audiences.
In addition to Star Wars, films such as Ghostbusters and Jaws have also been reclassified. The one thing these films all have in common was the era that they were released. In the 80s, no one seemed to have a problem with limbs being hacked off or chomped by a killer shark. In America, the inauguration of the PG13 rating was as recent as 1984 (via History.com).
Although Star Wars will always do well and continue to churn out content, there is a concern about censorship. Censorship has a history in America, though it seems to have more to do with what is acceptable to see sexually. Just as recently as this year, HBO Max’s animated series Harley Quinn was censored. While animated, the show is notable for its graphic depictions of violence and language. But that wasn’t what was censored. Harley Quinn was forced to not include a sex scene with Batman. DC had issues with this depiction because it portrayed Batman performing oral sex on Catwoman. A spokesperson stated “heroes don’t do that.” This is not the first time oral sex on a female was censored. Blue Valentine was given an NC17 rating for its oral sex scene as well (via NY Daily News).
Star Wars isn’t rife with sex scenes but still was penalized for its depictions. With Disney and HBO Max pushing its streaming platform, it’s safe to say that Star Wars and Lord of the Rings aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, Star Wars continues to push forward with more content than ever. Fans are ecstatic about the new release of The Book of Boba Fett and the eventual return of The Mandalorian. These are sure to do as well as their successors. But there is just something iconic about the classics. As many fans attest, The Empire Strikes Back is the best in the trilogy (via CBR). The film has longevity, despite the labels attached to it.