When Gunnel Arrbäck became the director of the Swedish Board of Film Classification 26 years ago, Sweden only had two TV-channels and the cinema! The video arrived in 1981. Now she wants to get rid of the censorship for adults because the law they are working under is almost 100 years old.
“What I’ve been against for the last 15 years, is to still have censorship for adults in our country, which is a democracy. We have freedom of speech, freedom of expression – as a foundation in our constitution and the whole development of technology for moving pictures for the last 20-25 years also means that we are a bit obsolete, actually. Because we have control only over public viewing – that is cinema – while the public, when they take part of films or similar programmes do it in the cinema in about five percent of the cases. The other 95 come through other channels.”
What is it exactly you are censoring because you don’t censor any sexual scenes or sexuality or things like that, it’s mainly violence you’re focusing on?
“We haven’t prohibited anything for adults in the movies for about 12 years. So what we actually do is classifying. Saying, this is for all; this is for seven-year-olds; eleven-year-olds or fifteen-year-olds. But we have the possibility to prohibit a movie if we found that a movie or part of a movie might have a dehumanising or desensitising effect on people. What we judge are not the pictures in themselves but the possible effect they might have.”
And what was the last movie 12 years ago that you did censor?
What was it that made you cut out those scenes?
“There was one torture scene and one scene at the end where people are beaten almost to death with baseball bats and then, still alive, buried. And those were very brutal scenes. And in those days we actually thought that this might have an effect on adults.”
In what way would it affect them – that they would feel disgusted, they will get scared or they would actually go out and do something similar themselves?
“If there is any effect of that kind that we are talking about, it should be the last one, that it should, well not going out and do the same thing exactly but feeling that this might be a possibility to get at someone you’re really angry with. But the conclusion that we have come to after that is that no movie or no number of movies in themselves can have that effect on people who are adults.”
Another thing that hit the headlines world-wide was 25 years ago, 1982 when E.T. came out and the Swedish Board of Film Classification decided that E.T. was a movie for eleven-year-olds and above.
“That is the one and only time that I’ve been on American television live. But one thing that you have to remember is that seven-year-olds in Sweden can’t read good enough to read the subtitles. We never dub films in Sweden, apart from those for very young children. So the movie still was in English, and much of the dialogue would be lost to seven-year-olds and younger of course. I think that was one of the factors, which of course the English speaking world wouldn’t understand.”
“Well, I didn’t use that explanation actually. I made a sort of attack instead. Because I wanted to show some of the difference between the Swedish way of thinking and the American way of thinking. And so what I said was something like: well, we might have been a bit too protective for your taste but on the other hand in American movies, men make love to women with their pants on.”
When you cut something out, what do you do with those clips or – is it a piece of tape – where does it go – do you keep it in an archive or do you throw it away?
“We keep it in an archive, certainly. And it’s meant to be for ever and ever.”
Can anyone come in and have a look at what you’ve cut out?
“Oh yes, definitely. We have a long tradition in Sweden of being very open in everything that is what we call in the public sector.”
“But I don’t see a line of people waiting outside your offices here at the agency wanting to see the bits that you have cut out from previous years.”
“No, but I can tell you – in the 80s and the beginning of the 90s when we did cut a lot, every Easter, when school children about the age of 15 to 17 had read in the leading national newspapers about this public access to our archives, there was a line, a queue.”Listen to the report:
The European Union is taking aim at manufactures this week with a proposal for tougher controls on toys made in China. The European Parliament will vote on Wednesday to introduce more rigorous checks on imported toys and impose fines on companies that make dangerous products. The move comes after a recall of Chinese-made toys by the US toy giant Mattel this summer because of loose parts and lead content in its products. So will this toy story have a happy ending? Radio Netherlands world wide’s Brussels correspondent Vanessa Mock reports.
After decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, republicans and unionists have been sharing power again since May. But many republicans want official recognition of the Irish language in the province. That, they argue, was part of last year’s St Andrew’s Agreement which paved the way for power sharing. As a result, a draft bill to protect and promote Irish has been drawn up but as Eric Heath reports; unionist politicians say they’ll veto it.
The polish government hasn’t endeared itself to other European states this year, upsetting Germany with references to the war many deemed inappropriate. And it seems intent on following that path again now. Less than a month before parliamentary elections in Poland it is still not clear if observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be allowed to monitor the campaign and the ballot itself. The OSCE has slammed Poland for refusing to issue an invitation but as we hear in this report from Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service the story is not that simple:
The politics of traffic is congesting the capital. Visitors coming to Prague from Holland or Scandinavia may get the impression that Czechs don't like cycling. Seeing bikes on the streets of the Czech capital isn’t unknown, but compared to other European cities, there are still very few of them. Besides, you almost never come across bicycles parked in the streets. Yet, strange as it may seem, statistics say that every second inhabitant of Prague is a bicycle owner and Czechs claim that cycling is their favorite sport. Radio Prague’s Ruth Frankova has been finding out.
From the silent dance of bicycles we go to the silent dance of the body, and to the man who made this form of art known around the globe. The world-famous master of mime Marcel Marceau died on September 22nd at the age of 84. Marceau achieved world fame when he created Bip, his on-stage persona, a sad-faced tragi-comic figure. Bip expressed happiness and hope, solitude and despair. He showed life in all its beauty and fragility. Radio France International’s Christine Pizziol-Griere has this report:
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