THE Irish Film Classification Office has defended its decision to give the green light to the most sexually graphic movie ever to be shown here.
Nymphomaniac – a five-and-a-half-hour epic about a self-confessed female sex addict – will be released in cinemas next week.
IFCO acting director of film classification Ger Connolly acknowledged that the public will be divided over his decision to pass the film – which will be released in hardcore and softcore versions.
He told the Sunday Independent: "It's the decision I have come to and I've no doubt different people will have different feelings about it, and I have no doubt that this will offend some people, but that's as far as I will go.
"This film, some will see it as a piece of art, some won't, but I don't critique films, it's not my job to critique," he said.
Mr Connolly also warned people to be fully aware of the guidelines before going to a screening.
"I think that it's important that when we classify a film we give the consumer advice that will enable them to know whether they want to see it or not. The advice given on this, particularly in part two, could not be more clear. It is not an erotic movie," he said.
"I just supply the consumer advice so people will be equipped with the tools to know what they are about to watch. Different people might give different weight to different content. But they need to know the reasons as to why it has a certain classification and to be equipped with that information before they see it."
The movie has been rated 18 by IFCO, with part two coming with the warning: "Frequent and very explicit sexual content. Very violent scenes of sadomasochism. Strong violence. This will be offensive to some viewers."
Mr Connolly said the role of IFCO has changed in recent years, but that it still could have blocked the film from being screened here.
"We have moved to film classification without losing the power to prohibit. In the last couple of years I upheld an appeal to prohibit the movie Spit on your Grave, so it is still within our remit to do it."
There has been much debate in recent years about whether pornographic content has a negative impact on the brain.
Newspapers have reported that guests emerged from the Copenhagen screening looking shell-shocked by the experience, but Mr Connolly has said that the viewer's frame of reference is vital when watching graphic content: "Context is incredibly important. For example, if you want to take drug use, if it shows the damage and the consequences, it would be a total different situation than if it were glamorising it."
Only a handful of cinemas will show Nymphomaniac due to the limited appetite for the controversial film, which is the work of the renowned Danish director Lars von Trier.
"It will only be shown in two or three screens in the country because the Von Tier audience is a very limited audience. The warnings are clearly labelled," Mr Connolly said.
The film has been billed as an exploration of the erotic life of a woman from infancy to middle age.
It comes two years after Von Tier was expelled from the Cannes film festival after joking he was a Nazi.
The film will be shown in two parts at the Irish Film Institute and selected cinemas nationwide from February 28.