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Wednesday 27 August 2014

'The Hunger Games' topped complaints to film censor

Cormac McQuinn

Published 04/01/2014 | 02:30

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Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

BLOCKBUSTER film 'The Hunger Games' was responsible for the most complaints to the Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) in the last two years, newly-released figures reveal.

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The agency, which decides the appropriate age rating for newly-released films, received 51 complaints from parents and cinema-goers -- mostly about sex and violence -- and questioning IFCO's decisions.

'The Hunger Games', which was released in late 2012, accounted for five complaints, followed by the Asian tsunami drama 'The Impossible' (four complaints); Tom Cruise action-flick 'Jack Reacher' (three); the most recent Batman film, 'Dark Knight Rises', and 'Ted', starring Mark Wahlberg, which sparked two complaints each.

While 'The Hunger Games' was the most-complained about film, IFCO has not received any relating to the sequel, 'Catching Fire', which was released in November.

Rated 12A -- which allows under-12s to see the film if accompanied by an adult -- the series, starring Jennifer Lawrence, chronicles a post-apocalyptic future where teenagers are rounded up and thrown into an arena where they must fight to the death.

One parent wrote to the acting director of film classification Ger Connolly, saying that the film contained "teenagers killing each other!! Stabbing each other, twisting each other's necks off, beating each other to death, a little black girl got an arrow into the chest," adding: "That's when the children started crying."

A man (36) who saw the film wrote: "A theme of kids killing other kids throughout is disturbing no matter what age you are."

Another complainant called on the IFCO to "look at the subliminal effects of such films", claiming they "contribute to the violence on Irish streets".

Mr Connolly responded to the complaints, agreeing that 'The Hunger Games' included "some very intense and challenging material". He said it was viewed on a number of occasions before the 12A rating was decided upon.

He said the theme of "child vs child gladiatorial combat is shocking" but is "not altogether unfamiliar in works for adolescents", citing the William Golding book 'Lord of the Flies'.

Mr Connolly said that the violence in the movie was "not explicit or gratuitous".

IFCO's view was that the film was suitable for children aged 12 and upwards but the 12A certificate was introduced to "empower parents to make their own decisions".

Mr Connolly added that this was "predicated on the understanding that parents will have researched the content" before deciding to bring a child under 12.

A number of the complaints received by IFCO related to cinemas that allowed underage children into unsuitable films.

Meanwhile, in a sign that it's impossible for the classification office to please everybody, a movie-goer complained that it had "cut lots" from the gross-out horror film 'The Human Centipede 2', asking: "Don't you think passing it with an 18 cert is okay as adults should be able to view what they want?"

Irish Independent

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