Posted on Monday, March 30th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
Let’s get one thing clear to begin with: there’s nothing wrong with the MPAA giving Bruno an NC-17 rating, but everything wrong with Universal then deciding to cut the film instead of release it intact and also, crucially, with cinema chains (and even adult audiences) turning a cold shoulder to NC-17 rated films.
Sharon Waxman has reported on the MPAA’s decision, and detailed a few bits and pieces from the film that may have convinced them. She also tells us what Sacha Baron Cohen and Co are currently doing, and what the likely outcome will be – in case we couldn’t guess.
Apparently, Bruno‘s team are at once preparing a new edit to try out for an R and winding up an appeal against this initial MPAA decision. Of course, neither would be necessary in an ideal world and the NC-17 rating would stick, cinema chains would still book it into countless screens and adults would book their babysitters and turn out in huge numbers. America is not an ideal world, however.
Waxman references some specific scenes that she believes to be “objectionable,” at least to the MPAA. These include a sex scene between Bruno and another character and some of the “documentary” material featuring Bruno, stripped naked, making an unexpected visit to the tent of a hunter while out on an expedition. The whole enterprise is devised, of course, to challenge bigotry and the big ol’ bigoted bigots who practice it and, frankly, I’m overjoyed that there are filmmakers out there like Cohen and his collaborators pushing, and prodding and provoking. Bruno is likely to be the funniest film of the year; I have no doubt it will also be one of the most worthwhile.
Here’s some more to whet your appetite. Waxman describes a sequence that was previewed at SXSW:
In one scene showed at the festival, Bruno auditioned children for a subversive movie with a number of offensive acts. Clueless stage moms agreed to the increasingly absurd requirements set forth by the actor, including one woman admitting that her infant daughter could lose seven pounds in a week to fit the part. Finally, Bruno told her about the scene, in which the child had to dress as a Nazi pushing someone into an oven.
I’d expect the BBFC to pass the film completely uncut for an 18 rating in the UK. Should Universal end up releasing an R rated cut in the US, however, it is likely to be that version they submit to censorship and classification boards and therefore release elsewhere around the globe. We all suffer, and the filmmakers’ intentions are smoothed-off worldwide, just because of the corporate interests and narrow minds prevalent in big-money US cinema. Sickening.
Ultimately, there’s every chance of an unrated Bruno DVD with all of this material intact and who-knows-what in the special features. Again, in the UK that full package would most likely get an 18 with no cuts; in the US, it would technically not carry any advice, and no legal restriction upon the screening of the film to children. Surely anybody can see the hypocrisy in this?
Bruno isn’t due until July so there’s plenty of time for a political revolution that will put all of this right. Ahem.