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Chained

Comparison:

  • R-Rated
  • NC-17
Release: May 24, 2013 - Author: Mike Lowrey - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB
Chained is the fourth feature film directed by Jennifer Chambers-Lynch, daughter of director David Lynch. It is a dark and humorless character study that manages to tell its story without relying too much on brutality. Mostly, it's enough to hint at the cruel acts that are performed without actually showing them. We get a good sense of the remorselessness of serial killer Bob, who works as a taxi driver and picks up women that fit his taste. The counterpart that has the viewer's sympathies is Rabbit, who lived in Bob's house as a prisoner for many years and for whom you hope that he can escape one day and doesn't follow Bob's path. This way, the film manages to keep the viewer interested but challenges that satisfaction with an ending that is deemed too rushed and unnecessary by most critics. Lynch herself partly agreed with that and said that it was due to runtime issues. Maybe we'll get a Director's Cut in the future, the film would surely benefit from that since it managed to use the space it got very well before that last chapter.

In the US, Chained got a limited theatrical release. Given its content, a wider release might not have been a success story and a financial risk for the distributor on top of that. Nevertheless, an "R" rating was required and the MPAA was not willing to give it to the film. Even after an appeal, the NC-17 (for some explicit violence) stood rock solid. The MPAA wasn't concerned about the rape scene but had its problems with a graphic throat slit. Thus, the filmmakers finally agreed to alter that scene in order to get the "R". Those film fans who looked forward to see the movie could keep up their hopes that the home video releases would contain the uncensored version after all. However, for US customers, that didn't quite come true. The DVD and Blu-ray include the "R" rated version and put the problematic scene into the bonus section. That might be a nice little gimmick but it's still not the perfect solution.

The German distributor Capelight Pictures shows that it could have been possible to go the other way. Aware of the censorship situation, they asked the licensing company to give them the NC-17 version and this was indeed successful. This fan-friendly behavior is a nice example of how enough engagement can actually lead to superior products. Maybe some US customers might consider an import.

Comparison between the US R-rated DVD (by Anchor Bay) and the uncensored, German Blu-ray (FSK Keine Jugendfreigabe = NC-17) (by Capelight Pictures).

3 alternate shots = no time difference
The scene with the throat slit was not cut but is more harmless in the "R"-rated version. Director Lynch has the following to say about the scene in her audio commentary:

"The entire special effects budget was three grand for this movie and it was the best throat slit I've ever seen. [...] See? The whole thing's closed up now. Oh my God, the whole neck was open a good inch. I couldn't believe that of all the things that happen in movies... The MPAA said that the film was so authentic and real that that moment was too much."

0:41:30: Much blood flows out of Mary's throat and she rattles.
No time difference

R-RatedNC-17 / FSK Keine Jugendfreigabe



0:41:37: Mary drops to her knees and her head tilts backwards.
No time difference

R-RatedNC-17 / FSK Keine Jugendfreigabe



0:41:43: Side shot of her falling on the floor and again, the NC-17 has more blood.
No time difference

R-RatedNC-17 / FSK Keine Jugendfreigabe

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