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Kingsman - No Censorship in the UK and the US

All-Clear Here, Worldwide Situation Still Complex

The action comedy Kingsman - The Secret Service has British influences in many ways and some of them make the film an interesting case in terms of censorship, as well. The British-American co-production by British director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) has a British plot that is clearly directed at an adult audience. It offers much over-the-top violence that is comedically overdone and thus already takes the seriousness out of the scenes. Otherwise, some moviegoers could have had a harder time with the gore depicted on the big screen. But the way it went down, it took in $404 million worldwide on a $81 million budget and a sequel is already in the works.

That is an overwhelmingly positive outcome considering the starting point wasn't all that great. Before its theatrical release, the BBFC announced that 20th Century Fox submitted the movie during post-production in order to see what rating it would probably receive. The BBFC suggested the "18" rating which was too high for Fox which then went on to modify the film according to BBFC advice on how to get the desired "15" classification. Eventually, this became the rating the film would go with.

In other markets, it got ratings in the same range (US: rated R, Germany: FSK 16). It could only be guessed whether those British adjustments would also affect foreign territories - it was a British co-production after all. A slight beacon of hope was the runtime of the German theatrical version that ran 51 seconds longer according to the FSK database. Was this a sign that the British version was censored but that other countries could still expect a true uncut release?

Well, not if you believe director Matthew Vaughn's statement over at Den of Geek where he clearly denied having changed a single frame:

I should ask you just to clarify the certification of the film in the UK...

I haven't changed a fucking frame!

Absolutely nothing? The BBFC posted that "certain changes were made prior to submission" to get a 15 certificate in the UK?

Nothing. You've seen it!

I didn't see evidence of anything being cut out! I half expected an 18 certificate, but I don't fully know hw the BBFC works.

They're pretty intelligent people, the BBFC. And I think they get it right most of the time. They watched it, and I sat down with them. The violence is fun. You don't see people grimacing. They're laughing with it. It's like Tom & Jerry. It's over the top and colourful and playful.

It's still up to interpretation whether he means that he didn't cut anything after the pre-production adjustments were made or if he totally rejects the BBFC's information.

What is clear is that the British home video version - also rated BBFC 15 - is completely identical to the German and US version. We had all 3 original releases and compared them. No censorship could be found between them.

That has to be noted especially since many film fans took to message boards saying that the infamous "anal sex joke" (where princess Tilde offers Eggsy her rear entrance in case he is successful: "If you save the world, we can do it in the asshole.") was missing as well as a shot of her bare ass (without actually showing anything that probably happened afterwards). Since dvdcompare.net lists the releases of other territories such as the Baltic States, the Netherlands and Italy with the same runtime, it can be expected that the uncensored version has found a wide distribution and that there isn't an even more uncut version out there.

Especially the countries in the Middle East and Asia partly have drastically different viewing standards, influenced e.g. by political, cultural and religious attitudes that are in crass contrast with the West. For those reasons, censorship is nothing unusual and even a complete ban is nothing that can shock studios anymore. And since Kingsman has quite the offensive usage of both violence and moral humor, that caused some problems in several markets. According to the imdb, the church massacre scene was completely removed in Vietnam, Argentinia and Indonesia while it was partly cut in Latin America. In other, unspecified territories, the anal sex joke and the shot of the naked butt mentioned above were cut out.

It is in fact possible that the users complaining about missing scenes were indeed from those affected countries. The internet is a large virtual discussion table that invites people from all over the world. At least movie fans in the markets enumerated above are not affected by additional censorship and can rest assured. For all others, an import might be an attractive option.

You can order Kingsman - The Secret Service either at Amazon.co.uk or at Amazon.com.

Release: Jul 23, 2015 - Author: Mike Lowrey - Translator: Mike Lowrey

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