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Ghost Writer, The

Comparison:

  • PG-13
  • International Version
Release: Apr 12, 2014 - Author: Mike Lowrey - Translator: Mike Lowrey - external link: IMDB
Even though Roman Polanski can't set foot on US soil for several decades already and was even arrested in Switzerland in 2009 during the post production of The Ghost Writer, he manages to regularly shoot films with well-known actors and get critical acclaim for his films. The Ghost Writer (for which he finished editing while being in a Swiss jail), he could get Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan as the leads and even get top notch actors for even the smallest roles. The novel behind the film was written by Robert Harris and is loosely based on the case of former British prime minister Tony Blair who got accused of war crimes later on. And so, several details clearly hint at that situation. The film manages to keep a steady and sublime tension all the way through the end and is certainly worth a watch.

The film is no American production and thus wasn't conceptualized for a specific MPAA rating as it is often the case with US productions. The few violent moments are not an issue anyway but the language is even more so. In the US, the lucrative "PG-13" rating requires that vulgar dialogue is severely limited. "Fuck" can only be used in small doses what e.g. Harvey Weinstein had to learn in his battles with the MPAA over ratings for The King's Speech, Bully and Philomena which he didn't always win in the end. For The Ghost Writer, this was a hardly noticed side aspect which we want to address nonetheless. In the UK (among others), the uncensored audio track is used for the film. It features the f-word multiple times and also the c-word is used once. For the PG-13 rating (for language, brief nudity/sexuality, some violence and a drug reference), the studio replaced most of those terms in a relatively ham-fisted manner by dubbing or muting. It doesn't sound like the actors themselves were involved in it and no attention was drawn to the lip movements either. In the end, the US get two instances of the f-word.

At last: a little sidenote bares some irony. The UK DVD offers a making of featurette that contains some snippets from the film, including a scene where a censored dialogue from the US version is used.

Comparison between the PG-13 DVD (by Summit Entertainment) and the uncensored UK DVD (by Optimum Home Entertainment).
0:02:33: As the agent tells the ghost writer that Lang doesn't search for another assistant, he is a little less vulgar in the PG-13 version.

UK: "Look, it's a new ghostwriter he needs, not another fucking politico."
US: "Look, it's a new ghostwriter he needs, not another goddamn politico."
No time difference



0:15:14: Ruth can be heard shouting angrily and here, the PG-13 has more than just a word replaced.

UK: "This is absolutely bloody ridiculous! Actually, forget I said that, it's fucking ridiculous!"
US: "This is an absolute scandal! Actually, forget I said that, it's bloody ridiculous!"
No time difference



0:17:21: A new kind of alteration here. When the ghost writer reads the introduction of Lang's memoirs, he exhales with an audible "fuck". In the PG-13, this is toned down so that it almost sounds like a whisper.
No time difference



0:30:08: The PG-13 dubs the f-word when Lang delivers his explanation.

UK: "And whenever my opponents were stuck with something to hit me with, they always said I was a fucking actor!"
US: "And whenever my opponents were stuck with something to hit me with, they always said I was a bloody actor!"
No time difference



0:32:33: Ruth's rude usage of a word has been changed. A little more subtle this time.

UK: "Now? What fucking use is now?"
US: "Now? What freaking use is now?"
No time difference



0:34:28: The ghost writer is bewildered and says: "fuck". In the PG-13, it's "shit".
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0:36:17: When the man passes the ghost writer, he calls him a "cunt", while it's just "asshole." in the PG-13.
No time difference



0:38:32: Lang's bodyguard sees the waiting reporters and comments it differently in both versions.

UK: "Oh, fuck it. Here we go again."
US: "Oh, sod it. Here we go again."
No time difference



0:39:07: As the police man holds the protesting people away from the car, he shouts: "I said, get the fuck back!". In the PG-13 version, he's silent. This marks the first dialogue deletion in the film.
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0:42:57: When Lang insults Rycart on the television, he uses a different term in both versions.

UK: "You cheeky fuck!"
US: "You cheeky bugger!"
No time difference



0:43:34: Lang isn't so nice to the British parliament, either. In the PG-13 he is a little less direct, though.

UK: "If the British government wants to hand me over to this kangaroo court, then fuck them!"
US: "If the British government wants to hand me over to this kangaroo court, then sod them!"
No time difference



1:10:15: As Ruth interrupts the ghost writer, she uses a different expression for their shared activity the night before.

UK: "With you fucking the client's wife?"
US: "With you screwing the client's wife?"
No time difference



1:11:35: The ghost writer reacts differently to the bodyguard's remark.

UK: "Why don't you just fuck off."
US: "Why don't you just piss off."
No time difference



1:29:41: When the ghost writer knocks over the waitress, she screams at him in anger. Unfortunately, that is inaudible but sounds quite aggressive. In the PG-13, she doesn't express her opinion towards him.
No time difference



1:30:52: When the answering machine takes the call, the ghost writer is stressed out and curses. In the US, it's a little milder.

UK: "Fuck off."
US: "Piss off."
No time difference



1:31:15: His reaction to the information that the next possible flight doesn't take off before the next morning differs, as well.

UK: "Fuck."
US: "Shit."
No time difference





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