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Case studies

Welcome to the BBFC Case Studies. They are all written by BBFC staff and explore how and why works were rated, cut or even banned.

Please note that all our Case Studies and From The Archive files are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,) without prior written permission of the BBFC. You should email us if you wish to reproduce any of these materials.

The film Case Studies tell you why we did what we did and offer background information that you won’t find anywhere else. Find out why some films and BBFC decisions were discussed in the news media, what works were complained about, and which ratings were praised. You can also browse our From The Archive studies which showcase fascinating historical artefacts from our archives and listen to our popular Podcasts. 

Some like A Clockwork Orange are works you will definitely have heard of. Others like Freaks are lesser known but important films. And some are films like Juno and Fight Club that you might have seen but had no idea they caused a stir when submitted to the BBFC. We provide Case Studies for all films we introduce as part of our longstanding relationship with Film Education’s National Schools Film Week.  Though we no longer rate video games there are some video games case studies which should offer an historical view of how we treated some well-known video games.

We regularly update the Case Studies, and add new titles several times a year. We welcome suggestions for new Case Studies, but, as each one takes a while to research and write, we prioritise requests. You can email us to suggest a Case Study.

If you are researching a specific title and would like access to the BBFC's paper file archive this may be possible depending on the age of the work. You can request access to our archive in Education resources.



Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Baise-moi is a French crime thriller about two young women who, marginalised by society and troubled by their experiences of rape, prostitution and pornography, meet by chance and embark on a violent killing spree.

Battleship Potemkin

Genre: Drama

Sergei Eisentein's silent classic was made in 1925 as a homage to the abortive 1905 Russian naval mutiny. The film, like many Russian silents of the time, was clearly, carefully and powerfully designed as pro-Bolshevik propaganda.

Ben X

Genre: Drama

Nic Balthazar’s film, based on his own novel, is about the difficulties of being different in a society that values conformity, and sometimes punishes those who don’t fit in. Ben is a young man with a condition called Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. People with this condition have problems...

Black Swan

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Black Swan presented the BBFC with a whole range of classification issues when it was submitted for an advice viewing in 2010. The story is about Nina - a dedicated ballerina who is quietly desperate for the part of the Swan Queen in her company's up-coming re-imagining of Swan Lake.

Blackboard Jungle

Genre: Drama

The 1950s in the UK saw the end of rationing and a gradual increase in prosperity for those who, as Prime Minister Macmillan stated, ‘have never had it so good’. One result of this apparent affluence was the emergence of 'youth' as a group with a defined identity, and as a target for consumer...


Genre: Drama, Thriller

Newcomer Rian Johnson's first feature Brick is a modern film noir, set in a small-town American high school. The plot revolves around mysterious loner Brendan Frye and his attempts to discover the events that led to the death of Emily, his ex-girlfriend.Brick was submitted for classification in...

Brokeback Mountain

Genre: Drama

Brokeback Mountain was a critically acclaimed (winning the Golden Lion in Venice) and widely anticipated film release in 2005. It teamed up an Oscar winning filmmaker, Ang Lee, with a highly regarded author, E Annie Proulx, and starred two young actors (Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger) tipped for...

Bullet Boy

Genre: Drama

Saul Dibb's London based drama Bullet Boy arrived at the BBFC with no category request. Trailers for the film, which were intense and included sight of a small child with a gun and some implied threat and (unseen) violence, had been passed 12A.

Bully / Canis Canem Edit

Genre: Action, Adventure

Given the notoriety of Rockstar's other, more infamous franchises, it was no surprise that the videogame Bully should have aroused public unease in the period before its publication in 2008.