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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.


Dawn Of The Dead

Genre: Horror

American film director George A. Romero built his reputation on being the creator of the modern horror zombie movie. His debut feature Night Of The Living Dead (1968) redefined the genre, introducing new levels of graphic violence that were to influence cinematic trends throughout the 1970s and...

Death Wish

Genre: Crime, Drama

Michael Winner's adaptation of Brian Garfield's 1972 novel about a vigilante at large in New York City had already caused quite a stir in the United States when it was first seen by the BBFC in September 1974.

Don't Look Now

Genre: Thriller

British director Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 supernatural mystery-drama, based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier and starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland, provides an interesting picture of changes in attitudes towards the classification of sex in films.


Genre: Action, Drama, War

Dunkirk is a British war film written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It tells the story of the Allied evacuation from Northern France during World War II. Nolan splits the narrative into three distinct but interconnected sections, each taking place within a different time frame.