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BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO <span>(2012)</span> artwork


Type Feature

Approx. Running minutes 90

Release dates 31/08/2012

BBFCInsight Contains sustained psychological threat and references to sexual violence

Genre(s) Drama

Director(s) Peter Strickland

Cast includes Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Susanna Cappellaro, Layla Amir

Cut All known versions of this work passed uncut.

BBFCinsight publication date 21/08/2012

Note: The following text may contain spoilers

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO is a psychological drama about an English sound mixer in the 1970s who arrives to work on an Italian horror film and gradually loses his grip over both film and reality. It was classified '15' for sustained psychological threat and references to sexual violence.

The film contains several scenes of psychological threat and pseudo-horror. There are scenes focusing on women screaming inside the recording booth as they provide dubbed sounds for a horror film. There are also sounds of violence and sexualised violence recreated in the studio by the use of knives and other props. The film creates an atmosphere of increasing psychological threat through the juxtaposition of recordings of women screaming, close ups of objects being stabbed in order to produce sound effects, close-ups on a human eye and the flashing red 'Silenzio' ('Silence') sign in the studio. The strongest image of threat and horror comes when the sound mixer has a vision of a pale-faced woman entering his bedroom and charging towards him with a knife. The scene plays out entirely without sound, an aural contrast which adds to the sense of psychological threat. Although individual moments of threat are not necessarily strong in themselves, the sustained sense of threat exceeds the terms of the BBFC's Guidelines at '12A'/'12' which state 'Moderate physical and psychological threat may be permitted, provided disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained'. At '15', the Guidelines state 'Strong threat and menace are permitted unless sadistic or sexualised'.

The film also contains verbal references to sexual violence. These mostly occur in subtitled Italian when the cast and crew of the film-within-the-film make references to the dialogue of the film they are producing These include phrases such as "'It is better than being penetrated by a red hot poker... a red hot poker in a woman's vagina is an intense experience". These verbal references to sexual violence, as well as other strong sexual references, exceed the terms of the Guidelines at '12A'/'12' and are more appropriately classified at '15' where 'There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence'.

The film also contains some mild bad language (eg 'ass', 'bastard') and some moderate sex references.


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Cinema, DVD
Artificial Eye Film Co. Ltd
Classified date(s)
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