British Board of Film Classification

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BURKE & HARE artwork


Type of media Film

Approved Running time 91m 25s

BBFCInsight Contains strong sex and medical gore

Genre(s) Comedy, Drama

Director(s) John Landis

Cast includes Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Christopher Lee, Tim Curry, Tom Wilkinson, Isla Fisher, Jessuca Hynes, Stephen Merchant, Jenny Agutter, Hugh Bonneville, Bill Bailey, Ronnie Corbett

Cut This work was passed uncut.

BBFCinsight publication date 26/10/2010

Note: The following text may contain spoilers

BURKE AND HARE is a comedy drama based on the story of the notorious 19th century murderers, who sold the bodies of their victims to the medical profession. The film was classified ‘15’ for strong sex and medical gore.

The film features one scene of strong sex. We see a man and woman having sex in bed as they carry on a conversation about unrelated matters. Although nudity is not shown and the overall tone of the scene is comic, the sequence is quite protracted with strong emphasis on sexual thrusting. The BBFC's Guidelines at ‘12A’/’12’ state that ‘Sexual activity may be briefly and discreetly portrayed’ and this scene is neither brief nor discreet. The scene is therefore more appropriately placed at '15' where the Guidelines allow for sexual activity provided it is 'portrayed without strong detail'.

There are numerous scenes of medical gore throughout the film as the bodies that Burke and Hare have collected are dissected. Many of these scenes show blood and viscera. The Guidelines at ‘12A’/’12’ state that ‘There should be no emphasis on injuries or blood, but occasional gory moments may be permitted if justified by the context’. The bloody detail shown in BURKE AND HARE is more than occasional. However, the scenes in question do not breach the Guidelines at ‘15’ by dwelling ‘on the infliction of pain or injury' and nor do they present the ‘strongest gory images’. The comedic, fantastical tone of the film as a whole means that even the stronger moments have a lighter counterbalance.

The film also contains three uses of strong language.


Entertainment Film Dists Ltd
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Submitted run time
91m 25s
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