Type of media Film
Approved Running time 123m 48s
Release date 02/01/2009
BBFCInsight Contains strong sex
Director(s) Stephen Daldry
Cast includes Kate Winslet, Ralph Fiennes, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, David Kross, Karoline Herfurth, Volker Bruch, Linda Bassett, Hannah Herzsprung, Susanne Lothar, Matthias Habich, Jurgen Tarrach, Jeanette Hain, Kirsten Block, Claudia Michelsen
Cut This work was passed uncut.
BBFCinsight publication date 23/12/2008
Note: The following text may contain spoilers
THE READER is a drama about a man, Michael Berg, whose life is strongly affected by guilt over his teenage affair with a much older woman, Hanna Schimitz, whom he later discovers, as a law student observing a war crimes trial, to have been an SS guard.
It was passed '15' for strong sex with nudity, including exposed breasts, and implied penetration.
There are several sex scenes between the naked Hanna and Michael during the first 30 minutes of the film, often with her breasts exposed but without sight of either's genitalia. Most are impressionistic and rely on restrained details such as gentle body movements and hands grasping bare buttocks. These fit '12A' guidelines which say that sexual activity may be implied but breaches another aspect of '12A' guidelines which say that nudity is allowed , but in a sexual context must be brief and discreet. '15' is more appropriate for their cumulative effect and also required for the strongest scene. This shows Hanna on her back as she positions one of her legs on Michael's shoulder while she uses her hand - implied by her upper arm movement - to guide Michael to penetration - also implied, by above waist movement, her sudden gasp of pleasure and the pair's expressions. '15' guidelines permit nudity in a sexual context but without strong detail, and the portrayal of sexual activity without strong detail. All the sex scenes are tender and reflect a loving relationship between the couple.
'15' guidelines say that there are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual context. Such are the various scenes that occur when the couple lie naked in bed as Michael reads to Hanna, or while they talk. In a different scene, Michael's genitalia - with flaccid penis - are exposed briefly when he stands still and naked to be washed by Hanna.
Verbal and visual references to the Holocaust arise during Hanna's trial and are moderately intense. The judge details the charge against Hanna: that 300 people had been killed by bombs as a result of her order not to unlock the doors of the church in which they had been imprisoned; and during Michael's visit to a death camp, he sees reminders such as cages filled with shoes that had belonged to the inmates, an empty room with innocuous-looking pipes that criss-cross the ceiling, and the neat row of ovens that had been used to incinerate the bodies.
Mild language consists of two uses of 'hell'. There is a brief scene of implied hanging: Hanna steps on to a platform of books on top of a table but there is no detail of what is above her. A number of scenes show the student Michael smoking; these are not a promotion of smoking but reflect a widespread habit of the era.
- THE READER
- Entertainment Film Dists Ltd
- Classified date(s)
- Main language
- Submitted run time
- 123m 48s
- Approved footage
- BBFC reference
- Registration number