Published: 19th April 2012

What The Censor Saw

The 15th British Silent Film Festival will be running at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse from 19th to 22nd April, and our Education Officer Lucy Brett will be appearing with Bryony Dixon, Curator of Silent Film at the BFI, to discuss ‘What the Silent Censor Saw’ .

From the first day of business in 1912 all submissions to the BBFC were recorded by hand in our registers (and this continued up until the mid-1990s when new computer systems were introduced). The images published below show the 1923 entry for Maisie’s Marriage, one of the films that will be discussed and shown at the Silent Film Festival.

Based on the 1918 book ‘Married Love’, by Dr. Marie Stopes, it was a controversial film which attempted to explore the subject of birth control, in part through the use of euphemism-driven images of babies, rose gardens and pruning. Initially submitted with the title Married Love the BBFC removed a number of the birth control references. The register notes that 880ft of the 5570ft submitted was deleted (which equates to approx. 14 minutes of an 85 minute film), subtitles were altered and that the film was given an A certificate (more suitable for adults) with the title Maisie’s Marriage.

Learn more about how the BBFC considered film in the silent era at the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse on Friday 20th April, 17.30.

Originally posted April 19th, 2012.