Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a period drama, based on D.H. Lawrence's novel, in which a married woman has an intense affair with a male gamekeeper who works on her estate.
The film will be released in UK cinemas on 25 November 2022. Ahead of the film’s big-screen debut, we’ve put together a helpful guide to provide viewers with more information about our classification decision-making, alongside some further information about our Classification Guidelines at 15.
Rated 15 for strong sex, nudity, language
There is strong language ('f**k'), as well as milder terms (for example, 'bloody', 'God', 'Jesus', 'damn', 'hell').
There are scenes of strong nudity, including genital nudity which is occasionally shown in close-up. The nudity occurs in sexual contexts.
There are frequent scenes of strong sex, including masturbation and oral sex, that feature breast and buttock nudity.
There are scenes of emotional upset, as well as a scene in which a man speaks in derogatory fashion about an Irishman remarking that "He's got the manners of a Dublin street rat".
Why is Lady Chatterley’s Lover classified 15?
(This section may include spoilers for the film)
Our Classification Guidelines on sex at 15 say: “Sexual activity may be portrayed, but usually without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour. Repeated very strong references, particularly those using pornographic language, are unlikely to be acceptable.” Whilst there are scenes of strong sex in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, they do not contain explicit detail, nor do the sex references incorporate pornographic language. Our ratings info clearly denotes ‘strong sex’ to provide audiences with a clear indication of the level and intensity of sex that is likely to be expected.
Nudity is another aspect that contributed towards the 15 rating. Our Guidelines on nudity at 15 say: “There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context. Sexual nudity may be permitted but strong detail is likely to be brief or presented in a comic context.” In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, there are moments of nudity that are permissible within the guidelines at 15, although warranted mention in our ratings info to enable audiences to make an informed viewing choice. Although some scenes linger on nudity, these sequences are not explicitly sexual and are instead evocative of the young lovers’ ties with the natural world and Lady Chatterley’s sexual awakening. Nudity also occurs within sexual contexts, but stronger detail in these scenes is fleeting and otherwise well-precedented at 15.
As part of the discussion around sex references during our 2019 guidelines consultation, various clips from films and episodic content were also used to gauge audience attitudes to sexual detail at 15. Some clips included fleeting sight of male erections, for example, and respondents felt these were acceptable at 15 in context.
Another issue highlighted in our ratings info is language. At 15, our Guidelines say: “There may be strong language. Very strong language may be permitted, depending on the manner in which it is used, who is using the language, its frequency within the work as a whole and any special contextual justification.” There are several uses of strong language (‘f**k’) in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but these sit comfortably within the framework of our Guidelines at 15.
What does our research say?
We classify content in line with our published Classification Guidelines, which are the result of wide-scale consultations with thousands of people from across the UK, extensive research, and more than 100 years of experience. They are updated every four to five years to ensure that our standards continue to reflect the expectations and values of people across the country. We also work closely with experts in particular fields, including child psychologists, education professionals, charities, and other organisations to inform our approach.
The wider context in which content appears has a significant bearing on the classification and we take into account audience’s views and expectations of sex at 15. Our most recent report findings found that people (including parents and caregivers) are more accepting of depictions of sex that are consensual and respectful, such as those evident in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
By contrast, people told us that they expect the strongest sex references, in particular those that tap into pornographic language, to be classified at 18. Respondents said that content that focuses on depictions of BDSM sex, should also be more likely to be classified 18. For example, an 18 classification for Fifty Shades of Grey was considered appropriate because of the film’s BDSM and sexual fetish theme.
In Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the characters do not engage in sexual activities that would extend beyond the maturity of teenagers, and therefore the film does not exceed the boundaries of a 15 age rating. Additionally, the focus is on the eponymous character’s sexual self-awakening, positively exploring desire and female sexual pleasure through the framework of a passionate and tender relationship within a historical period setting and based on a well-known novel.