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Case studies

Welcome to the BBFC case studies. Written by BBFC staff, our case studies explore why a film has a particular age rating, if it was cut, or even banned.

Please note that all our case studies and 'From the archive' files are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise,) without prior written permission from the BBFC.  You should email us if you wish to reproduce any of these materials.

Our film case studies tell you why we made certain decisions and offer background information that you won’t find anywhere else. Find out why some films and their BBFC age rating were discussed in the news media, what films received complaints about their age rating, and which were praised.

Browse our From The Archive case studieto see fascinating historical artefacts from our archives and listen to our popular Podcasts

Some case studies are for films you will definitely have heard of, like A Clockwork Orange. Others like Freaks are lesser known but important films. Some are films like Juno and Fight Club that you might know of but weren’t aware they caused a stir when submitted to the BBFC. We provide case studies for all films we introduce as part of our longstanding relationship with IntoFilm. We no longer classify video games but there are some video games case studies which offer a historical view of how we classified some well-known video games.

We regularly update our case studies, and add new titles several times a year. We welcome suggestions for new case studies, but, as each one takes a while to research and write, we prioritise requests.You can email us to suggest a Case Study.

If you are researching a specific title and would like access to the BBFC's paper file archive this may be possible depending on the age of the work. You can request access to our archive in Education resources.


Salo/120 Days of Sodom

Genre: Drama, Thriller, War

Pasolini's final film, Salo, transposes the Marquis de Sade's notorious eighteenth century novel, '120 Days of Sodom', to Mussolini's short lived fascist republic of Salo at the end of World War Two. In the film a group of young people are rounded up by Italian fascists, taken to a secluded house...


Genre: Comedy, Horror

Severance is a British horror film with a comic edge about a group of workers from an arms company sent on a team-bonding exercise in some remote Hungarian woods who find themselves being terrorised and then picked-off by a band of local soldiers. The film is a second horror offering from its...


Genre: Drama

Shank is a low budget British feature set in London in the not too distant future. The city has ‘gone to hell’, is suffering a severe food shortage and is overrun by gangs of teens fighting and killing each other for the poor quality food available.Shank contained several classification issues...

Shaun of the Dead

Genre: Comedy, Horror

Shaun of the Dead is a horror comedy directed by Edgar Wright, written by the director with his long-term collaborator Simon Pegg, who appears in the title role.The film follows directionless electronics salesman Shaun and his friend Ed as they wake one morning to discover that a zombie apocalypse...


Genre: Drama

Shifty is a debut feature from writer/director Eran Creevy. Set in the outskirts of London, it charts the relationship between two friends: Chris, who is returning for a visit to his old neighbourhood after four years living away, and Shifty, the charismatic young drug dealer of the title.

Shock Corridor

Genre: Drama

In his autobiography What the Censor Saw (London: Michael Joseph, 1973), former BBFC Secretary John Trevelyan stated that “If mental illness is treated seriously […] it can be entirely acceptable as material for a film, but if treated sensationally I would find it totally unacceptable.”



Solaris is a 1972 film from the acclaimed Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky (Andrei Rublev, Stalker) and its history with the BBFC provides an insight into how classification issues are balanced with an appreciation of, and regard for, a particular work’s appeal and address.


Genre: Action

Skyfall director Sam Mendes returned to the James Bond franchise in 2015 with Spectre, the twenty-fourth film in the series.  Playwright Jez Butterworth joined Skyfall trio Robert Wade, John Logan and Neal Purvis in working on the script.


Genre: Action, Fantasy

The BBFC announced in September 2000 that it would look at the possibility of making the 12 cinema category an advisory category, like U and PG. This was in response to complaints from parents - particularly whenever a new James Bond film came out - who felt that they were better placed than the...

Stan and Ollie

Genre: BIOPIC, Comedy, Drama

Stan and Ollie is a biographical drama about two Hollywood comedy greats in their twilight years, touring Britain to pay debts and possibly jumpstart their creative partnership. 

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Genre: Action, Adventure, Science Fiction

Curriculum links: This case study can be used for those studying 'Content of Critical Approaches to Film: Section A: Contemporary British and US Film - Contemporary US film' on the A-level OCR specification.This hotly anticipated sequel to one of the most successful franchises of all time arrived...

Straight Outta Compton

Genre: BIOPIC, Drama

The film Straight Outta Compton was announced in late 2009. The film depicts the rise and fall of the rap group NWA and its members Eazy-E, Dr Dre and Ice Cube. Members of the group were heavily involved in the production, with Dr Dre and Ice Cube attached to the project from the beginning as...

Stranger Things - Season 3

Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction

What is the series about and where is it shown?

Straw Dogs

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Sam Peckinpah's 1971 film, Straw Dogs, has been described by critics as a kind of 'Cornish Western', transferring Peckinpah's usual concerns about violence and masculinity from the Wild West to the West Country of England. Dustin Hoffman plays an American professor, David Sumner, who moves away...


Genre: Drama

Danny Boyle's Sunshine is set fifty years in the future, as a team of specialised engineers set off on a mission to drive a giant nuclear bomb into the sun in an attempt to reignite the dying star. The film explores the tensions amongst the crew members, as various problems arise and they are...

Sunshine on Leith

Genre: Musical

A musical in which two friends return to Edinburgh after serving as soldiers in Afghanistan and find that life as civilians has its own difficulties.

Sweet Movie

Genre: Drama

Sweet Movie is a 1974 political satire by Dusan Makavejev, director of the notorious WR - Mysteries of the Organism.  The film cuts between two separate stories, each focussing on a female character.  One story concerns a Canadian beauty queen who escapes from her rich but perverted husband to...

Sweet Sixteen

Genre: Drama

The film Sweet Sixteen deals with the life of teenager Liam (Martin Compston), growing up in the tough estates of Greenock, Scotland. This gritty, realistic portrayal of contemporary working class life by the acclaimed British director Ken Loach gained much critical acclaim; nominated for the...

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller

'Sire, this is not a homage to brutality, that the artist has invented, but a hymn from the mouth of reality' (Prologue)