Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Edward Scissorhands (1990) was submitted for classification in December 1990. 

Starring Johnny Depp (Edward) and Winona Ryder (Kim), Film Examiners described the film as an “allegorical fairytale”, with Johnny Depp’s character of Edward, appearing like “a cross between Frankenstein, Kaspar Hauser and the late Jim Morrison of the Doors”.

The film was submitted with a 12 classification request, in line with the PG-13 rating already awarded in the US. However Examiners viewing the film considered the tale of Good vs Evil, and the fairytale quality of the work, as similar to traditional Disney works like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and described the overall experience as PG level, rather than 12. They also suggested parallels with recent PG films including The Witches and Willow, both of which were seen widely by 9 - 11 year olds. Examiners did however pause over the violence in the final scene of the film when Edward and Kim are attacked by Jim, and in defence of Kim, Edward strikes Jim, causing him to fall out of a window to his death. Examiners suggested cuts to reduce the intensity of blows in this scene to keep the film within the parameters of PG. 

A screening of the film for a group of 95 children aged 6 to 12 and teenagers aged 13 - 17, took place on 3 February 1991 to gather feedback on the classification from this audience. The research survey divided their feedback into the age groups of 6-9; 10-13; and 14-17. Most of the children completing the survey after the film agreed the film was exciting and funny, though just over half of all the children in every age group agreed the film was also scary. The summary of the feedback, available here, shows the enthusiasm for the film shown by most of the audience, although a few children did not like the grandmother character and a couple of the younger audience members thought it was a little too scary for them. In 1991 the BBFC was still eight years away from using large scale public consultation exercises to gather feedback on its classification decisions, however the results of this screening are not dissimilar to present day advice about films rated PG, which under current Guidelines, are generally suitable for children aged eight or older.

The distributor of the film, 20th Century Fox, made these cuts and the film was classified PG in April 1991.

The distributor submitted the same cut version of Edward Scissorhands on video in December 1991 and it also passed at PG. We should note that at this time, on video, there was a simple choice between repeating the film cuts for PG or passing it 15 uncut, as the 12 was not available on video until 1994. The cut version passed at PG again in 1995, but in 2007 Edward Scissorhands was submitted on video in its uncut form and classified 12 for moderate violence.