Quadrophenia was submitted to the BBFC for classification in March 1979. The BBFC classified the film X (suitable for over 18s) for strong language, sex and violence.
Here we see a complaint from a teenager that was sent to the BBFC in August 1979. The letter complains that by giving the film an X certificate the BBFC were preventing the very audience that would wish to see it - 12-18 years olds - from doing so, and that the sex/language/violence would not be a shock to the modern teenager. The BBFC explained that 'the bad language is excessive even for an X category film, the mob violence tends to stimulate even an adult audience, and the sex scene in which a young couple are roused by the violence taking place in the adjacent street is not an idea that we wish to 'sell' to younger audiences.'
Quadrophenia was submitted again on video in 1986 and classified 18. Some consideration was given to a 15 rating for video, since the setting and events of the film dated it somewhat, with riots in Brixton and Toxteth being fresher memories for audiences in 1986 than the Mods/Rockers clashes of the 1960s. However, the extent of the drug-taking and combination of bad language, violence and sex (particularly the intercutting of the sex scene with the street violence) kept the film in the 18 category.
In 1996 a theatrical re-release was submitted and classified 15, since at the time the BBFC considered the context, realism and historical nature of the film could now accommodate the depiction of language, drug use and violence at that age category.
Read the exchange of letters in our file for the film availbe for download.