Steven Spielberg’s film was submitted to the BBFC for classification in April 1984. The reports published here detail the concerns Examiners had about a number of moments in the film. The sequence in the ‘Temple of Doom’ of a sacrificial victim having his heart ripped out, plus various attacks upon the lead characters, were violent or horrific enough to exceed the limits of the PG certificate United International Pictures (UIP) wanted. In a letter to UIP (also published here) James Ferman, BBFC Director at the time, described the temple scenes as showing a “very real world of terror, ritual violence, black magic and nightmare imagery”.
UIP worked closely with the BBFC to implement the changes noted in the cuts list to achieve a PG, with James Ferman even travelling to Los Angeles to work with the producers of the film as part of the process. With the amendments made the BBFC classified the film PG in June 1984. This UK theatrical version was classified on video in 1986, again at PG. It remained in that version and at that category until this week, as the uncut Temple of Doom is now classified 12 for a DVD/Blu-ray.
You’ll be able to find more information about the classification of Temple of Doom and numerous other films in the book Behind the Scenes at the BBFC: From The Silver Screen To The Digital Age, published by BFI Publishing/Palgrave Macmillan.