8 December 2004
Irreversible decision means there are no limits any more
The television viewers organisation VoTE says a decision by the Film and Literature Review Board means there are
virtually no longer any limits to what can be shown in New Zealand theatres.
And it won’t be long before the same films start appearing on TV.
The Review Board has turned down an appeal by VoTE to ban the film Irreversible, although it does consider the film
objectionable and has given it an R18 rating and restricted it to showings in theatres or to students.
The film has been highly controversial overseas because of a protracted rape scene lasting at least nine minutes, in
which a woman is viciously beaten as she tries to escape. Also a man is graphically portrayed having his head smashed to
a pulp by a fire extinguisher, while some onlookers masturbate during the violent behaviour.
VoTE secretary Glenyss Barker says there is a clear association of sexual pleasure with the violence, and reviewers
overseas have almost unanimously commented that the dominant effect of the film is to sicken, seriously disturb, offend,
and psychologically traumatise the majority of the audience. One reviewer called it “downright disgusting”; another said
it was the most sickening act of violence he had ever seen in a film, and the rape scene was unbearable.
Mrs Barker says, in the light of these comments, it is unbelievable that the Review Board in its decision calls
Irreversible “a film of high merit”, and does not consider it will promote harm or violence.
“How bad does something have to become before our censors will draw the line?” she asks. “This effectively means there
are no longer any limits in New Zealand.”
VoTE is particularly concerned that the decision will provide a wedge for more graphic sex and violence on television,
and had particularly appealed to the Board for that reason.
“Research by the Broadcasting Standards Association has shown that more and more children in New Zealand are having
television sets in their bedrooms where it is difficult for parents to monitor what their children are viewing, and it
is more likely the children will watch late at night when the parents are asleep. This, coupled with many homes having
video machines, which many even very young children know how to work, means that the likelihood of youngsters seeing
such a movie – even if it is late at night – are quite high,” says Mrs Barker.