Com 428

Censorship and Propaganda in Film

May 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — rpfelts @ 9:24 pm

The Battleship Potemkin  is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein. The point of the film was to convince viewers that Russia was better off under the control of the Soviet Union than under the Tsars. Potekim portrays the sailors and Bolsheviks as heroic everymen, while the tsarists are pure, almost cartoonish evil.

It is known as the greatest propaganda film of all times. After being distributed it was censored in many different ways based on the place it was being shown. It was banned in Nazi Germany, Britain, France and many other countries because of its “revolutionary zeal.”

The film is unique as it brings considerable artistic merit to the table despite its primary function of influencing politics.

Eisenstein did an incredible job of capturing an audience and gaining sympathy for the sailors.


MPAA Flawed Rating System

Filed under: Uncategorized — rpfelts @ 8:44 pm

The NC-17 rated documentary This Film is Not Yet Rated examines the MPAA film rating board. Director Kirby Dick hires a private investigator to expose the identity of the anonymous rating board.

The film ratings from the MPAA were intended to be a way of heading off government censorship, but many now question if it was just a ruse.

The ratings board is supposedly comprised of  “parents” but Dick discovered that hardly any have children under 18, which is the age group to whom the ratings are supposed to apply.

I do not disagree with the MPAA’s decision to keep the member’s of the rating board anonymous, but if the reason is only to protect the fact that the people (demographically representative panel of parents of children) rating the films do not really fit into this category we believe they do, then I see a problem.

The ratings currently used by the MPAA include:

  • Rated G: General Audiences – all ages are admitted
  • Rated PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – some material may not be suitable for children
  • Rated PG-13:  Parents Strongly Cautioned- some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
  • Rated R: Restricted- Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
  • Rated NC-17: No-children under 17 admitted.

Dick also examines the censorship of NC-17 rated movies and what differentiates R-rated films from NC-17 films. He questions the boards ratings by showing side-by side sex scenes from films with different ratings, that are virtually identical apart from the genders of the participants.

This Film is Not Yet Rated seems to achieve goal of get people talking, hopefully in great numbers, about the MPAA and the absurdity of its ratings system, but aside from that doesn’t seem to have much purpose. Can the MPAA not just hire a new rating board? Was this effort anything more than just an inconvenience for the MPAA?

I have definitely been more educated about the MPAA, so Kirby Dick…you have accomplished something more than just making yourself feel better.


Response to The Public Enemy

Filed under: Uncategorized — rpfelts @ 8:12 pm

The Public Enemy (1931) begins with an explicit statement of authorial intent: “It is the intention of the authors of The Public Enemy to honestly depict an environment that exists today in a certain strata [sic] of American life, rather than to glorify the hoodlum or the criminal”

The film was an insight to gang life at the time. Like Baby Face, it was a pre-code film that got away with much violence and sexual overtones.

The Public Enemy was a story of two  young mischievous boys in pre-Prohibition city streets who fall into a  life of adult crime and his inevitable gruesome death. The film does an excellent job of examining social forces and roots of crime.

The film unfortunately appeared to glamorize criminal activities such as bootlegging and emphasized their high style of life with various “hookers.”


Response to Baby Face

Filed under: Uncategorized — rpfelts @ 7:51 pm

Baby Face was a pre-code film that was released in 1933. It was considered so “racy” that some scenes, dialog, and image had to be censored. The uncensored version was later discovered.

Lily was the heroine of the film works for her father and he has her sleep with many of his customers. Lily’s father dies and she does not seem to be emotional about it. Lily then uses her sexuality to gain power, climb the social ladder, and “sleep her way to the top.” By the end of the film she realizes that her way of life is not bringing her the happiness that she wants and attempts to repent in hopes of a happier life.

Suprisingly, after all of her conniving attempts to make her way to the “top,” she appears to be happy after returning to where she started and repenting for her wrong doings.

Although I have not see many films from this pre-code time, I can see where the controversy arose about the sexual content. Although there were not graphic sex scenes at this time even the slightest idea of sexual activity was not morally acceptable at that time.

This film led to to the introduction of a unpermissive code.