Star Wars and Lord of the Rings have their age ratings updated as they are 'scarier' today

Virgin Radio

21 Dec 2021, 11:37

Credit: Getty

Credit: Getty

Classic films you loved as a child might not be suitable for kids of the same age today. 

That’s according to the British Board Of Film Classification - the group who certifies films for release. A report by the i Newspaper found the BBFC quietly upgraded a number of age ratings for iconic movies such as Ghostbusters and even The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation as they had to be reclassified for a re-release.

As the ideas of horror, sex and violence have changed over the years, so do the age ratings, as they have to ‘keep in step with the direction in which society is moving’, according to the film body. 

Movies such as The Empire Strikes Back, Jaws and Raiders Of The Lost Ark have all been reclassified over the last decade, so had to be judged on the changing standards of potential harm and offense. 

For example, everyone remembers Luke Skywalker’s wrist getting the chop by Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, and when the film was released, it was a U certificate. 

But the BBFC ruled that the lightsaber duel and the depiction ‘of a man being decapitated’ in a dream sequence was enough to update the certificate to a PG. 

BBFC Compliance Manager Chris Davies told the paper: “This provides a fascinating insight into how people’s tastes and standards change and develop over the years – and will continue to do so in the future. 

“Scenes of violence or horror that we once classified 18 may be rated 15 today, while certain terms that could previously have been found in a film rated U or PG may require a PG or 12A under our current language policy.”

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring was previously a PG, but had to be reclassified to a 12A because of its depiction of violence and tourture. 

Meanwhile Ghostbusters’ PG rating was also bumped up to a 12A due to the sexual refrences and implications involving one of ghosts. 

It also works the other way around, with some films being downgraded. The Fast and the Furious - the first film of the franchise - was a 15 when it was first released back in 2001, but it’s now a 12A for its infrequent strong language, moderate violence and sex references. 

And if you think festive favourite The National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation was family-friendly, you might want to think again. The once-rated PG back in 1990 is now a 12A by today’s standards, as it contains infrequent strong language and moderate sex references.