`Gratuitously violent' film banned


A NEW film involving the Pulp Fiction director, Quentin Tarantino, has been banned by the film censor, Mr Sheamus Smith, because of what he termed "totally gratuitous violence".

The screenplay for From Dusk Till Dawn was written by Tarantino, who also wrote Natural Born Killers, which was rejected by Mr Smith and by the Censorship of Films Appeals Board a year ago.

From Dusk Till Dawn features Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney, the star of the ER television series, as brothers heading for a safe haven in Mexico after a bloody crime spree. It also features Harvey Keitel as a preacher who has lost his faith and is taken hostage by the brothers. The director is Robert Rodriguez, who made El Mariachi and Desperado.

Mr Smith, who generally does not explain publicly his reasons for rejecting films, told The Irish Times yesterday he found the violence in From Dusk Till Dawn "irresponsible and totally gratuitous" and said the film worried him in the light of the recent massacres in Dunblane and Port Arthur.

"Somebody has to say `stop' to this extraordinary violence on the screen. I admire Harvey Keitel and Quentin Tarantino, and I'm not saying everyone in Ireland would be affected by this film. But even if one person were affected I wouldn't like to have it on my conscience."

From Dusk Till Dawn is the first film to be rejected by Mr Smith since Paul Verhoeven's Showgirls five months ago. That film was turned down chiefly because of a very violent rape scene.

Buena Vista International (Ireland), which distributes From Dusk Till Dawn here, may submit the film to the Appeals Board, or resubmit it in a cut version to the censor. "At this point we are considering our options," Mr Brendan McCaul, vice president and general manager of the distribution company, said yesterday.

From Dusk Till Dawn already has had one screening in Ireland, as a late night show during the Dublin Film Festival in March. The film, which was due to go on release here on May 31st, has yet to receive a certificate from the British censor.