'Watchmen' film cert reduced to 16


A film’s appeal:IRISH CINEMAGOERS aged 16 and over may see the violent new US action film Watchmen following a decision by the Film Appeals Board. John Kelleher, director of the Irish Film Classification Office (Ifco), had given the film an 18 certificate – in tandem with a similar classification in the UK.

However, a more lenient rating has since been granted following an appeal by the film’s distributor, Paramount Pictures. The film goes on release in Ireland, Britain and the US on March 6th.

Mr Kelleher’s office advises viewers on its website – www.ifco.ie – that Watchmen“contains strong, visceral hyper-realistic violence, including one brutal sexual assault”.

In Britain and Northern Ireland, the film has been restricted to audiences aged 18 and over by the British Board of Film Classification.

Citing the film’s “strong bloody violence”, the board’s report states that Watchmen contains “a number of scenes that focus on strong detailed violence and its gory result”. It adds: “In one such example, a man is stabbed through the arm, with it forcefully twisted and broken, as the knife is shown penetrating his arm and emerging from the other side.

“In another, a man is shown being struck in the head with a meat cleaver followed by repeated bloody sight of the cleaver striking the head. Both of these scenes, in addition to one or two others, were considered inappropriate at 15 and better placed at the adult 18, where detail of strong violence is permitted.”

The British board’s report concludes: “ Watchmenalso contains an attempted rape scene, strong language and sexual activity without strong detail.”

Watchmenis based on a popular graphic novel by Alan Moore. It is set in 1985 in an alternate America where the Vietnam War was won, Richard Nixon was elected for a third term as US president, and costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of society.

Directed by Zack Snyder, who made the historical epic 300, the film features Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earle Haley and Billy Crudup.

Under the Censorship of Films Act, a film distributor may submit a production to the appeals board after the film classification office has decided on a rating for the film. Mr Kelleher viewed Watchmenon February 13th and gave it an 18 certificate.

A quorum of the board’s members viewed the film on Monday night after Paramount’s appeal and agreed to give it a 16 certificate. “We are delighted that Watchmenhas been classified as 16,” said Niamh McCaul, general manager of Paramount’s Irish office. “It increases our potential audience and more importantly will give access to fans that are 16 and over.”

Mr Kelleher declined to comment on the rerating yesterday.

The last time the appeals board sat was May 19th last year, when Disney appealed against the 12A rating given to The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. The board reduced that rating to PG.