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The Weinstein Company has hired lawyers to challenge the MPAA’s NC-17 rating of Blue Valentine and R rating of The King’s Speech.
“While we respect the MPAA, I think we can all agree that we are living with an outdated ratings system that gives torture porn, horror and ultraviolent films the same rating as films with so-called inappropriate language,” Harvey Weinstein says in a statement.
TWC’s legal team includes David Boies, the legal advisor on both films, Bert Fields, who will head up The King’s Speech appeal, and Alan R. Friedman, the lead attorney on Blue Valentine. The Hollywood Reporter wrote in October that they would fight the ratings.
The King’s Speech was rated R due to strong language– usually used in instances as star Colin Firth tries to overcome his stutter.
“I hope that language can be judged by its context just as violence is currently judged in context. The f-word in The King’s Speech is not being used in its sexual sense, or in its aggressive sense, but as a release mechanism to help a man overcome a stammer in the context of speech therapy, in a scene that is also very funny,” says director Tom Hooper. “This was a technique that David Seidler, the writer, encountered as a boy in the 1940s – discovering he didn’t stammer on curse words was hugely helpful to him overcoming his speech problems. Fortunately in the UK we have been granted a 12A, and the on screen certificate will explain that there is some bad language “used in the context of speech therapy. I hope that in the light of this context the R rating for the movie can be reconsidered.”
Adds Fields, “This rating for The King’s Speech is arbitrary and irrational. In my view, it violates The Weinstein Company’s right to freedom of speech under the state and U.S. constitution. It should strike fear in the heart of every director and producer.”
Blue Valentine received the NC-17 rating due to a sex scene between stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who are attempting to save their troubled marriage.
“You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is OK supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex,” says Gosling. “It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”
Adds Williams, “The MPAA’s decision on Blue Valentine unmasks a taboo in our culture, that an honest portrayal of a relationship is more threatening than a sensationalized one,” says Williams. “Mainstream films often depict sex and violence in a manner that is disturbing and very far from reality. Yet, the MPAA regularly awards these films with a more audience friendly rating, enabling our culture’s desensitization to violence, rape, torture and brutality. Our film does not depict any of these attributes. It’s simply a candid look at the difficulties couples face in sustaining their relationships over time. Blue Valentine opens a door for couples to have a dialogue about the everyday realities of many relationships. This film was made in the spirit of love, honesty and intimacy. I hope that the MPAA will hear our pleas and reconsider their decision.”
Friedman calls the film’s rating a “travesty.”
“That rating is out of sync with R ratings awarded to films for sexual conduct, where the scenes in question are far less sensitively handled,” he goes on. “The scene, consistent with the entire film, like all of Blue Valentine, was shot with great care and tact. In fact, the NC-17 suggests a coarseness of content that is nowhere to be seen. I look forward to providing the appeal board with the chance to correct this mistake by lowering the rating to an R.”
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Santa Barbara International Film Festival