Italy film ratings change now permanent


ROME -- The one-time changes to Italy's film rating system sparked by Mel Gibson's violent film "Apocalypto" are now permanent, after a Rome Administrative Court on Thursday endorsed the standards for use in rating similarly extreme films in the future.

"Apocalypto" was originally released in Italy with no age restrictions. But reaction from consumer groups and religious organizations prompted a reevaluation of the film, and a circuit court ruled earlier this month that viewers under the age of 14 could not view the film unless accompanied by an adult.

Now a higher court made the standards the circuit court permanent, meaning similarly violent films released in Italy in the future would be rated based on the same standards used to rate "Apocalypto." The change goes into effect immediately.

Italian censors have traditionally been lenient toward violence or harsh language, and less tolerant of explicit sexuality or anti-religious themes -- intolerances tied to the close relationship between the Italian state and The Vatican.

The decision of the Rome Administrative Court does not mean that a reform of the rating system announced by the Ministry of Culture on Jan. 8 will be halted. That reform will go forward as planned, but, in the meantime, the adjustment to the current rating system will be in place.