Believe it or not, there is still a film censorship - oops, "classification" - board in Great Britain. But to judge by its recent decision on Eastern Promises, another foul blood feast from David Cronenberg, the British Board of Film Classification might as well hang it up.
The film sounds like standard Cronenberg: eyes gouged out, throats slashed, all in such loving detail that the film managed to offend even the jaded audience at the London Film Festival. Yet the BBFC awarded the film an 18 certificate for general release, with no cuts - oops, edits.
This prompted Andreas Whittam, a former president of the BBFC, to complain: "If I thought this was the type of film that was likely to make people leave the cinema, or even make them have to look away for quite a while, then I would question why the scene should be left in."
Pretty mealy-mouthed, but a bold statement of principle, compared with the response from the current BBFC: "Scenes that make people turn away are part of the fun of going to movies. These days we are not here to cut; we are here to provide information and let people then make up their minds."
Uh-huh. Just one question, though: What, exactly, are we making up our minds about?