'Dark Knight' Rating Headache In Foreign

    Aug 9, 2008 -- Overseas film audience classification agencies face a difficult task in placing The Dark Knight in a category that satisfies everyone, given its hard edge yet underlying fantasy nature.
    In the UK, the Warner Bros. release received a 12A, which allows younger children to attend if accompanied by a parent. Critics say the Batman film deserves a more restrictive 15 classification.
I    n a letter to the Times of London, Iain Duncan Smith, a former leader of the conservative Tory party, wrote: "I was astonished that the board could have seen fit to allow anyone under the age of 15 to watch the film. Unlike past Batman films, where the villains were somewhat surreal and comical figures, Heath Ledger's Joker is a brilliantly acted but very credible psychopathic killer who extols the use of knives to kill and disfigure his victims, during a reign of urban terrorism laced with torture."
    The UK film board responds Dark Knight is unreal – and thus viewed as fantasy by audiences -- given Batman’s acrobatics and The Joker’s seemingly unlimited capacity for physical punishment.
    But the Joker menaces with a knife, which is a realistic threat to many audiences. Knife attacks are a growing crime in the UK and elsewhere, as evidenced by the stabbing death of a U.S. tourist at the Beijing Olympics.
    The BBC website provides the following rundown of Dark Knight classification around the world (see under link).


Rating system maintained by The Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC).

Rating given : M - Mature, unrestricted but recommended for mature audiences 16 years and over.
Film advisory : Frequent action violence.
Next rating up : MA 15+ Not suitable for people under 15. Under 15s must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.


Rating system maintained by the Media Council for Children and Young People.
Rating given : 15 - approved for children aged 15 and over.
Classification : Young people and adults aged over 15 are expected to possess an understanding of genre and to be able to deal with frightening films.
Films containing a lot of violence or violence described in detail or glorified or legitimised are placed in this category along with other strong films such as pornography.
However children aged seven and over are allowed admission to all films if accompanied by an adult.
Next rating up : A 15 is the highest rating given.


Rating system maintained by the Finnish Board of Film Classification.
Rating given : K-13 - only for persons over 13 years of age.
Film advisory : Plenty of threat and violence which leads to death, however, the violence is not especially shown in detail.
Classification : Films rated K-13 may contain rather realistic violence mainly in a fantasy context; rather clear-cut sexual activity, however covert with regard to details; and depictions of horror where excitement and fear are built mainly on the story-line and the characters.
Next rating up : K-15 - only for persons over 13 years of age.


Rating system maintained by the Centre Nationale de la Cinematographie (CNC).
Rating given : Tous publics (U - universal) - suitable for all audiences.
Classification : There are no written guidelines as to what sort of content should receive which rating and ratings are given on a case by case basis.
The commissioners typically cite violent, sexual and drug related content (especially if it is deemed to be graphic or gratuitous) as reasons for higher ratings.
Next rating up : Interdit aux moins de 12 ans (-12) - Forbidden for under 12s.


Rating system maintained by the Film Censorship Authority (FCA).
Rating given : IIB - Not suitable for young persons and children.
Film advisory : Contains violence and shocking scenes.
Classification : Category IIB is advisory in nature but the age restriction for Category III films - aged 18 and over - is strictly and legally enforced.
In deciding between Category IIB and III, the degree of offensiveness of expressions or expletives with sexual connotations, or normally used in the context of certain criminal groups in Hong Kong, will be considered.

In considering passing films depicting nudity, the degree of the possible erotic effect of the depiction will be considered.

Next rating up : III - for audiences aged 18 and over.


Rating system maintained by the Ministry of Information.

Rating given : U - suitable for all audiences.
Classification : Films do not contain elements of violence, horror and sex that are excessive or that include religious, social or political aspects.
Next rating up : After the U rating, there are four different 18 ratings depending on the content of film including scenes of violence, sex, drug use, religious or political themes or a combination of them all.


Rating system maintained by the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audio-visual Media (NICAM).
Rating given : 16
Film advisory : Containing violence and fear.
Classification : The rating system simply warns of possible harmful images in films. In addition, pictograms are used that show the reason for the recommendation: violence, fear, sex, discrimination, drug and/or alcohol abuse and coarse language.

Next rating up : A 16 is the highest rating given.


Rating system maintained by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Rating given : PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned, some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Film advisory : Intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Classification : PG-13 rated films may contain very strong language, nudity (non-explicit), or mild drug content. There may be depictions of strong, mildly bloody violence, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence.
Next rating up : R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.