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Plankton

What's with Canadian Film Ratings?

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Could someone please tell me what possessed the Canadian Film Rating People (whatever the official name is) to give the same rating (14A -- somewhere between the MPAA's R and PG-13) to The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Saving Private Ryan, and Hawks' The Big Sleep?

And then The Hills Have Eyes 2 gets away with 18A (roughly the equivalent of the MPAA's R), while Fargo, Life of Brian, and The Silence of the Lambs are stamped with R (= NC-17).

I've tried researching the Canadian Rating System, but nowhere I've looked seems to explain this sort of thing.

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There is no "Canadian Film Rating System".

In the United States, films are rated by the industry. But in Canada, films are rated by the provinces, and each province has its own film classification board (though at least one province, Saskatchewan, simply uses the ratings assigned by another province, B.C.), and films sometimes get different ratings in different provinces. Thus, Saving Private Ryan was 18-A in B.C. and 14-A in Ontario (or vice versa), and occasionally a province will ban a film that is available in all the other provinces (as when Saskatchewan temporarily banned Exit to Eden, or when Ontario banned Fat Girl -- also, I think, temporarily).

When I was in high school, the B.C. ratings were called "General", "Mature", "14 Years", and "Restricted" -- and "Restricted" was tagged either "Limited Admission" (meaning people under 18 needed to be accompanied by guardians) or "No Admission" (meaning people under 18 couldn't get in at all). When I visited Ontario, I think the ratings I saw there were "Family", "Parental Guidance", "Adult Accompaniment" and "Restricted", or something like that. I'm not sure what the other provinces had.

However, the advent of home video required the provinces to harmonize a little more. So now, according to Wikipedia, ALL the provinces (except Quebec and possibly Newfoundland) use the ratings "G", "PG", "14-A", "18-A", and "R". The provinces are still free to give different ratings to the same film, but when the video comes out, the rating applied to the video is an "average" rating based on what the various provinces gave the film in question.

Most of the titles you mention were released before the provinces harmonized their video ratings system, so I imagine any discrepancies or anomalies are the result of merging systems that were never meant to be merged -- at least not when those films were originally rated.

And it occurs to me that Life of Brian was released in 1979, which is four years before the "14 Years" rating was invented in B.C. -- I remember they invented the rating just one year before I turned 14 myself! -- so it may be that some of the older films which would now merit a 14-A rating were stuck with "Restricted" ratings back in the day, and when those ratings were carried over into the new system, they were converted to the more extreme R rating simply because nobody bothered to distinguish between "Limited Admission" and "No Admission" films (which would be the equivalent of the modern 18-A and R ratings, respectively).

Just speculation on my part, but it sounds plausible to me. Does that make sense?

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Hmm, yeah, that does clear some stuff up. I was aware that the ratings differed from province to province, but I thought this tended to be rare (Saving Private Ryan was the notable exception that sprang to my mind, too). Thanks.

Edited by Plankton

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One of the films in competition in Montreal (Toi) opened this weekend in Quebec cinemas. Long fairly graphic sex scenes. Some nudity, but not overwhelming. If it comes here, it will no doubt be released unrated. It might manage an R if it tried, but I have my doubts. The rating in Quebec: 13+

Edited by Darrel Manson

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