Still from the film “Antichrist”
A movie that caused a British reviewer to lament he thought he had stuck his head down a toilet while watching and whose makers have avoided a negative rating in the U.S. by not submitting the feature for review may be targeted by a warning from the Motion Picture Association of America.
That word came from Ted Baehr, who runs the Christian media ministry MovieGuide, after he invited people concerned about the gruesome and graphic content of “Antichrist” to join a petition to the MPAA to rate the movie NC-17, which would prevent children seeing it and discourage theaters from showing it.
WND reported earlier when the petition for the NC-17 rating was launched for a film already dubbed “the most horrific movie ever seen” for explicit and pornographic sadomasochism, violence and occult content.
“It’s filled with a wicked worldview, vile pornographic scenes, onscreen mutilation of private parts and some other material which I simply cannot describe to you in a family publication,” Baehr said.
MovieGuide’s petition explained why an NC-17 rating, rather than an R rating, would limit the number of people – especially children – exposed to the movie.
But Baehr said the makers of “Antichrist” simply didn’t submit the movie for a review and rating, instead choosing to have it listed as “Not Rated.”
So he launched another campaign and obtained help from actor and singer Pat Boone, who spoke with Dan Glickman at the MPAA about the thousands of signatures sent to Movieguide for the petition.
“Glickman assured Boone that he will have the movie ‘Antichrist’ reviewed again, and if it contains the kind of content described, he will send out a warning to theaters, but that the MPAA could not rate a movie that was not submitted for a rating,” Baehr explained.
“This is a major victory for families, if Mr. Glickman sends a warning to theaters,” Baehr says. “However, by allowing producers to opt out of the rating system, the MPAA has made it possible that a movie like ‘Antichrist’ with pornographic scenes and genital mutilation can be viewed by anyone of any age. Therefore, Pat Boone is urging Mr. Glickman to fulfill the mandate of the MPAA to protect families by sending the warning about ‘Antichrist’ with a notice to theaters reminding them not to play unrated movies.”
Boone said, “It’s not much of a rating system if a movie can choose to just be unrated.”
Elizabeth Kaltman, a vice president for the MPAA, contested the characterization of the conversation between Boone and Glickman.
“He [Glickman] told him [Boone] we have nothing to do with that film, period,” she told WND.
“‘Antichrist’ should have received an NC-17 initially but that’s never good for business. The distributor, IFC Films–IFC Entertainment, knew that a movie with graphic genital mutilation would not receive [an R rating]. So they essentially passed on asking the MPAA to rate ‘Antichrist.’ But now, that’s being reconsidered by the MPAA, and we are grateful at least for that,” said Baehr.
Baehr continued that the petition was part of an ongoing campaign to get a standards-based system in place with the MPAA.
“Knowing there are good people like you standing with us, we will continue the fight,” Baehr said.
The movie stars Willem Defoe, who also played the role of Jesus in “The Last Temptation of Christ,” a film labeled blasphemous by many Christians.
According to MovieGuide’s review of the newer film, Defoe’s effort includes demonic activity, full nudity and graphic on-screen depictions of sex, sadomasochism, sexual mutilation with both a block of wood and a pair of scissors, child abuse and violent animal acts.
“‘Antichrist’ is the wicked story of a married couple’s plunge into occult darkness as they try to grieve the loss of their son,” the review states. “This movie wallows in evil and contains extremely graphic pornographic sexual scenes, much occult content and extreme sadomasochistic violence, making it a movie to avoid.”
At the Cannes Film Festival in France, where Charlotte Gainsbourg won best actress for her part in “Antichrist,” even some defenders of the movie’s writer and director, Lars von Trier, were shocked.
“I thought I had my head down a lavatory, frankly,” said Baz Bamigboye of Britain’s Daily Mail.
The Associated Press reports Bamigboye still maintains von Trier has a “right” to make outrageous films, but nonetheless demanded in a press conference that the director justify the content of “Antichrist.”
“I don’t think I have to justify it,” responded von Trier. “I work for myself, and I do this little film that I am now kind of fond of. I haven’t done it for you or an audience, so I don’t think I owe anybody an explanation.”
“If the world had standards, this movie would be Triple X and banned,” states the site’s review of the film. “As it is, we are issuing our strongest warning not to see it, and to complain to the MPAA for allowing a movie like this to come to theaters near you.”