PG rating for Nell correct, says panel

The Straits Times | May 20, 1995
By: Sharon Vasoo

Films Appeal Committee finds nude scenes were necessary and not titillating

THE Films Appeal Committee yesterday said the Board of Film Censors was right in giving the Hollywood movie, Nell, a PG (Parental Guidance) rating.

The nine-member committee - whose members are from educational institutions, the media and private companies - chaired by Mr Hsuan Owyang, chairman of the Housing Board, reached this decision after reviewing the film, now showing at Shaw cinemas.

In the Budget debate in March this year, Mr Peh Chin Hua, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, called for stricter censorship and cited Nell, playing since February, which has three nude scenes.

He said: "It is not PG at all. It is downright R(A)! PG films are supposed to be suitable for young and old alike ... I am worried that the over-relaxation of censorship will gradually cause the decay of our society."

Brig-Gen (NS) George Yeo, the Minister for Information and the Arts, replied in ment that there was no blanket ban on female nudity even in PG movies, rather, it depended on the context of the story and whether it was exploitative. He then referred the matter to the Films Appeal Committee for review.

Yesterday, the committee said the three nude scenes in Nell were "fleeting, innocuous and necessary in the context of the storyline".

The movie tells the story of a young woman, Nell, who is raised in a forest, cut off from modern society. She develops an impenetrable language from a reclusive mother who cannot talk properly because of strokes. Two of the nude scenes showed Nell, played by Jodie Foster, swimming in a lake at night because of her fear of daylight and of people, said the committee.

The third showed Nell exposing her breasts playfully to a young man in a bar. The committee said: "These scenes reveal that Nell, a child of the wild, is naive about nudity. Furthermore, the scenes are not meant to titillate."

It concluded: "The Committee is of the unanimous opinion that the Board of Film Censors was not wrong in giving the film a PG rating.

"It has adhered to the norm in selectively allowing nude scenes where these are essential to the theme and the plot of a film and where the context is appropriate."

The committee, whose members include Ms Pang Cheng Lian, personal assistant to the chairman of the United Overseas Bank Group, and Dr Isa Hassan, director of continuing education and school-based programmes of Mendaki, added that nudity per se is not disallowed in PG movies.

The committee, whose decision is final, meets when film or video distributors appeal against cuts or classifications made by the Board of Film Censors.