Critics and Censorship

Alvin Purple one of Burstall's most successful and famous films, was the first Australian film to receive an R rating under the new censorship laws in the 1970's.
Previously Alvin would have been banned for screening as public exhibition. The new laws proceeded the laws Australia still has today:

"Following the Minister for Customs, Don Chipp, announcing the government intended to introduce legislation for an R classification for films, the new classifications: G, NRC, M and R, came into effect and R-rated films opened in cinemas around Australia"

 Part of the regulations also included that an R rated film should not:

 (b) ...unduly emphasize matters of sex, horror, violence or crime, or are likely to encourage depravity... 

According to the censors, Alvin Purple did not include these factors, this could be because Alvin Purple was a "send up" of the sexual desires of the characters in the film; Tim Burstall being the director of the film, is quoted as agreeing with the idea of the "send up";

"One of the best ways of getting an Australian audience to accept itself, one of the things we're fondest of, is the send up. We're prepared to look at our life and laugh at it in a way that we're not prepared to look at our life and be serious about it. " -The Age, 5/12/1972

The rise of this change of film classification was due to the Literary Censorship Board was ordered to cut back censorship to only not allowing a ratings that were 'explicitly pornographic' -Overland Literary Journal. Alvin Purple was obviously not pornographic; however this poses the idea that had Burstall chosen to not create Alvin as a 'ocker comedy' or a 'send up' would it have been treated as pornographic? Alvin was very much pushing the boundaries of censorship, for a film that was the first to be treated with a R 18+ rating.

The fact that Alvin Purple was the first of R 18+ films in Australia is extremely pivotal point in Australian cinema history, and proves Tim Burstall's importance during this time. Had people like Burstall not created films that pushed the boundaries of censorship, would we have had the progress in Australian cinema that we look back on today?

No comments:

Post a Comment