Monday, May 07, 2007

Canada News

It is Monday and I can't think of anything to write. So here is something from the Canada News section in last week's Craccum. As News Editor of Craccum I think it important that Auckland University students are kept informed about events in Canada; now it's your turn.

According to The Globe and Mail, Stanley Fox, a film professor at York University has been fossicking through papers relating to film censorship and found a strong political bias in censorship decisions.

In 1913, the B.C. Legislature created the office of Censor of Moving Pictures. The censor's duty was to "prevent the depiction of scenes of an immoral or obscene nature, the representation of crime or pictures reproducing any brutalizing spectacle, or which indicate or suggest lewdness or indecency, or the infidelity or unfaithfulness of husband or wife, or any other such pictures which he may consider injurious to morals or against the public welfare or which may offer evil suggestions to the minds of children, or which may be likely to offend the public."

The Chief Censor did not concern himself just with smutty pictures. In the 1920s mention of the Irish rebellion against Britain was prohibited, as was "anything derogatory to the Crown." Newsreels featuring riots in India and protests in Palestine were banned. In 1929, references to the Prince of Wales and the King were cut from The Cocoanuts, the first feature-length Marx Brothers film. In 1930, references to "the King of England and the revolt of the Colonies" were eliminated from the comedy/romance Under a Texas Moon.

Feature films were also censored for other reasons. In 1930, the Academy Award-winning The Big House was banned for being "educational on jail breaks." The same year East is West was rejected because it might have encouraged Canadians to marry Asians: "The B.C. Board goes on record in objecting to Eurasian romances as the consensus of opinion is that these romances and marriages are not in the best interests of the Province."

The Chief Censor rejected the 1933 film The Woman I Stole because: "the whole theme of the story is the unfaithfulness of the wife ... culminating finally in the discarding of the woman for a little hussy picked up in a speak-easy ... unwholesome and degenerating exhibition of dishonoured females, entirely lacking in portrayal of chivalry upon the part of the chief actor."

In 1943 Ape Man was rejected: "... because this is a horror picture and extremely frightening, and as we have decided to reject all horror pictures for the duration of the war, this one is placed in that category." In the same year, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein was banned because "this is nothing more than a reproduction in most part of the horror pictures Frankenstein and Dracula and as horror pictures are being banned from showing, this is classified as such."

After the Second World War, censorship took a different course. In 1952, BC banned a film for PC reasons: Explaining his decision to ban a film called Outrages of the Orient, the Chief Censor said "This picture portrays the atrocities perpetrated by the invading Japanese armies upon the Philippine Islands in 1942 and in the light of present day events and a world trying to rise above feelings of hatred and revenge, I consider the showing of this picture to be against the public welfare"

Film censorship of this kind did not end until 1970, when a classification system was introduced.

Here are the Cowboy Junkies, from Toronto:


Pablo said...

Gee, I haven't seen that vid since what, 1988? I went right out & bought Trinity Session and ten, as a direct result, discovered the Velvets. Life-changing stuff, really when you're 17.

I must have turned a dozen people into fans with my copy of that LP.

Aah, memories.

Paul said...

You humble me: I only posted that video because Margot Timmins reminds me of I girl I once knew.

And it is a superb cover of a superb song.