Ratings and certificates

Many of the films on the site have information about their BBFC certificate or MPAA rating. These handy tables explain what the ratings mean.

British Board of Film Classification [BBFC]

The following information is taken from the BBFC website, where you can look up the classification of every film they've ever rated. This is a particularly useful feature if you want to know whather anything's ever been released on video or DVD or not.

The BBFC is a private company and, for cinema, they are a purely advisory body. Final decisons on film certificates in theory lie with local councils in the UK as they control all entertainment licences, but it is rare for a local authority to over-rule a BBFC decision. Since the Video Recordings Act (1984), the BBFC have been appointed by the UK government as the body responsible for rating videos and now DVDs.


Rating Description
U Universal. Suitable for all. (Not necessarily aimed at children, but suitable for them.)
A A film more suitable for adults, "without the least implication that it might not be shown to children, for the BBFC policy was that no film which was not 'clean and wholesome and above suspicion' should be given the sanction of any certification at all."
X Admission to those aged 16 or over.


Rating Description
U Universal. Suitable for all.
A Children of five years or older, whether accompanied or not, but warns parents that a film in this category may contain some material that some parents might prefer their children under 14 years of age not to see.
AA Allows the admission of children of 14 years or over, whether accompanied or not.
X In 1970, the minimum age for admission to an X-certificate was raised to 18 years.

1982 - present

Rating Description
U Universal.
PG Unaccompanied children of any age may watch. A PG film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older. However, parents are advised to consider whether the content may upset younger or more sensitive children.
12 No-one younger than 12 may rent or buy a 12 rated video.
12A Special cinema-only rating introduced in 2002, which replaces the 12 certificate in cinemas. Children younger than 12 can see a 12A film in a cinema if they are accompanied by an adult. First applied to Spider-Man.
15 No-one younger than 15 may see a 15 film in a cinema. No-one younger than 15 may rent or buy a 15 rated video.
18 No-one younger than 18 may see an 18 film in a cinema. No-one younger than 18 may rent or buy an 18 rated video.

Motion Picture Association of America [MPAA]

Unlike the BBFC, the MPAA is not an indepedent private company, but is the trade association of the motion picture industry and exists to serve the interests of the major motion picture studios. The ratings system is a collaboration between the studios, film distributors and cinema owners as a way of providing an advisory structure for parents. Because it is voluntary, individual cinema owners can ignore the rating system without penalty and a film's producers are under no compulsion to put their movie forward for rating in the first instance.

1968 - 1984

Rating Description
G General Audiences, all ages admitted.
PG Parental guidance suggested, but all ages admitted. [This rating was originally M for mature, but it was felt that the word "mature" itself had certain unsavoury connotations.]
R Restricted, children under 16 would not be admitted without an accompanying parent or adult guardian
X No one under 17 admitted

1984 - present

Rating Description
G General.
PG Parental guidance suggested, but all ages admitted.
PG-13 Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
R Restricted, children under 16 would not be admitted without an accompanying parent or adult guardian
NC-17 In 1991, the rating X was changed to NC-17. No one under 17 admitted. Coming Soon! Coming Soon!

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