Film ratings in Germany: landmark cases

Culture

German film ratings

The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft (FSK) is the body responsible for determining ratings for films. Based at the Deutsches Filmhaus in Wiesbaden (photo), hundreds of voluntary examiners review thousands of films a year and decide which can be released to all ages, age 6 and up, age 12 and up, age 16 and up, or restricted to adults.

Culture

'Intimitäten': first rating in postwar Berlin

In the wake of World War II, "Intimitäten" was the first movie to be rated by the FSK on July 18, 1949. Produced in 1944 by Paul Martin and released in 1947 after military occupation review, the FSK decided the Berlin love story was suitable for ages 16 and up – but should not be viewed on somber religious holidays. The FSK considers sexuality, language, violence, illegal content and drug usage.

Culture

'Die Sünderin'

Rating changes in films over time reflect changes in social values and norms. For instance, "Die Sünderin" (The Sinner) by Willi Forst was restricted to adults when first released in 1951. The film starring Hildegard Knef was scandalous for its depiction of female sexuality, promiscuity and toplessness. The federal family minister even called for censure. Today, it is released to ages 12 and up.

Culture

Spaghetti Westerns

Unlike sexuality, films with violence have earned more or less consistent age ratings over time. One example are Spaghetti Westerns, films made by Italian directors in the 1960s that depicted the American West in a grittier, more violent manner than before. Sergio Leone's monumental "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966) earned a 16 and older rating when last examined in 2004.

Culture

'Keinohrhasen'

This December 2007 romantic comedy by actor-director Til Schweiger is the only movie whose age rating has been changed while in theaters. Originally released to 6 and up, the film's bawdy and sexualized language led to a flurry of objection from politicians and parents. The FSK re-evaluated the film in an appeals committee and bumped up the age rating to 12 and up at the beginning of 2008.

Culture

'Jurassic Park'

When Spielberg's 1993 sci-fi classic first hit German cinemas, the FSK gave it a 12-and-up rating. For weeks, German media debated whether the film's deadly dinosaur violence warranted a more restrictive rating. The US age-rating body CARA had said kids under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. The UK age-rating body, however, concluded that the film was fine for unaccompanied kids of all ages.

Culture

'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'

After the FSK gave this 2002 blockbuster a 12-and-up rating for "considerably frightening and disorienting aspects," Warner Brothers cut parts of the German version so as to lower the age rating. Released for 6 and up, the FSK nonetheless noted that small children might still need adult accompaniment. This helped lead to age-category reform: 12-and-up films could be seen by 6 and up with a parent.

Culture

'Romeos'

This 2011 German coming-of-age film's protagonist is a transgender teenager navigating a maze of love, sex, fear and friendship. The FSK originally wanted a 16-and-up release, arguing the film could lead to "disorientation in sexual self-discovery." After protests of discrimination and homophobia from LGTB activists and the film's director, the FSK apologized, lowering the rating to 12 and up.

Culture

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

Scheduled for a December 14, 2017 release in Germany, the latest installment of the George Lukas' series received its FSK rating of 12 and up just three days prior. There is no set timescale for ratings before a cinema release: production companies must submit their films to the FSK, and foreign films requiring dubbing are sometimes submitted just days before their scheduled cinema release.

The FSK is the board in charge of giving age-ratings to films. Here's a look at some challenging examples and how the organization categorized them.