'Clenching' Buttocks in Costume Drama Offend UK Moviegoers


A movie about JMW Turner, the famous nineteenth-century British painter, featured butt shots so “vigorous” that the film inspired the most complaints from UK viewers in 2014.

The British Board of Film Classification, which rates films in the UK, releases an annual list of movies that generated the most noise from concerned citizens. This year, the BBC reports, the honor goes to Mr. Turner, a much-lauded historical drama about the painter JMW Turner, which inspired a minuscule 19 complaints about a certain scene involving butt-clenching. To put that into context, the current record is held by The Dark Knight, which garnered 300+ letters.

The Independent says:

Yet one scene in which Turner forcibly has sex with his housekeeper was deemed to have overstepped the mark. According to the BBFC report, “Turner’s clothed buttocks are seen clenching vigorously, before the scene cuts to a close-up of his face and his thrusting head and shoulders”.
There is no nudity and Turner appears distressed; the scene ends with him sobbing “almost in an exhibition of self-loathing,” the report said, adding it was important to the story. “Context is central to the question of acceptability of film and video context.”

Frankly, what Timothy Spall’s butt was doing does not seem like the most upsetting aspect of this particular scene. And in fact, the scene was controversial with critics as well—partly because the filmmakers made it up. From the Atlantic’s review:

This improvisational approach to history has unsettled some, especially with regards to the scene when Turner forcibly has sex with his servant Hannah Danby from behind, against a bookshelf. The implications are clear: She is sneaking a book from the shelf after a self-educated woman visits the house, seemingly inspired to do the same, and Turner catches her in the act, then asserts his authority over her physically, and humiliatingly. The scene was invented reportedly because Turner was her master for 30 to 40 years and, as Leigh toldCrave Online, it “felt very right.”

Hope the BBFC enjoyed their relatively quiet year before receiving a deluge of Fifty Shades-related carping!

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