- By a narrow margin, Michael Winterbottom’s sexually explicit romantic drama 9 Songs has been approved for release in Australia. Uncut.
After outraging British prudes, Michael Winterbottom’s sexually explicit drama 9 Songs to be screened uncut in Australia
In October 2004, Michael Winterbottom’s psychological drama 9 Songs, featuring explicit sex scenes – in one of which the lead female character (played by Margot Stilley) performs oral sex on her lover (Kieran O’Brien) – was given an “18 Certificate” from the usually strict British Board of Film Classification. No cuts were deemed necessary.
As expected, British prudes were less than thrilled with the censors’ decision. Responding to such complaints, a BBFC spokesperson asserted that the rating “was given within the BBFC’s guidelines. There is nothing illegal or harmful shown in the film. If people don’t want to watch it, they don’t have to go to the cinema to see it.”
Another censor-happy country where people will have the option of either going or not going to the cinema to see 9 Songs is Australia – where, earlier this century, Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi’s revenge thriller Rape Me / Baise-moi was summarily banned. This past January, Winterbottom’s film had its X18+-rating (applied to pornographic submissions) toned down to an R18+ (“adult” content restricted to those over the age of 18).
Potentially offended adults have the option to go watch something else
The revision came about following a 3-to-2 vote by the five-member panel of the Office of Film and Literature Classification’s Review Board, which is supposed to protect adult Australians from the evils of explicit film (and literature?) sex.
In its decision, the Classification Review Board noted that while “some” sequences “may offend some sections of the adult community, the actual sex scenes are justified by the context, narrative, tone and artistic merit.”
In the U.K., Optimum Releasing opened 9 Songs at 28 theaters on March 11. Accent Film Entertainment plans to release it in Australia later in 2005.
‘Completely gratuitous’ – and welcome – hardcore sex action
Regarding 9 Songs’ sex scenes, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw writes:
“I am relieved to report that the hardcore sex action is completely gratuitous – which, in real life, is the very best sort. It’s certainly less pretentious and more cheerful than movies like, say, Patrice Chéreau’s Intimacy, films which tend to surround the deed with worthy, maundering dialogue about love and sex, as if this additional material was being entered into exculpatory evidence for some putative Chatterley trial.”
9 Songs’ box office
Update: As found at boxofficemojo.com, Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs grossed $582,000 in the United Kingdom and $168,000 in Australia, in addition to a paltry $67,000 in the U.S. and Canada.
The movie’s worldwide total (apparently incomplete) was $1.6 million. After the U.K., its top market was Mexico ($287,000).
“Sexually Explicit 9 Songs Movie” endnotes
Margo Stilley and Kieran O’Brien 9 Songs movie image: Revolution Films | Optimum Releasing.
“Sexually Explicit 9 Songs Movie Gets Australian Censors’ Approval” last updated in December 2022.