Is there any reason to believe that British cinema became more 'permissive' in the period from Darling to The Long Good Friday?

Essay by sconwayUniversity, Master'sB-, March 2004

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Whilst this essay focuses on the period dating from 1965 to 1979 I think that it is an inevitably more permissive path that British cinema has followed throughout history. Film has progressively become a far more accessible, and daring, medium as technological advances have allowed increased distribution channels for film and with a greater use of more fantastic special effects this has released the imaginations of scriptwriters, producers and directors. Along with these inevitable technical improvements that have made filmmaking a more daring means of cultural representation, the influence of John Trevelyan, secretary of the British Board of Film Censors from 1958 to 1970, should not be dismissed when considering the apparent relaxation of values within the film industry. His ability to work with directors, as opposed to against them, is legendary, allowing scenes to be passed for certification that would previously have been found on the cutting room floor before the films release.

Throughout this essay, I intend to highlight the increased use of graphic violence and immorality seen in films during the specified period above, focussing on how censorship codes and values have adapted, and how these relaxed attitudes were critically and socially received.

Firstly, I think that it is important to look at society and the political and cultural reaction to prominent events in Britain as an indicator of social attitudes. In this period, the Moors Murderers, possibly Britain's most hated killers, were finally charged with the brutal murders of several children; the notoriously violent Kray twins were given life sentences for murder; the Gay Liberation Front hold their first demonstration in London, raising the public awareness of gay issues, and armed troops moved into Ireland for the first time and are seen on television news items, more or less daily, thereafter. Similarly news items were also...