Home > Words > Letters > Letter about Full Metal Jacket Italian cinema rating
Letter about Full Metal Jacket Italian cinema rating
Filed at the Ufficio di Revisione Cinematografica, Rome, Italy

The rating of Full Metal Jacket in Italy was a tricky business, mired in hypocrisy and bureaucracy in the typical Italian fashion.

The film was presented by Warner Bros. to the rating commission on September 29, 1987, and was classified VM18 (forbidden to people under the age of 18), the highest rate in Italy, "because of the great amount of explicit lines and gestures which might upset younger audiences." Warner Bros. appealed the decision, though the original VM18 rating was confirmed on October 21, "especially because of the paticularly violent scenes which might highly upset the sensitivity of the aforementioned younger audiences."

The media was aroused because, shortly before, Oliver Stone's Platoon had been given a VM14 rating, the commission gave contradictory explanations for their VM18 (obscene language first, then violence), and generally it was considered inconceivable to censor a maestro like Kubrick. Four deputees even opened a formal debate in Parliament, hinting at political reasons behind the VM18 rating: almost at the same time, the commission classified Gunny by Clint Eastwood as a VM14 film; the fact that this film had a patrioctic flavour compared with Kubrick's dry criticism towards the Army, set the usual Italian right/left controversies on fire.

Warner Bros. appealed again, this time on a legal technicality (contesting the number of raters who saw the film) and, together with lawyers' papers and reviews by highly regarded Italian film critics such as Callisto Cosulich, provided a letter by Stanley Kubrick himself, written to Rocco Moccia, former Direttore dello Spettacolo. This letter is a masterpiece in subtle kubrickian irony and at the same time a splendid lesson about the role of cinema in society and a pure declaration about what Kubrick thought a film is or should be.

Only after the case was brought to the Civil Jury of Lazio and up to the Consiglio di Stato, Full Metal Jacket's ups and downs in Italy had an ending: on September 30, 1988, a year after the first screening, the film was classified VM14. Meanwhile, Full Metal Jacket had been screened regularly in theatres without a rating.

Letter to Rocco Moccia, Direttore Generale dello Spettacolo
by Stanley Kubrick

Dott. Rocco Moccia
Direttore Generale Dello Spettacolo
Ministero Del Turismo e Dello Spettacolo
Via della Ferratella in Laterano, 51
00184 Roma

5th October, 1987

Dear Dott. Moccia,

You will undoubtedly understand my disappointment that my film Full Metal Jacket has been classified so as to prevent it being viewed by young people under the age of 18. Obviously I do not regard young Italians as being substantially different in nature, character or temperament to young people in other parts of the world and it was my earnest desire that my film be an experience capable of being shared by the widest audience possibile.

This is important to me because I sincerely hope that Full Metal Jacket will be regarded as making an important and relevant contribution to the ways in which people view their own nature.

My intention was not to relish violence for its own sake but to emphasise the reality of both the training process undergone by the recruits and the war situation in which they found themselves. A crucial aspect of this process is the use of language to dehumanise the young men. This had to be presented in a totally truthful way otherwise I would have compromised the reality of the story.

I make no apology for taking such an approach. It is what attracted me to the project from the beginning: its sense of uncompromising truth. Full Metal Jacket offers no easy moral or political answers.

I think you should know that Sweden has classified the film 15, New Zealand has a 13 age restriction, Finland has given it a 16 age restriction, as has Germany. These ratings were applied without any cuts.

I believe that all the people should be given the opportunity to see things the way they are.

Yours sincerely,
Stanley Kubrick

Exclusively for ArchivioKubrick

Stanley Kubrick

Letter available at the Ufficio di Revisione Cinematografica, Rome, Italy.
Reproduction, modification, copy and republication of text and images are prohibited without authorization.

Home > Words > Letters > Letter about Full Metal Jacket Italian cinema rating