'The King's Speech': The new PG-13 version smudges a terrific film, but will anyone give a #@*%!?

kings-speech-tapegag

Image Credit: Laurie Sparham

In the past, you might have thought that winning an Academy Award for Best Picture would be enough to save a movie from being censored by its own distributor. And you would have been right. Today, however, the Weinstein Company is releasing, to 1,000 theaters, a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech (a movie that in its original incarnation was rated R). If you go to see the new version, as I just did, here’s what you’re in for.

When the Duke of York, fed up with the rage and repression that have fueled his lifelong stutter, and goaded by his speech therapist (“Do you know the F-word?”), decides to let out his feelings by dropping a chain of F-bombs that would make Melissa Leo blush, the audience no longer hears the dramatic, and funny, and liberating sound of Colin Firth spitting out those fulminating “f—s” (which was still a very naughty thing to say if you were British, and living in the ’30s, and part of the royal monarchy). Instead, the word is said softly, and used exactly once (all that’s allowed under PG-13). The rest of the time, despite what Colin Firth’s lips may be saying, we hear “S—t! S—t! S—t!” Which, as I’m sure the ratings board would be the first to agree, doesn’t quite have the same ring. Later, just before the newly crowned king delivers his big World War II speech, he’s nervous, regressing back to his old stammer, and so he reaches into his bag of tricks, standing at mock attention in his medallioned uniform, mixing “f—” and “s—” and “bugger” into a little symphony of blasphemy. It’s a knockout of a scene — one of the best in the movie. Only now it’s not nearly as good as it was.

Before I get all righteous about why it was ever deemed desirable for a very fine, and popular, and critically lauded, and award-winning movie to be aesthetically smudged, if not in fact a wee bit neutered, let’s place the PG-13 King’s Speech in context. Every day on television, you see movies, often great ones, that have been chopped, trimmed, “cleaned up,” and re-edited by networks and distributors, often with the full cooperation of the films’ directors, all to soften or remove adult language, explicit sex scenes, and violence. For a long time now, it has been standard, when you’re in the middle of making a movie, to create different versions of it by letting the actors loop the dialogue several times, so as to have one version that’s suitable for the small screen. Strikingly, even a television series as landmark as The Sopranos has gotten the bad language bleached out of it for syndication. (Considering how much spicy Mob flavor there is in the way Tony Soprano and his cronies talk, I confess that I’ve always thought the cleaned-up version of The Sopranos plays surprisingly well.) So for anyone who owns a television set, it’s not as if this situation has ever been remotely pure.

Yet I think the Weinstein Company’s decision sets a precedent — a bad one — in several ways. The King’s Speech, a stiff-upper-lip British period piece, may not be the kind of movie that people associate with R-rated language (that’s part of what gives its salty scenes such punch). But if you plug into the psychological flow of the story, Colin Firth’s Duke blurting the ultimate naughty word is integral to what the movie is — to its forceful irony and power. This man, raised as a role model of propriety, has to trash his noble sense of language, of good behavior, to face down his stutter in order to become the leader he can be. He must defeat respectability to be elevated to the pinnacle of it. In a sense, he has to defeat being English. (That’s why his speech therapist/shrink/common-man friend is a “lowly” Australian.) Part of the greatness of Firth’s performance is that at the moments he’s cussing a blue streak, he puts you in touch with the war inside Bertie: that gentleman’s desire to smash his own gentility. That he has to go so far, flinging as much verbal mud as he can (and getting some of it on himself), is part of the film’s meaning.

In this case, though, the irony that really possesses me is that it’s Harvey Weinstein, one of the most creative and groundbreaking executives in the history of Hollywood, who has put his stamp of approval on this decision. Yes, he’s famous for trimming and reediting movies right under the noses of directors. Yet to do that to a film that has already found its place in the culture is something new. Certainly, Tom Hooper, the director of The King’s Speech, has let it be known (in an understated way) that he’s not happy.

A Weinstein Company press release claims that the new version of The King’s Speech is meant for young people — so that, say, a child who stutters would have the opportunity to see it and to be inspired by it. A noble sentiment, to be sure. Yet couldn’t that same kid’s parents just take him to the R-rated version? Or watch the film with him at home in its original form? It’s hard to escape the suspicion that the PG-13 King’s Speech is simply the Weinstein Company yanking a few more times on the udders of its Oscar cash cow. The TV ads are selling the PG-13 version as if it’s some new-and-improved product. And the newspaper ad features the slightly icky line: “The film that won Best Picture of the year is now the family event of the year.” Do the best pictures of the year really need to be subjected to the American “family-ization” of entertainment?

This is the same Harvey Weinstein who refused — rightly — to trim a sex scene in Blue Valentine in order to satisfy the bluenoses of the ratings board. Sure, he exploited that situation to drum up publicity. But how could that same freedom-fighter Harvey now turn into the post-Oscar Harvey Scissorhands? All to repackage, and compromise, a movie that represents his greatest victory since the glory days of Miramax? There’s no question that it was a business decision, but here’s why it’s a business decision I can’t understand. The Weinstein Company, like Miramax before it, is a brand that means something. The quality, and integrity, of the movies it distributes is the cornerstone of what the company’s name signifies in Hollywood. Is the gain in short-term profit via a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech really worth monkeying with the film’s essence?

The worst precedent that’s being set, I’m afraid, has to do with the TV-ization of the motion-picture experience. Sure, an edited version of The King’s Speech would have shown up on network, and no one, including me, would have blinked an eye at it. Yet we don’t blink an eye at that same film being interrupted by commercials, either, because that’s what we expect on the small screen. That’s how our pop culture evolved. The movie theater is different. It’s supposed to be the setting for a sacred experience — maybe not when you’re watching Hall Pass or Sucker Punch, but when you’re watching a movie like The King’s Speech, yes. Tidying up a film that has meant something to us, so that the total number of people who pay to see it grows a little bigger, is a goal that benefits no one (except a few accountants), and just feeds the perception that art — like any other product — can be wedged into a box of any shape. Movies should live in the dark as they were dreamed. Otherwise, we all might as well curse the darkness.

So does anyone plan on seeing the PG-13 version of The King’s Speech this weekend? What do you think of the whole idea? Is it tarnishing something sacred? Or am I making a mountain out of a cinematic molehill?

Twitter: @OwenGleiberman

Comments (370 total) Add your comment
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  • steph

    I love that this is coming out on April Fools Day…could it (hopefully) be an elaborate joke?? lol prob not.

    • LindaT

      Unfortunately this is not a joke. I saw an interview with Colin Firth several weeks ago and this re-edit of the film was discussed. Mr. Firth was not on board with the changes. Too bad Weinstein ignored the wishes of the Oscar-winning director and lead actor of the film. Bad call, Harvey.

      • davey

        …and Oscar winning Actor (Firth).

      • Darby

        Owen, you are wrong! A (good) parent does not take children to rated R movies. There is a reason they are rated R people!! My 8 & 10 year old girls are movie lovers (like me) and really wanted to see this movie (they love Brit period pieces) but couldn’t. Now I can take them. Get over yourself, people. I think it is a great idea to allow kids to see great movies. You are the same people who complain about parents bringing kids to rated R films!! GEEZ, two-faced much?

      • Devin Faraci

        THE WEINSTEINS CAN GO %$#&*! THEMSELVES!

      • Carrie

        Actually, Darby, your kids COULD have seen the R-rated version if you had been with them. Only the NC-17 rating outright bans all minors from the theater. My definition of a “good parent” is one who does his/her research and makes decisions based on what he/she feels is appropriate for those specific children. If you want to mindlessly follow the MPAA’s completely arbitrary ratings as if they were laws, then your under-13 children should see this edited version, either.

      • Carrie

        *should NOT see

      • Woot

        Darby, you are an idiot. In this movie, the f-word was a means of expressing important emotions. It enriched a very well made scene…and this is coming from a person who didn’t enjoy the movie. Perhaps your daughters at the time are too young to see it… but very soon they won’t and can appreciate. It’s up to you, the parent, to decide if your children should see a movie. Filmmakers/distributors should not have to cater to that.

      • Darby

        @Carrie – I do research what my kids see. That’s why in some cases, I will allow them to see PG-13, after I’ve viewed it first. There are many great fun films my kids could enjoy if they were cleaned up a bit (violence or sex or language). But allowing kids to hear the f word repeatedly is not something I am willing to do, because I am their parent & should not condone it. I am well aware they hear it at school, but they know I don’t approve of it & I won’t undermine that effort.
        So, basically my point is, it’s a great option for folks like me who’d love to take our children to see a great movie they otherwise would not be allowed to see.

      • Darby

        @Woot. ‘Filmmakers/distributors should not have to cater to that.’ No, they don’t have to, but if they do offer other versions, it will make some parents happy. Oh, and I don’t want to hear you complain the next time you see young kids in a rated R movie!!!

      • Julie

        So let’s get this straight, Darby. A movie where Colin Firth says sh*t over and over is OK for your kids, but not one where he says the f-word over and over? Why? What’s the difference?

      • billyD

        If a movie is rated R and you are a parent who doesn’t want you child to be subjected to what’s in an R rated movie, then do not take them or do not rent the movie for them to see. Whether it is a great movie or a bunch of trash doesn’t seem to be the point here. It is perfectly alright to let children wait until they are the correct age to see a movie. There’s no need to “familyize” a work of art to make it viewable for a child. Why does everything that is out there for adults need to be out there for kids as well? Let kids be kids and if they miss out on a great movie because they are too young to see it, it’s no big deal. They are not being denied anything they will retard their growth in any way. And they’ll have something else to look forward to as a young adult. We are letting kids experience too much while they are kids. By the time they grow up there’s no appreciation for what’s new and exciting about being grown up. *steps off soapbox*

      • Rated R Man

        Why do kids have to see this movie so badly? I know. So Harvey W. can make more money. That’s all that this is about and if you are buying into the idea that kids need to see this movie, then you are being suckered by Harvey. Please someone out there make a logical and winning argument that kids have to see THIS movie. What about 127 Hours. That was R because the dude cuts his arm off, but it is also a life affirming story that tells young people to appreciate what they have. Shouldn’t we argue for kids to see that movies as well. When I was younger I couldn’t watch the Breakfast Club because it was R. Isn’t that movie made for kids. How about Winter’s Bone which is about a young girl’s struggle against poverty and other obstacles. That is about a kid and it is rated R. Shouldn’t kids see that movie. At the end of the day, there are a bunch of R movies that you could argue that kids should see, so why all this hype over this one film. To sucker you out of more money. Plus, I’d rather kids learn about useful things, like appreciating your parents, or learning to overcome obstacles, Not how British Royalty has a stuttering problem. Get your priorities straight people.

      • Darby

        @Julie – If you don’t know the difference between S#$% & F#$@ then I can’t help you….

      • Steph

        @Darby, I think that Julie actually has a really good point. From what the article states, the new edit isn’t much cleaner. It’s a very arbitrary distinction that f*ck is not acceptable, but sh*t is. Darby, are you saying you’d be fine if your kids walked around shouting “Sh*t”?

      • Ryan

        Darby,

        The difference in meaning between S**T and F**K is nothing in the context of this movie. F**k is considered a “harsher” word and much less acceptable in teh time period this movie is set, which makes it a more powerful word to show what he is doing.

        The fact is the distributor should never f**k up a director’s vision like this. The movie was made, it made money, it won oscars, it was considered fantastic. This is a lesser version of the movie, just like a TV edit. The difference is the TV edit costs us nothing to watch, this is destroying the integrity of this film. With both the director AND lead actor say this is not somethng they condone, this should not have happened.

      • Rated R Man

        I’d say that Darby is a S**T and Julie is a F**K.

        That’s the difference.

      • TreS

        Well DARBY, maybe Julie can tell the difference between S**t and F**k but I cannot, so please elaborate. Why is one worse than the other. Or why are they worse than any other I have written in this sentence?

        Only idiots and sheep get offended by the words themselves and not the message being sent with those words.

      • Rated R Man

        Hey I figured it out.

        Kids 0-18 are allowed to S**T as much as they want, but here in America it is illegal for them to F**K. Darby’s got a point after all.

        All kids S**T but do not F**k

        Quick, let the Queen of England know.

      • Rio

        I have two kids under age 17 and took them to see the movie. I knew about the language before hand and how important it was, and explained the context. I would much rather they see a rated R movie like TKS than all the PG-13 movies that have rampant sex and violence. Those things are far more offensive and impressionable on young minds than the sex and violence that is so pervasive in PG13 movies these days. I think the movie should have been a PG13 to begin with – the ratings system is totally messed up with what movies pass for PG13 and then this fantastic movie being a R. (and I’d like to add that I’m clergy – so it’s rare that people say any words around me :)

      • Jose

        Darby, you say that you allow your kids to watch PG-13 movies after you viewed it first. If you viewed this film first back when it was R rated you would’ve seen that there is nothin R worthy about. It still has profainity in it so why didn’t you at least see the film for yourself to see if it was worth the R rating?

      • Bobby F

        Can’t we all just get along? Why call each other idiots just because we don’t agree? How about this, give your opinion and stop with the name calling. Those two things don’t have to be synonymous (sp?) with each other.

      • Justin

        If cleaning up a film makes such a big difference in the quality of the film, then I say that film wasn’t so great to begin with. I rest my case with TKS. I never thought it was a great film anyway–even in the R rated version.

      • fg

        I saw this movie yesterday and did not realize I was seeing the PG-version. The scenes where he swears to loosen up seemed weird and stilted in a movie that was otherwise perfect and now I know why and feel a little cheated. Parents who want to let their kids see this movie should use it as a teaching moment rather than a case for censorship. It shows how screwed up the priorities of the ratings board are if a beautiful inspiring movie without the sex and violence of many PG-13 films can’t get away with a few meaningful f-bombs

    • LOL

      I’m guessing that everyone who wanted to see it has already done so. This is a waste of time. The film was just fine in its original form.

      • Cindy Sue

        Now that it is PG13 I will go see it. I had not seen it before and am happy they edited it. All those concerned with the artistic importance can watch the “R” version. But I am glad to have a version I am willing to see. What is so wrong with wanting to appeal to both sides of this issue?

      • Carrie

        You refused to go see the film that was awarded The Best Picture of the year because you would hear the f-word five times? Pathetic.

      • Moo

        Carrie: I’m sorry, but when the Academy dubs something “the Best Picture of the Year” that doesn’t mean anything to most people who aren’t (a) sheep or (b) lemmings. I don’t need the Academy to tell me what films are quality. Do you think everything they give an Oscar to is fantastic? THAT’S pathetic.

      • raingod

        @Cindy Sue it’s called artistic integrity-something you apparently know nothing about.

      • Carrie

        Thanks for completely missing my point, Moo. Cindy Sue ALREADY wanted to see the movie, and like the majority of people who already bought a ticket, was most likely inspired to see it based on its rave reviews, positive word of mouth, and (yes) awards. NOWHERE did I imply that you need the Academy to tell you what films are quality – But the fact that it won AND IS BEING TOUTED AS “BEST PICTURE” IN THE ADS FOR THE PG-13 VERSION sort of implies that it is a selling point, don’t ya think? And for the record, the “sheep” and “lemmings” are the ones who blindly believe the MPAA’s ratings.

      • Anonymous

        If you refused to see this movie because there are a few f-words in it you are an ignorant idiot. I may sound like an ignorant idiot for saying that, but really people, grow up. Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away, and it certainly doesn’t make you a better person. Get off of your high horse.

      • A mom

        I think on a few levels this is great. They will now be able to show it in schools without a lot of fuss. I have a 12-year-old who has speech problems who I now feel is able to watch it. I haven’t seen the original but have only heard great things but as a mom, I’m happy to have a more language appropriate alternative for my kids. It’s about having a choice and a viable option. All those who want to see the original still can and for those of us who avoid bad language–we can. WIN-WIN

      • @ A mom

        I’m a teacher (8th grade) and I won’t be able to show the PG-13 version in school. It still contains one f-word and several s-words; if I showed it in class parents would complain and I’d probably get fired.

      • Matthew Paul

        While I am all for movies being preserved in the form envisioned by their directors, I must say that this re-release of this movie is an interesting move.

        As a child, I struggled with a bad stutter and had to work with a speech tutor for a few years. I think that the very first film where the protagonist is one whose speech impediment is taken seriously, and not for laughs.

        I think other kids who struggle with speech problems as well as those with Tourettes will get alot from this film. It creates understanding for the family and friends of those younger audiences.

        In the long run, it only helps the film. After all, when those kids grow up they can make the decision to see the original version.

        This whole thing is harmless and quite possibly might just fill a greater good.

      • SliceandDice

        OK, following your logic…
        – We’ll have a new version without the F word.
        – Then, we should have a cleaner version with no S words.
        – Then, we should have a pure version with no swear words of ANY kind.
        – But wait, we need another version to delete the horrible situation of the King of England having an affair with an American divorcee. Must protect the little kiddies.
        – And then…
        Absurd? Of course.
        The movie should stand as filmed. See it on not – the decision is up to you. But the filmmakers should not be forced to reduce their vision to the lowest common denominator.

      • fg

        I unfortunately did not get the chance to see the movie till yesterday and being a friday afternoon with a lot of kids off for spring break I did not see any kids at this “new and improved”. In fact at age 50 I believe I was the youngest person of the about 30 attending. The true audience for this version is probably not kids who lets face aren’t going to go to this without the urging of their parents but the elderly who haunt the week day afternoon showings of “family friendly” movies

    • RT

      Yes, now all those millions of teenagers who have been dying to see a period drama about the House of Windsor but who were prevented doing so by their parents and vigilant theater managers turning them away will now be able to see the movie they have been clamoring to see for the past 4 months.

      Absurd.

      • Moo

        Is it so hard to believe that there are many adults who consciously choose not to watch rated R films?

      • Steph

        Yes it is. That’s like saying you won’t visit a museum because there are nude paintings in it. The R rating is completely arbitrary and is given by a bunch of blowhards who wouldn’t know a good film if their life depended on it.

      • Moo

        Not COMPLETELY arbitrary. I agree that some movies got an R-rating that probably should have been PG-13 and vice versa. However, the POINT of the rating system is so that we have at least some guide as to the content of the movie before we are subjected to something that we don’t want to see.

        I understand that my point of view is not shared by the majority. But sure, if I didn’t want to see nude paintings, I wouldn’t go to an art museum that I knew had nude paintings. That’s the most logical thing in the world Steph. We all make our own choices. And for years now, I have chosen not to watch certain films because I find certain content to be repugnant to my sensibilities. Now I am supposed to be mad at the Weinstein Company for editing out stuff I would find offensive? And everyone else is all up in arms because their precious R-rated film has been toned down? Honestly: why do you care if you still have access to the film in its original form?

      • Woot

        But Moo, at this time we don’t have access to the original. The only version in the theater is the edited version. And I understand that you feel differently then most, but we can’t cater and pander to the minority all the time.

      • Shawn

        Geez Moo, you seem so f*cking annoying.

      • Moo

        Buy the Rated-R DVD when it comes out, Woot. Problem solved.

        Stay classy, Shawn.

      • Alex

        “But Moo, at this time we don’t have access to the original.”

        Is it really going to kill you to wait one or two months for the R-rated video release?

      • Larry

        Moo – The original version is rated PG in Canada. I think this shows just how arbitrary these ratings are. I really don’t have a problem with people choosing to not see a film for personal reasons. It’s their loss, not mine. But by “choosing” not see any R rated films in the US, you really aren’t making any choice at all. If you really want to make a personal decision, you need to do a bit more research and decide if a few f-bombs (rather than one) is really worth missing a great film. I think it’s too bad that had this version not been released, people would have refused to see it based on a few words that actually play an integral role in the film. Especially when, if you crossed the border and blindly followed Canadian ratings, you would have seen it. If you moved to Canada, would you see the original version? I’m actually curious…

      • nancyD

        @Darby, the movie is hardly filled with F bombs, and that is the point. There are only a couple of instances where these words are used, and this judicious use of them is essential to the character of the man’s frustrations.

        I doubt that this nuance would be apparent to an 8 and a 10 year-old, nor would they understand the sheer import of that final speech. Why is it so necessary for you to take them to this particular movie? Give them a few years – they will have heard these words a lot more in real life, and they may appreciate the struggles of the king even more.

        In any rate, the ratings board is a mess, considering this elegant, well-written movie received an R while violence-riddled movies get PG-13s. Absurd, again.

    • raingod

      @Darby So everyone has to cowtow to you just because you decided to pollute the gene pool with your brats?

      • Darby

        @raingod. It’s nice to have the option of taking children to this great movie, which is the whole point of this version. I see no reason why you are all so upset about it. Parents don’t like their young kids to hear repeated f-bombs. That’s just the way it is. Get over yourself.

      • Ted

        Because it’s censorship,Darby. I have a lot of respect for you and your desire to take your kids to see this film. But I’m not willing to support censorship for it. Explain to your kids WHY the king is using the f-word in the movie, why it is for adults and why it is a bad word. Also your comments “that’s just the way it is” and “Get over yourself” make me much less sympathetic to you, although I realize it is tough to debate with 10 people at once.

      • Will

        @Darby,

        The edited version still contains the f-work. Your kids will still hear the f-work in the censored version, why does it matter if they hear it 4 more times?

    • Bluto

      “A Weinstein Company press release claims that the new version of The King’s Speech is meant for young people — so that, say, a child who stutters would have the opportunity to see it and to be inspired by it.”

      Wow—what utter BS.

    • cath

      I wish it were a joke. There are films on TV and Theatre films that could do with such scrutiny, but this decision damages Art.

      The Movie won the awards because it earned them. Under the stressful circumstances, King
      George’s language was appropriate.

      The original movie stands on its own merits. What a shame.

    • Color Me Impressed

      **** censorship.

  • Necro

    Absolute nonsense.

    • Chelsea

      It’s ridiculous. If the context of the swearing was different, maybe I’d understand, but it’s used as a form of therapy of all things.

    • Laura

      I completely agree with Owen. It marks the liberation of Bertie, so it’s very stupid to change it. It changes the tone of the scene, and I think kids are used to that kind of language. Most of them use the same words, or worst, on a daily basis. Besides, I think parents who see the movie with their kids can explain the situation if they are worried that much about what their children learn.

      • Ktct

        @Laura: Agreed. I am waiting for the original to come out on DVD so I can watch it at home with my kids (11 &13), one of whom has speech issues due to hearing loss. This way, I can talk to them during the movie, which I wouldn’t due in the theater, and if they are bored,they can go in another room.

  • Rock Golf

    I really have to admire the utter hypocrisy of the MPAA. One f*** good. Two f***s bad. Really, is there any child anywhere in America that by age 13 hasn’t heard that word at least 10,000 times in different ways?
    And what horrid side effect would saying that word cause to these virgin ears? Would it cause seizures? Induce crime sprees? Incite pillaging?
    Shame on the MPAA for their prurient decision, and shame on the Weinstein Co for kowtowing to it.

    • HoldMeCloserTonyDanza

      When I saw The Kings Speech I wasn’t really offended by the use of the language. I’m normally the one who is the prude who hates explicit sex/violence/language in movies but in this case it was important to the story. I don’t understand why it was neutered. It it really going to make that much money? Are there really that many preteens clamboring to see a 1930’s history piece? I doubt it.

    • Ana

      Really, this isn’t about the MPAA, though they often don’t make sense. The ratings exist to give viewers as to what to expect in the movie they’re about to see. (Though given the furor over Rango it’s clear most people ignore them anyway.) This is about Weinstein unnecessarily tampering with art in order to make a few extra bucks.

    • Chet

      If your kid rides the bus, he or she has heard the f-word.

  • Jose

    I’m not interested in watching it, and if this was supposed to be a money maker that’s intended for families, why release it on the same weekend as Hop? It’s obvious which one kids will want to see. (And how funny is it that the f word is gone and instead we get the s word?)

    • Ana

      The f-word is “sexual” in nature and therefore is worse for young ears. I think the presence of one f-word automatically means an R rating.

      • S.

        Really? Multiple people can be murdered and it is rated PG-13, but one f-bomb merits an R? So what if it is “sexual” – at 13 they’ve already had sex education.

      • Woot

        One F-bomb warrants PG-13. As long as they avoid saying it again, a film can still be PG-13.

      • fgdsg

        The word also can’t refer to sex act in a PG-13 movie. So, “F**k this” would be ok, but “We f****d like rabbits last night” would earn an R.

      • Frustrated…

        Ana, that’s the most ignorant and non-sensical thing I’ve ever read. One, the f-bomb does not exclusively have a sexual connotation. Obviously, you’re not a George Carlin fan. Two, even if it used as a reference to sex, how does hearing that word make it worse for children than hearing “shagged”, “did it”, “scored” or a hundred other synonyms for sex that can be uttered any number of times in a PG or PG-13 film. It’s just a word. Context and the meaning behind the word is what matters. And how is it worse than them seeing rampant violence or drug use on screen? Please, explain to me how the word “f*&k” harms kids more because of its sexual connotations.

  • Andre

    Support “The King’s Speech” by NOT seeing the edited version. Hopefully it completely bombs at the box office and when released for home sale/rental, the edited version also doesn’t sell.

    The power whether this edited version succeeds or not, and the message it sends to distributors is entirely in the hands of the movie-going public.

    And I agree, that that scene, as originally presented, is pivotal. Change the film’s name to “The Muted King” for the edited release to emphasize you’re not seeing the original edit.

    • Cindy Sue

      I want to buy it just to show the distributors that there is a market for the cleaned up versions. Why can’t we have both? Why must it be only one way? There are lots of movies I would buy if I could buy a cleaner version. Freedom of choice means everyone gets a choice not just way one.

      • Meg

        I honestly didn’t even realize it was R-rated. It sure did not feel like it would have been. I actually thought it was straight up PG. One hears much worse on one subway ride.

      • Maggie

        Freedom of choice means being able to choose not to see it, not that a version is made for everyone.

      • raingod

        Cindy-you need to get that stick out of your butt and join the real world. Not everything revolves around you and your censorship.

      • Cam

        Cindy, the original version is clean, classy and much more tame than much of what your children may see on tv. Please see the original without your kids and make the judgement. I hope you will see why the original scene is so important and why the folks here think its so important. You have made the judgement without seeing the original film.

      • GHB

        Cindy Sue, if you don’t want to see a film as it was originally intended to be seen, why don’t you just wait to see the next G-rated pablum that Disney is pushing?

      • Frustrated…

        Thank you Maggie, just what I was going to say. Cindy Sue, according to your understanding of “freedom of choice” they’d have to remake every single movie ever made. I could use a little sex and violence and profanity in my Pixar pics, methinks… Only joking, but seriously, freedom of choice does not mean everything has to be made specifically to cater to your needs. Not everything is about you (or your kids).

  • Moo

    I’ve decided for myself that I don’t watch rated R movies. So I, for one, am glad they’ve edited it down to a PG-13 movie so I can see it. You can whine about it all you want. I am one person that’s glad they have done it and I wish they would do it more. Just because a movie is full of sex, salty language and gruesome violence does not make it good. People assume that everyone in the world is more than comfortable with hearing the f-bomb. But I’m not. So yay for censorship!

    • Rock Golf

      Hilarious! You really had me going , Moo, until I read the date.

      • Moo

        Purely coincidental. I mean what I said.

      • Mr. Holloway

        That’s wonderful…

        …except that no one would EVER describe “The King’s Speech” as being “full of sex, salty language and gruesome violence.”

        I know this article sort of took a big picture approach, but in the specific case of TKS, this is utterly ridiculous.

      • Rock Golf

        Moo, I understand you don’t want to break kayfabe, but come on…
        You’d let a single syllable in totally non-sexual context prevent you from seeing exactly the type of film you claim to prefer? Because a group of people who will apply the same rating to a horror film slap a different arbitrary letter on the films rating?

        That’s like not reading the Bible, because it includes incest.

      • Moo

        Rock Golf: I don’t really feel like you want to hear all of the philosophical musings I’ve had on the subject of my entertainment choices. My point is this: clearly the Weinstein Company perceives a market for a PG-13 rated “The King’s Speech.” And they’ve decided to exploit that market. And for some reason, it is offending most of the people on this board (oh sure, and the director and Colin Firth). Chill out. If the PG-13 version is not for you, don’t watch it.

      • Frustrated…

        Yay for censorship you say? No one forced you to watch the film as originally released. If a few little f-words scared you, you were perfectly free to boycott it, as you clearly did. The point of the article was that this sort of censorship has set a dangerous precendent where good movies can be dumbed down to cater to the lowest common denominator (read “irrational, ignorant puritans”) just to make a few more bucks, that artistic integrity means nothing anymore when money is involved. Everyone suffers when a film’s artistic, social, or political value is compromised due to censorship. If a film’s content offends you, just don’t see it. But don’t demand that it be edited so that it comports better with your own particlar sensibilities so you can. That’s incredibly selfish, narcissistic, and short-sighted.

    • shnazzle

      Our family, too, does not watch R rated movies – and this was one that I really wanted to see! We are happy for the option – not sure why all you that already have enjoyed it care that another version exists.

      • sally

        We care because it completely changes the tone of the movie. It’s uncalled for. Colin Firth’s character isn’t calling a person any degrading word he’s using them as a form of therapy. It’s needed and the movie is better because of it.

      • Chelsea

        Sorry, but there’s absolutely nothing that’s unsuitable for children in the film. It should never have been rated R to begin with. If people really think their kids aren’t hearing swear words (and saying them behind their backs) in school, they’re sadly mistaken. The swearing IS PART OF THE THERAPY—it’s even how Bertie gets through his speech in the finale of the film. You take it away, and it’s not the same movie at all.

      • Rock Golf

        If you really wanted to see it, then you should have seen it!
        Would you demand that Michealangelo’s Sistine Chapel paper over the dangly bits? There aren’t fig leaves on the real thing, ya know.
        If you really think that a single syllable heard in a film will undo your years of childrearing, don’t worry, you did a fine job, it won’t. They’ll turn out fine.

      • Ted

        I care because the movie is being censored. Sorry, I’m again censorship. Seriously against it. I respect all of those of you who have families and don’t watch R-rated films, but I’m not willing to CENSOR any movie, book or any such thing for it. That simply should never be done. Ever. Even for the benefit of families and kids. This is a free country, you have choice; either take your family to the film and explain the words to your children or do not go. Censorship, especially in the movie theater to a movie which has already been released, is horrible and that’s what’s being done here. Harvey and Co. are making a BIG mistake here, they’re rolling back a long-protected tradition of respecting and protecting film from censorship. That’s not worth it just because some families do not feel like explaining to their kids why bad language is being used.

    • sally

      Yay for censorship? Really? I’m just going to assume this is a troll and not somebody who wishes we were living in George Orvill’s 1984.

      • Moo

        Why should we embrace filth?

      • RT

        If Colin Firth’s character had punched Geoffrey Rush’s character in that scene instead of dropping a handful of f-bombs it would have never been rated R. Yes folks, in American society today violence is OK, but profanity? Shudder!

      • Moo

        Movie violence is fake. Movie profanity is real. There’s the distinction.

      • Rock Golf

        What makes profanity “real”? Why are “fake”, “folk”, “faulk” and “flick”, “buck” and “puck” all perfectly acceptable words whereas the word in question here is “profane”?

      • Moo

        Rock Golf = Well, I consider it to be profane because it offends me. It may not be profane to you, and I have no problem with that.

      • Frustrated…

        Moo, please don’t comment if you are going to just submit nonsense. Movie violence is fake but movie profanity is real? So I suppose you are okay with full frontal nudity and sex in films, then, and long as there are no four-letter words involved? Rediculous.

    • Cindy Sue

      I totally agree with you. I am the same way. I don’t care that there are “R” rated or worse out there but I would love more stuff that is cleaner. I want to be able to choose what is right for me and my family.

      • RT

        Movie sex is fake too, yet it gets treated more harshly by the ratings system than violence does. Also if the message of a movie is to glorify violence (and a lot of movie violence does) this sends a far more damaging that a few f-bombs do — particularly the f-bombs in the context of this movie.

      • Ted

        Respect this opinion as well but still disagree with it. Hollywood makes plenty of movies for families, children and teenagers. This is not one. Part of having a family and children is sometimes having to compromise what movies you want to see. That is not the end of the world. There are tons of good movies which simply are not for kids. Sorry either go by yourself, with a friend, a spouse, a significant other, a stranger, whatever. Just don’t take your kids. The answer is not to tone down adult films so families can go see them. The answer is for families to either go see one of the dozens of family films, children films or teenage films out there.

    • Meg

      However in this movie, there is no sex or gruesome violence. There’s hardly any saucy language. There are 2 scenes where a few words are said. It’s really that innocent and seems a bit arbitrary on the MPAA’s part.

    • raingod

      Moron.

      • Moo

        Wow, you are eloquent, raingod. If you are the typical “sample” of a “King’s Speech” fan, maybe I don’t need to see it. Stay in school!

    • Andre

      How do you sensor your real world? Not be ignorant, but I hear more swearing on an average day walking down the street than is in “The King’s Speech”. The scene and context are pivotal to the plot progress. I wouldn’t believe it for a moment that the same could be done with him yelling “oh silly butterfly lids!!”. There is no nudity or violence in the film.

    • DJ

      @Moo…seriously, I think you made your point. Because The King’s Speech had the “f” word in it, it was filth. Now, with most of the “f” words taken out, it’s not offensive to your delicate sensibilities. So you can stop posting it over and over again. Don’t you have a tea party rally to go to or something?

    • Abz

      Alright, here’s what I don’t understand. I’m alright with people saying ‘I don’t want to see a rated-R movie – it probably is nothing but swearing, sex, blood, and violence.’ That’s a personal preference, and I’m alright with it. But for those people who truly allowed one scene that’s on screen for what, a couple of minutes top, the scene with garnered an R rating entirely for the use of one word, prevent them from seeing this film, I genuinely don’t understand how you came to this conclusion. Before you vilify me, here’s why. We all knew, from previews and reviews and interviews with the actors and director and so forth, that this was NOT a film filled with violence, nudity, sex, guns, and the normal ‘trash’ that R-rated films typically have. This was a period piece with critically-acclaimed actors and a storyline that was beyond reproach. Is hearing one swear word for maybe two minutes REALLY such a moral outrage that you couldn’t bend your normal ‘I don’t see R-rated movies’ stance?

      So many times, people are called ‘lemmings’ or ‘sheep’ for allowing external pressures influence decisions. In fact, Moo, you yourself used that analogy when replying to Carrie earlier, and saying that you don’t need the Academy to tell you what films are quality. But you, and those out there who allowed ONE WORD to push them away from such a critically and socially respected film, all because that one word garners an R rating, aren’t you right then and there sheep or lemmings? Instead of making the decision that the film itself was more important than one swear word, aren’t you all lemmings for saying, ‘oh, nope, sorry, rated R. Can’t go spend ten bucks to see it.’? I just don’t see the difference.

      • Rick

        @ ABZ, this won’t explain the reasoning well, but I would imagine that the “R” Rating keeping people away probably has something to do with the New Testament verse about not allowing yourself to be a stumbling block to others. Even though the decision to make TKS R was foolish and wrong, there are people who don’t want to appear as hypocrites by attending a movie rated “unacceptable” by the powers that be. Moo and the others probably have made a conscious decision not to attend movies rated that way to prevent themselves from negatively affecting others. Does that make sense?

  • Scott

    Much Ado about Nothing.

    The Weinsteins have always about controversy and free advertising. And it’s not censorship if you choose to do it to yourself.

    No one forced him to. He just wants to make more money. He’s never had integrity so you can’t questions his lack of any now.

    He just wants to squeak every dime out of the theaters before it comes out on DVD in a few weeks. Maybe even an “Unrated” version so he can make even more money!

    • Jennifer

      But it wasn’t his film, his artistic vision. The director was vehemently against it. Therefore it is censorship.

  • Cat

    Considering it is a laugh out loud moment in the movie, that alone should discourage the reediting. Funny how we tolerate all kinds of violence in film but not some (well placed) naughty words that actually have a reason to be there.

    • sally

      Agreed Cat.

    • Ellen

      I also agree with “Cat,” even though I personally do not use the “F-word.” I thought those moments were important to the movie, and should not be censored, even if I did wince a bit when I heard them. As a teacher, I respect Darby’s wishes to shelter her kids for as long as she can, but I think an exception can be made in this case. As others have said, Darby could simply prepare her kids in advance that this is coming, and explain why the king is saying these words.

  • Lizzie

    Wow, nothing like compromising artistic integrity to make a buck. “Every day on television, you see movies, often great ones, that have been chopped, trimmed, “cleaned up,” and re-edited by networks and distributors”…you’re right about that and they always suck. Who exactly are they catering to with this new version? This is not subject matter that will interest any 13 year old that I know or most 16 or 17 year olds for that matter. This was a wonderful film, as is and why they can’t allow the younger audience to see it in the original form when they are old enough to appreciate it is beyond me.

    • LBH

      I would have liked to have seen it when I was in that age range. But my parents would have had no problem accompanying me to see the R rated version, which I’m sure is the case for most teenage film/history junkies.

  • Mel B

    I saw the movie a while back after it went to wide distribution, and I would like to see it again, but I’d make d*** sure it was the R version. I hate watching movies that are edited. Case in point: I only ever saw “Pretty Woman” on the small screen until I bought DVD as an adult and realized Julia didn’t say “Holy *cow*!” So when the edited word came out in it’s true form instead, I had to go back and make sure I did hear what I thought I heard, and then I laughed at myself for not catching it before. :)

  • Emma

    I am appalled by this. The language in TKS was not gratuitous, but used to make a *point*. This is the opposite from a majority of films you see today, that used “f*** for f***’s sake”.

    And to the parents who go on and on about the language in films: shut up. Don’t pretend like you’ve NEVER dropped the f-bomb in front of your kids (or maybe even directed towards them) after a long day.

    Lastly, America is SO prudish sometimes! Isn’t this re-relase for *American* audiences? I bet the Europeans are having a chuckle over the ridiculousness of it all right now.

    • Lizzie

      Oh hell yes, how do Americans (or at least some of them) get so worked up about words? They only have the power you imbue them with, and as a parent you can take away their power by explaining to your child both what the word truly means and why you prefer they don’t use it. Oh, and just in case you didn’t realise, they’ll then go ahead and use it anyway, because it’s more or less normal language for kids these days when they think adults aren’t listening. Swear words mean something completely different to kids, just ask them!

  • anonymous

    “I’ve decided for myself that I don’t watch rated R movies. So I, for one, am glad they’ve edited it down to a PG-13 movie so I can see it. You can whine about it all you want. I am one person that’s glad they have done it and I wish they would do it more. Just because a movie is full of sex, salty language and gruesome violence does not make it good. People assume that everyone in the world is more than comfortable with hearing the f-bomb. But I’m not. So yay for censorship!”

    Just because your not comfortable with something doesn’t mean everything should be censored. Movies should not have to always cater to the tastes of people who are offended by Rated R movies.Language, sex and violence don’t necessarily make a film good but some good movies do contain them and in some cases its important that they be included.

    • Moo

      You have the option of seeing the R-rated version. Why shouldn’t I be able to see the PG-13 version if the makers of the movie give it their blessing?

      • Carrie

        Well for one thing, in this case the makers of the movie DID NOT give it their blessing!!!

      • Moo

        Fine. The producers? The distributors? This isn’t like some person in their basement editing a film and violating copyright laws. The people who own the movie have chosen to make it accessible to a broader audience.

        I have no idea why so many of you are so mad at that. You saw the rated R version. This doesn’t hurt you at all.

      • LBH

        But the movie makers didn’t give their blessing. Tom Hooper, the director (who won an Oscar for his direction), and Colin Firth (who won an Oscar for his portrayal of the lead role), are both very upset about the changes. I haven’t seen an interview with the screenwriter, who also won the Oscar for his script–F words and all–but I can imagine that he wouldn’t be too pleased about the censorship of his Award winning script.

        Your argument that movie violence is fake whilst movie swearing is real does not hold up. It is a feature film, not a documentary, and therefore it is all pretend.

        I am an adult, but if I were in that 13-16 age range, my parents would have taken me to the theater to see this film, as they knew that a few F words would not cause me to begin swearing like a sailor, especially at a cathartic moment.

      • raingod

        Because that’s not how the movie was intended to be seen. Even a three year old could understand that, why can’t morons like you?

      • Moo

        No, YOUR argument does not hold up. Movie violence is fake. When we see people shot and maimed and bloodied and bruised, we know it’s all fake. No one is being killed or hurt.

        Profanity is profanity. No cinematic trickery required.

      • Moo

        Raingod, why are you so eager to protect the “artistic endeavors” of people who created this movie? Why are so worried about that stupid thing called “artistic integrity”? These people do what they do for one reason only = MONEY. So maybe YOU should stop being a moron and realize that while you may think you are pleading on behalf of a higher cause, those people are not worth your concern.

      • Julia

        Moo: as someone in the independent film industry, this censorship makes me deeply upset. To spend months, sometimes years working on something only to have it be altered is a kick. It is true that many people in the mainstream movie industry make films just for money, but that is not the case with this film. As independent filmmakers, we do highly value artistry, rather than money. If this was some high budget blockbuster that was being censored, I wouldn’t have a problem with it, but this film IS art, and was made for that reason.

        And you’re right, you do have freedom of choice over movies. Which means that you have the choice to decide what movies you want to see.

        Oh, and Moo? You really need to get laid because you are uptight as hell.

      • Lisa Simpson

        Moo – No one has ever died imitating the swearing in a movie, so your argument that violence is fake doesn’t hold water.

        Your aruguments against R-rated movies are fine for you, and we’re glad that you don’t go to the grown-up movies. But artistic integrity is not a minor consideration. And really, as far as the delicate ears involved are concerened, what’s the difference between a bunch of f-words used solely as expletives and one f-word and bunch of s-words used in the same context? There isn’t any difference that would make the movie more wholesome. It does, however, weaken the power and integrity of the scenes involved.

      • Sarah

        Oh, bloody hell. Your argument is so ridiculous, I’m starting to think you’re just trolling. “When we see people get shot…” Who is “we”? All viewers? Adults? Teenagers? Kids? Toddlers? You would show your 8-year-old a movie full of gore and hardcore violence and (just to keep your logic going) explicit sex as long as it contained zero “real” profanity? It’s all fake, right? Those images have nooooo effect on kids at all, right? Holy hell…

      • Arizona

        “And when you’re facing down that Canadian with his hockey stick, or whatever he has, just remember what the MPAA says: Horrific, deplorable violence is O.K., as long as no one says any naughty words!”

        I particularly like the argument that “fake” violence is of no consequence, when generations of shrinks, sociologists, pundits, politicians, and other hand-wringers have been making the exact opposite point for literally DECADES now.

      • Arizona

        I also love the idea that because the profanity of the F-bomb is based in sexuality rather than other perfectly natural bodily functions, that somehow is what makes it worse. Given that there’s currently, what, 7.6 billion (?) people in the world, I think we should all be able to agree that sex is not some sort of disgusting, immoral activity only engaged in by degenerates and criminals. Just sayin’.

      • Arizona

        And, finally, I was under the impression that “sanitized” versions of many popular films have already been available for some time now, through production companies who acquired a license to re-edit the original material and distribute it through “family values” groups of various sorts. So if you’re really dying to know what all the fuss is about, say, Taxi Driver or Pulp Fiction, you can watch the fifteen-minute-long version, available through your friendly local ultraconservative watchdog committee. The difference here is that the company which owns the film, rather than licensing it for redistribution, has made a decision to alter it and redistribute it themselves, marketing it as a different and separate product from the original and thereby creating an artificial market which wouldn’t have existed otherwise. Can anyone say New Coke? I would find this decison just as offensive if, say, 20th-Century Fox had decided, on their own, without the permission of LucasArts or George Lucas himself (may he burn in hell) to re-release a new, improved, Jar-Jar-free version of The Phantom Menace. It’s pandering, plain and simple, pandering just as egregious as deliberately filling a movie with sex and violence and cussing in order to meet a target demographic, as most of you who are so offended by the F-bomb seem to think is the case in 99% of R-rated films.

  • Cantu

    Mountain – Molehill.

    If you want to see the proper version, see the original. It will be available on blu-ray and dvd soon enough.

    If the re-release makes more money for the people who are entitled to make more money from it, good for them. If the re-release broadens the audience and gains new viewers because of it, good for them.

    I understand the director being opposed to changing the movie — it is an inferior version to the original cut.

    At the end of the day, however, no one is really harmed by this.

    If the movie was never released in its original format to begin with, merely for the sake of reaching a wider audience, it would be a different issue altogether.

    • Jennifer

      But this sets a dangerous precedent. Let’s say that movies are made like this from now on: a “clean” version and a “dirty” version. Eventually, the “clean” version will be the only option available because it is the most broadly appealing. It will naturally make more money. Even the films that use offensive things artistically/naturally/minimally, will be diluted and censored. This idea of appealing to everyone is already hurting films. For example, Blue Valentine never came to theatre near me and all the theatres cited the same reason: it was too controversial and too “dirty”. I was appalled. Little things like censoring the King’s Speech (of all movies) is setting a bad precedent.

      • Terry

        It’s not really a precedent. I remember the studio doing the same thing to Saturday Night Fever 30 years ago.

      • Jhen

        Did I just read that right? That you are worried that eventually “clean” versions will take over? Is this website for real? What happened to family values and respect for those who have them? Why is everyone debating about kids watching rated R movies? I’m a mother of 6 kids and I NEVER watch rated R movies, neither do my friends. PG-13 may not guarantee a perfect movie, but I do my homework on it, ask around and do my best to minimize the kind of filth I take in. Why is that difficult to understand? Stop with all of the “artistical” nonsense. If it’s filthy,it’s filthy. Only good comes out of trying to include others, no one is being excluded, both versions exist. I’m mad that I even wasted time replying. Stupidest debate ever…

    • nancyD

      @ Cantu – the artists are harmed by this. The director, whose vision is being butchered, the actor whose words are being blunted, and worst of all the writer who put his heart, soul and true experiences – in this case – are being harmed.

      How many movies in the past were sliced and diced by movie executives, only to have film aficionados later try to excavate old film to replace cut segments and restore a film to its original glory? Those were harmed by the same thought process going on here.

      But really – this has nothing to do with making this palatable for G and PG audiences. It is really just about the money. Dangerous precedent being set by Weinstein.

  • Jenna

    Owen, doesn’t it strike you as ironic that your criticism of this “censorship” is via a blog where you can’t spell out the words in question? Hmmm?

    Mountain out of a molehill. The R version has been around for 4 months, ample time for anyone who wants to have seen it.

    • Maggie

      It’s not ironic, they are two completely different venues and really two completely different issues.

  • Lisa

    I’m wondering, when it’s released on DVD, will we be able to purchase the “original” edit? I loved the movie the way it was. That one scene was funny but also seemed kind of a turning point where he starts to really make progress. It makes me sad that they did this.

    • davey

      Lisa, the original edit is already for sale online and will be released in a few weeks. I haven’t seen the PG-13 version on sale yet.

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