Censorship in China

State media slams censors after Skyfall cuts

Xinhua issues rare rebuke for changes including the deletion of scenes in latest James Bond film

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 10:20am

Xinhua has published a rare admonishment of government censors for cutting and manipulating scenes in the latest James Bond movie, which hit mainland cinemas this week.

The state media organ said the censorship, which almost every foreign film goes through before reaching Chinese cinemas, highlighted a problem with the nation's movie-review system - that is, that decisions about cuts and changes to films are often arbitrary. In some cases, Xinhua reported, an anonymous letter drove what content was cut.

Skyfall began showing in mainland cinemas on Monday - nearly three months after the movie's premier in Britain. Foreign films' delayed mainland release is common due to the censorship process, and because preference is given to domestic productions.

However, government censors rarely, if ever, admit that content is cut or altered. All foreign movies are subject to review by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, Xinhua said.

Among the Skyfall scenes censors deleted was one in which a French hitman kills a Chinese security guard in a Shanghai skyscraper.

A scene depicting prostitution in Macau was also cut, as was a line spoken by Bond's nemesis mentioning that Chinese security agents had tortured him.

Furthermore, in a scene where Bond asks a mysterious woman whether she has been a prostitute since the age of 12 or 13, censors decided to keep the audio but alter the Chinese subtitles to indicate that Bond asked her whether she had become a triad member at that age.

Xinhua's criticism of the censorship came after a highly publicised row early this month between the editorial staff of a Guangdong-based magazine, Southern Weekly, and provincial propaganda authorities.

Professor Shi Chuan , who teaches at Shanghai University's School of Film and TV Arts and Technology, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that while authorities have reason to remove depictions of nudity or extreme violence in movies, as they violate Chinese law, a film's content should otherwise be left alone.

"Movie regulators should respect the producers' original ideas, rather than chopping scenes arbitrarily," he said.