Can you cut the swearing out of The King’s Speech?

Is The Weinstein Company really looking to release a version of The King’s Speech, but without the F-bombs? And how would that work, exactly?

You might have caught the news last week that The King’s Speech is the frontrunner in terms of nominations for this year’s Oscars. It’s a smashing film, too, featuring some very strong performances (not least from Geoffrey Rush).

It’s also being distributed by The Weinstein Company, and if anyone knows the history of the Weinstein brothers through their work at Miramax, they’ll know that few can put together an Oscar campaign with such effect.

However, one of The Weinstein Company’s plans for The King’s Speech hasn’t gone down very well at all. The problem the film faces in getting bums on seats to see it in the US, however, is the language within it. Without giving too much away if you’ve not seen it, there’s a moment or two absolutely littered with F-bombs, which is genuinely pivotal to the film’s story.

The film got a 12A rating in the UK, a surprisingly relaxed certificate for a film with so many occurrences of such language (after the BBFC reportedly accepted an argument that the cussing was contextual, and not aimed at anyone). But in the US, it’s been hit with an R, which The Weinstein Company reasons is hurting the film’s box office performance.

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The answer that’s being mooted? To put out a cut version of the film with a PG-13 rating, designed to be in cinemas for February. To get the PG-13 rating, the scene of said cussing would have to be trimmed right back at best. Which, for my money, would leave a hole in the midst of the film.

Director Tom Hooper, quoted in Entertainment Weekly, isn’t keen at all, and who can blame him? It’s not like he’s packed his film with unnecessary swearing, or characters with the potty mouths of action movie villains. Hooper said,”I wouldn’t support cutting the film in any way. I think we looked at whether it’s possible to bleep out the fucks and stuff, but I’m not going to actually cut that part.”

The very thought that a modern day cinema release was being considered with Jerry Springer Show-style bleeping over foul language is worrying as it stands. But appreciating that The Weinstein Company needs to make its money, that it backed the film, and that The King’s Speech is its biggest hit in a long time, surely this PG-13 cut needs to be nipped in the bud?

Granted, we, as an audience, would have a choice as to which version to see, but I’d feel sorry for those who caught the chopped version. Why? Because the scene that would need to be tinkered with is brilliant. It’s not swearing for swearing’s sake. It just works, and works really well.

What will we do next? Cut the violence out of Saving Private Ryan? Release a version of Schindler’s List in colour? Tell the cast of Chicagoto put a few more clothes on, else they’ll catch their death? How far do you go to make a few million more bucks for an awards-attracting movie?

We’ll see how this one pans out. To be clear, The Weinstein Company hasn’t commented on this furore at this stage, and it might just be an idea that it’s mooted at one point, which has been turned into something else by the might of the Internet.

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The firm also, surely, has a case with the MPAA, which has slapped a movie with an R rating purely on the basis of language that you’d hear every morning on the school bus. But the MPAA is not a moveable beast, it seems,

This one will, no doubt, be sorted one way or the other over the coming weeks, and here’s hoping the right thing is done. For now, here‘s that Entertainment Weekly report.

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