Crashing Out

Martin Barker

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It is now four years since the considerable crisis that pervaded British cinema politics finally juddered to a halt as David Cronenberg's Crash (1996) was released at last to the screens, uncut as an '18'. The controversy lasted exactly a year. In June 1996, Alexander Walker published his condemnation of the film in the London Evening Standard. Following a longish pause, the Daily Mail – from the same publishing stable – took up the cause, albeit much more crudely, and mounted a steadily intensifying campaign to block the film's release. Repeated front-page banner headlines combined with attempts to use MPs and other political figures as opinion conduits, approaches to every local authority in the country seeking action against the film, led on to journalists door-stepping individual examiners from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). Although in the end their campaign failed, the toxins they implanted were mightily effective. Crash did very badly when released. In many places, multiplexes booked the film, probably hoping that the controversy would have stimulated a perverse wish to see it. When the opposite happened, the Mail claimed a kind of victory. The British public, about whose vulnerability they had been panicking for a year, suddenly proved to have the 'commonsense' necessary to reject the film.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-8
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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