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Sorry Little Kids: 3-Hour-Long Lesbian Sex Movie 'Blue Is The Warmest Color' Officially Rated NC-17

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist August 20, 2013 at 8:56PM

While issuing a lengthy decree about a number of upcoming movies and their respective ratings, the MPAA has revealed that the Palm d'Or-winning lesbian sex movie "Blue is the Warmest Color," scheduled for release in America on October 25th, will carry with it the restrictive NC-17 rating for what they consider "explicit sexual content." The ratings board couldn't even be bothered with specifics. They might as well have just given the reason as "ewww two girls doin' it," but that would have probably undermined their godlike power.
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Abdellatif Kechiche's 'Blue is the Warmest Color', Lea Seydoux

While issuing a lengthy decree about a number of upcoming movies and their respective ratings, the MPAA has revealed that the Palm d'Or-winning lesbian sex movie "Blue is the Warmest Color," scheduled for release in America on October 25th, will carry with it the restrictive NC-17 rating for what they consider "explicit sexual content." The ratings board couldn't even be bothered with specifics. They might as well have just given the reason as "ewww two girls doin' it," but that would have probably undermined their godlike power.

The movie, about a 15-year-old girl (Adele Exarchopoulos), whose life is turned upside down when she meets a blue-haired vixen (Lea Seydoux), won rave reviews at Cannes Film Festival (including our own) and eventually won the festival's top prize. A few weeks ago Sundance Selects officially picked up the movie for stateside distribution, while it was revealed that the movie would miss out on being up for the Best Foreign Film Oscar because of weirdly specific rules covering overseas releases. (It will still be eligible for Golden Globes consideration, for what it's worth, and will undoubtedly sweep the Teen Choice Awards, since there isn't a "Twilight" movie out this year.) 

The NC-17 rating, created in 1990 following the release of two highly publicized, ratings-less movies ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover"), has a history of restricting the movie's commercial viability given that many theater chains refuse to carry NC-17-rated movies and some newspapers and television stations won't air ads for movies with that rating. The most high profile NC-17 rated movie is still probably "Showgirls," which came out in 1995 and was a big, glitzy studio movie (featuring a fairly high budget of $40 million) that unabashedly embraced it's rating, which at least initially was meant to designated a movie specifically for adult audiences. In the years since its creation, of course, the rating has curdled into some naughty scarlet letter just as salacious as the rating it replaced: X.

Recent ratings battles involving an NC-17 include "Blue Valentine," which bafflingly was slapped with the rating for what can arguably be considered one of the least sexy sex scenes in the history of motion pictures, and, hilariously, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," a wonderful documentary expose on the MPAA which itself got condemned with an NC-17 rating for reproducing scenes from NC-17-rated movies. Legal scholar Julie Hilden has written about the MPAA's "masterpiece exception," which she feels the MPAA rewards for movies that it considers to be great works of art, explaining how Steven Spielberg's graphic powerhouse "Saving Private Ryan" slipped by with an R while this year's "Evil Dead" remake had to be heavily recut to receive the same rating.

We should probably remember, however, that "Blue is the Warmest Color" is a three-hour long French movie with lesbian sex sequences that many have claimed were not simulated. So it's not exactly fun for the whole family material. Update: Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects/IFC Film has responded to the ruling and it's a defiant one that shrugs at the label.

"This is a landmark film with two of the best female performances we have ever see on screen.  The film is first and foremost a film about love, coming of age and passion. We refuse to compromise Kechiche's vision by trimming the film for an R rating, and we have every confidence that BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR will play in theaters around the country regardless. An NC-17 rating no longer holds the stigma it once did, and we look forward to bringing this unforgettable film to audiences nationwide. We believe this film will leave a lasting imprint as the LAST TANGO IN PARIS for a whole new generation."

This article is related to: Blue is the Warmest Color , Lea Seydoux


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