Aware that the UK has the most restrictive regulations in Europe on the screening of sexual violence, Gaspar Noe director of scandal film Irreversible challenged the UK censors to ban the film or leave it well alone.
"I don't think it will be released if it needs to be cut. I could not understand a country like England asking for any cuts of this movie, when the Cannes film festival, which is the most crucial arts festival in the would has shown it in competition," he said after Irreversible's UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
The film provoked strong reactions from the audience with numerous walkouts from both the public and industry screenings. The Argentinian-born director of the film, which features a graphic night club slaying and a real-time anal rape, said he had not set out to shock. "This is not a dangerous film. It is more likely to cool down the spirits of anyone into power-trips," he said.
"That doesn't mean that people hate the movie, it just means that people can't handle the emotions on the screen," said Noe, commenting on the walk-outs, before admitting that he had walked out of Straw Dogs in his youth. With the story told backwards, he also added "[The people who leave early] don't get the whole experience, they just get the dark part and the animal part of the movie."
Despite the potential for a clash between distributor and the British Bureau of Film Classification, the UK was one of the first territories to buy Irreversible. In a pre-emptive strike at the AFM, Metro Tartan bought the film from sales agent Wild Bunch.