Irish audiences were denied the full, uncut version of Casablanca for about thirty years, writes Joe Cushnan
The Irish Film Classification Office (IFCO) is responsible for assessing movies and certifying them for general release in cinemas and on DVDs. It aims to protect children and young persons, has regard for freedom of expression and has respect for the values of Irish society.
The three main IFCO principles are these – that adults over 18 should be free, within legal parameters, to choose what they wish to view, that under-18s should be protected from harm and that parental responsibility should be encouraged.
Films are assessed for suitability taking account of content such as sex, extra-marital activities, suggestiveness, language, violence and horror amongst others. The current censorship laws are framed to allow the IFCO to reflect the prevailing social values of the day.
The IFCO has been in existence for around 80 years and, in the beginning, it was extremely strict in deciding what could and could not be shown.
The first film censor was James Montgomery, a self-proclaimed ‘moral sieve’ determined to protect Irish citizens and he declared that he would be guided in his job by the Ten Commandments, aware that it would be futile to try to please everybody with his decisions. His remit gave him the authority to order cuts or to ban films outright.