Talking Stone Film

Film Reviews & Headlines

Like everyone else, Germans like to
go to the movies and play computer games. And to ensure that children are not
exposed to inappropriate material, films and games are rated. For movies, this is done by
an organization called the FSK. The “F” stands for the German word
for “voluntary” — and it is, in the sense that the law doesn’t force
filmmakers to submit their films for approval. But without a rating, a film cannot be made
available to anyone under the age of 18. It works like this:
a movie is submitted to the FSK. They watch it and issue a rating. There are five possible ratings,
and they’re very easy to understand: they simply gave the minimum age
you have to be to watch it in the cinema or buy it on DVD or BluRay. The exception is the “12” rating. In cinemas, children from
the age of 6 can be admitted if they are accompanied by an adult. The FSK doesn’t actually censor anything, but can suggest some cuts that can be made
if the studio wants a lower rating. But then they have to go through
the whole submission process again, and it’s not cheap. Now, compared with American ratings, the FSK is a bit more tolerant of sex and nudity, and a bit less tolerant of violence. But this doesn’t usually make much difference. There are some exceptions. You can, for example, make a documentary
or an educational film, which, on your word of honour, has no sex
or violence or anything of that nature in it, and you can legally sell it openly on DVD
without FSK approval. It will then usually have a label like this on it, but that’s not a legal requirement. Of course, if it is discovered that
it should have been rated, the fines are astronomically high, so you really need to know what you’re doing. You can even show a non-rated movie in a cinema, but you have to be very careful about it. I once made a short film
that was shown in a local cinema, but we had to print our own special tickets so that legally speaking,
it was a private screening. The FSK can refuse to issue a rating, in which case the movie cannot be sold,
given or shown to anyone under the age of 18. This can happen if, for example,
it glorifies very extreme violence, or has particularly graphic scenes
that combine sex and violence. I mean, we’re not talking here about
your standard Hollywood rape scene. It’s not easy to be refused a rating:
it has to be very extreme. Cases like this can be referred
to a government agency, which may choose to put it
on the much-feared “index”. This is a series of lists of media
that have been judged harmful to young people. The lists are in two main groups. One group is lists of media
that have actually been banned, and cannot legally be distributed at all. The other group is lists of
media that haven’t been banned, but cannot be openly advertised or even displayed; and they can only be sold to adults
if they ask for them by title. Computer games undergo a similar process,
but this time by the USK. If you have ever browsed an app store here
in Germany, you may well have seen these ratings. Games also have another rating on them, but this has no actual legal force —
at least, not in Germany. This is a Europe-wide thing, and it is just a recommendation. Like the FSK, the USK doesn’t
actually do any censoring. But it is quite common for software companies
to pre-emptively censor their own games. German versions of World War 2 themed games regularly had any reference to Nazis removed — in one case, including Hitler’s moustache. It was only recently that
the USK released a statement explaining that no, Nazi symbols are fine in games: the question is whether or not
the gamepromotesNazism. And that is basically it. Fortunately, none of this
affects my YouTube channel, so I am completely free to say— Thanks for watching. If you’d like to
send me a postcard, here’s the address. And don’t forget to visit my website
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35 thoughts on “German movie and game ratings

  1. This is all about the sane way to come of age: It is the duty of parents to prevent underage teenagers to watch porn movies, and it is the duty of underage teenagers to watch them anyway.

  2. Its funny. There were two versions of the nee Wolfenstein Game: One german Version without any Nazi themes at all (its just "the regime" and no hitler or whatever) and an international "uncut" Version. I bought the international Version, not because im a Nazi or something, but because the "cutting" was so dann annoying

  3. Diese FSK ist so was von fragwürdig. Sex ist verpönt, dafür sind (Waffen-)Gewalt und extreme Sprüche (wie sexistisch und menschenverachtend) salonfähig. – Heinz

  4. Hey rewboss, I've been watching your channel since forever. It's my go-to source of information to send people to that are asking about german specifics, simply because you get it just oh so right. Laughed my arse off watching you imitating Germans singing their Christmas songs way back when.

    Just wanted to let you know. Love your work, thanks for everything! 🙂

  5. It sounds ludicrous to remove from computer game references about Nazi, but the television channels are constantly showing documentaries about the Nazi era and war times. I personally do not see the wisdom of doing this kind of censuring.

  6. I will never forgive Von Der Leyen for introducing these butt ugly new FSK and USK logos back in the late 2000's. If I buy physical media I always buy the import version, just to avoid this eyesore!

  7. A good example of self-censor-ship here is the game 'Command and Conquer: Generals'. The German version had first, one entire mission removed, because you actively were attacking civilians there to proceed wtih the mission, and other things that were changed there were: running suicide bomber people to remotely controlled rolling bombs, all regular soldiers were 'turned' to Cyborgs who were bleeding oil instead of blood, and two of the main factions were Renamed from 'America' to 'Western Alliance' and 'China' to 'Asian Pact' , to remove any real-world connections.

  8. And the rating can change over time, Starship Troopers had that, was in cinemas FSK16, came to shops as FSK18, later it changed to no FSK approval, so no selling allowed, and returned then to FSK18!
    I bought it, as it was illegal, some video rentals sold the austrian version under the desk at that time!

  9. there is a new rule about nazi symbolic in video games in germany
    afaik the latest wolfenstein game was released in germany with nazi symbolic and another verskon without it

  10. I wonder if the America series of "John Wick" are shown in Germany. Talk about no sex but tons of cold blooded murder!

  11. Some Like It Hot used to be FSK18, cracks me up every time. As does the fact that it's still FSK16. Don't see issues with that being an FSK12.

  12. As far as games are concerned, we should ditch this disgusting censorship system and just use PEGI, just like Austria and Switzerland.

  13. Jeah, the index is feared but also a promotion sometimes. I remember DOOM ; the first one in the 80s/90s was on the index; for this game it was like advertisment.
    Forbidden Fruit is the sweetest.

  14. When I was a young teen doing exchanges to Germany, many of the German students would save up a lot of money to buy certain games from the UK for them and their friends in Germany because of the censorship which was a normal thing apparently.

  15. the standards for indexing media also change .. for example, several songs by "Die Ärzte" were been on the Index in the 80s and 90s for their lyrics.. if you listen to them nowerdays, that seems almost comical!

  16. Well, USK stamps are just awful and I wonder why Germany won't switch to PEGI for video games, that would be both much easier for developers (something something common media market in the whole EU?) and game boxes would look nicer.

  17. At least the FSK actually watches the movie they are rating as well as the USK is actually playing the games they are rating.
    The ESRB in the US does not. They rate a game by watching a video of gameplay that the publisher cut together…
    That is not to say the FSK is perfect. "The evil dead" for example ended up on the index. I still can't for the live of me how that happened. The violence in the movie is so over the top, so fake and so tongue in cheek that even with 1980's sensibilities it should have been obvious that the movie is not harmful to minors. Yet it was only taken off the index in 2016.
    Edit: Actually I researched this again and found it to be not the best example. The movie ending up on the index was the BPjS's doing (Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Schriften) and had nothing to do with the FSK.
    After being taken off the Index in 2016 the movie was rated again and now received an FSK 16. Go figure…

  18. Looks, it's fine to celebrate your freedom, but to conclude the video with a swastika and saying every ethnic slur in the wikipedia article of lists of ethnic slurs is a bit much.

  19. The fist 2 Fallout Games (2D RPG) were censored in a bad way. In the international version there are children on the streets of every town, which could be hurt or killed by indirect fire or explosions. That was not without consequences: NPCs reacted extremly negative, if children were harmed as a result of the players actions. In the UK and German version there are no children, which had 2 contrary effects. First, it broke every quest to rescue children. The player can only find the childs belongings and report its death to its parents. So, in the censored version there are children dying in every playthrough. And second, the player can initiate fights in the middle of the street without fear of collateral damage. When I played these games the first time, i walzed through the towns with frontal attacks on every enemy, using rocket launchers, grenades and heavy machine guns. In the international version that's not possible without getting the label "child killer". Suddenly those peaceful dialogue options make kind of sense.

  20. Whenever American YouTubers complain that Germans are like flies on dogshit if so much as one non-factual word on Germany is uttered, I direct them to your channel. Germans will be calm if the facts are presented to them with due diligence and with little room for objection.

  21. Das mit dem Index ist so ne Sache

    In letzter Zeit sind viele Filme vom Index in den Einzelhandel gekommen, da sie nicht mehr auf dem Index stehen – viele davon mit nem FSK 16 Stempel, was die Frage aufwirft, warum der auf dem Index war ^^

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