In a move by the Norwegian Board of Film Classification (NBFC), all films that were previously banned from Norwegian cinemas, including many examples of mainstream feature films and erotica, were officially cleared from the archives and released for public viewing and purchase.
Some of the films banned by the NBFC in the past have included the French movie "Lune Froide (Cold Moon)" by Patrick Bouchitey, which depicts necrophilia, and Steven Segal's "On Deadly Ground."
The initial call to ban sexually and violently explicit films in Norway is rooted in the country's devote Lutheran belief system. Hard core pornography in print and video is still banned, however today's announcement indicates a major step toward unrestricted media access for the people of Norway.
According to the NBFC, several hundred banned films can now be shown in theaters and purchased in video stores. Many of those films were censored by the Government Film Control between the years of 1913 and 1955. However, many recent releases in all film genres, including adult, have also been made unavailable over the years.
The catalyst for change within the NBFC's censorship policy came in 1999 when the organization attempted to ban Nagisa Oshima's masterpiece: "In the Realm of the Senses." That decision was overturned by a complaint panel and a more widespread review of previously banned films was undertaken.
The original push to ban the Oshima film was because of its intimate depictions of sexual acts and sadomasochism, the NBFC said.
NBFC Director Tom Loland reported this week that 1,400 films have been censored over the past 80 years in Norway, with as many as 300 remaining under censorship until this week when the ban order was reversed.
"Many of these films were banned in different times," Loland said in a statement. "Historically there was an emphasis on moral criteria in censorship. Today professional criteria have become more important for the classifiers."
Loland added that he thinks the time has come for adapting film legislation in Norway that is more in keeping with a "media world" where film increasingly reaches viewers through different channels and mediums.