Quentin Tarantino's latest movie Inglorious Basterds is among the first batch of films coming under Thailand's new motion-picture ratings system, which has finally been approved and is lurching forward.
Basterds, a violent World War II action comedy is rated 18+. In the U.S., it's rated R (for viewers 17 and older) and 18 in the U.K. In Thailand, 18+ is an advisory rating that suggests viewers should be 18 or older to see the movie. In practice, I doubt the rating will keep schoolkids or parents with babes in arms from going to see Brad Pitt talk like a hick and scalp Nazis.
According to The Nation/Daily Xpress, other films already rated are Hayao Miyazaki's latest animated feature Ponyo, approved for general audiences; the South Korean romance The Naked Kitchen given the 15+ stamp; and the 2007 senior-citizens rockumentary Young @ Heart being promoted as educational viewing that everyone must see.
The Daily Xpress doesn't mention any Thai films being rated yet. The Thai release this week is Yuthlert Sippapak's comedy horror Buppha Rahtree 3.2: Rahtree's Revenge. Next week it's another horror film, Fan Kao (My Ex) from RS Films/Avant. There's also Phobia 2 from GTH and Slice from Five Star.
Either one of those will help Thai directors gauge how gory or violent their films can be and still be shown to the widest audience possible. In the U.S., the PG-13 rating has become the lowest common denominator that studios shoot for, so in Thailand it might be the 13+ rating.
But since the age classifications are advisory only from 13+ to 18+ (it's just 20+ that is a restriction, with required I.D. checks), will they really make any difference on how a film is released and promoted? If there is no real teeth in the ratings law, the box office and the international marketplace for genre films will still dictate how Thai horror and action films are made and how gory, violent or explicit they are.
It's early days yet for the ratings system, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions about how it's supposed to work.
For one thing, the ratings symbols still haven't been approved. That chart I was given awhile back is a draft copy. So for now, the ratings system will be just lines of text. Will anyone pay attention?