GoldenEye came before the BBFC in 1995, who viewed the film in a rough cut form. This is a common practice with filmmakers who are seeking a certain rating. They can submit their film (in an unfinished state) to the Board informally, who
will suggest cuts to the film so that the desired rating is more likely to be achieved when the final, formal submission is made. Like Licence to Kill before it, GoldenEye went down this route. These are the cuts originally made in 1995 to
the rough cut of the film.
During the pre-credits sequence in Russia, the original version had clear sight of Trevelyan being shot in the head by Orumov. Despite the fact that we later learn this death was fake, the BBFC felt it too strong in tone to be passed at the 12
level, and it was removed.
When Xenia and the Admiral have sex on the Manticore, the sequence was originally longer, with more footage of the lovers' shadows on the wall (an effect that took an awful lot of effort to set up and shoot, only to be reduced to a minimum in the
final cut). In particular, we saw more of the Admiral's pained shadow, and Xenia's squeezing was also longer. The BBFC also shortened Xenia's orgasm, with her cries of Yes! Yes! reduced to just two in the final edit, with one cry being lost
in the process.
After Xenia takes Bond to meet the mysterious Janus, the interior shot of the car was originally held in one, single take of one angle; Bond in the back seat, Xenia in the front. When Bond knocks Xenia out with a rabbit punch, this was clearly
visible due to the take being shot from one angle. However, the BBFC objected to this on grounds of imitability and an entire day's reshooting was undertaken in order to get a close-up of Bond delivering the rabbit punch just off-screen. Speaking
of the reshot version that was needed, director Martin Campbell said, Ironically, I think it's just as vicious off-screen as it is on, but that's censorship for you . Annoyingly, this edit remains in uncut international versions, despite
the fact the MPAA did not object to it. The filmmakers simply saw no need to create two versions of the scene, and thus left the censored version in the International cut of the film.
The MPAA also had some ideas for cuts
The MPAA also took umbrage at some of the film's content. The MPAA concurred that Orumov's shot to Trevelyan's head had to be removed for a
PG-13, and the reduced sex scene (sex always being a bone of contention for the MPAA) remained shortened.
The Severnaya hijack sequence was also cut to get a PG-13 rating, with numerous shots removed of the workers being gunned down by Xenia. Furthermore, Xenia's death was also toned down; originally her body was seen writhing against the tree for
longer, before her back breaks with a crack and she slumps dead. The slump, sans sound effect, is all that remains.
The final MPAA cut occurs when Trevelyan turns over after falling from the dish. The shot showing his bloodied face and a trickle of blood running oozing from his mouth had to be shortened as soon as he turns towards camera, as the MPAA objected
to the prolonged sight of blood on his mouth. A strange request indeed, especially given the large amount of blood that we see on Bond's shirt in Casino Royale - also a PG-13. Critics of the MPAA say a ratings slide has occured across the
years, and with instances such as this, one cannot help but agree.
The cuts listed so far established the International Version that was distributed in the USA, Europe and beyond.
UK Specific Cuts
The BBFC at the time had major issues with headbutts, ear claps and the like. These weren't a problem for the American release, and there simply was no need to do anything to spoil the thrilling final fight scene - surely a contender for one of
the best close-quarters fight scenes on film. So a batch of cuts were prepared specifically for the UK release.
The Man with the Golden Scissors
One of Bond's lesser known arch enemies, noted
for an unhealthy obsession about headbutts
Towards the end of the film, as Xenia attempts to crush Bond, her headbutt to Natalya was removed when the latter tried to free Bond. In fact, the entire episode of Natalya swinging a log at Xenia, Xenia grabbing it and telling Natalya to Wait
for your turn before headbutting her was removed.
When Trevelyan and Bond face-off towards the end of the film, the fight sequence between the two of them in the antennae room was cut considerably. All headbutts delivered by either assailant were removed, and the sound effects of the fight scene
were also reduced in volume. As the two struggle on the small platform below the antennae room after descending the ladder, some two instances of struggling/attempted headbutts from Trevelyan and one instance of the same from Bond were also
removed. Even though no contact is being made, and no impact sounds are heard, they are bizarrely cut. Additionally, Bond's final headbutt to Trevelyan was removed using alternate footage. A brief, overhead shot of Bond moving towards Alec was
used and the impact sound was also removed from the soundtrack. To the untrained eye, the final result is quite acceptable, whereby it is now no longer clear that Bond is headbutting anymore. Moreover, it appears like a struggle has taken place
and Bond has simply managed to overcome Trevelyan.
The resulting cut version was released for the UK cinema release and for subsequent VHS versions.
UK DVD and Special Edition DVD
For Goldeneye's DVD debut, the International version, without the UK specific cuts, was submitted, perhaps in the hope of less cuts. But the BBFC was having none of it, and asked for the same 13s of cuts from the cinema version to be re-applied
for the DVD.
For the special edition DVD, some non-violent footage was restored to the scene here Xenia attempts to crush Bond, but her actual headbutt to Natalya was still cut. The result was choppy and somewhat nonsensical; the cinema/VHS versions play
better with the elimination of all the above.
The final fight sequence was also edited differently, and an ear clap that had escaped the BBFC first time round was removed, along with the heavy knee to Trevelyan's head that directly follows (perhaps it was thought that it was two ear claps?).
The headbutts in this scene were also simply cut out, with no alternate footage used. Again, the results were less pleasing.
Ultimate Edition DVD
Sadly, it is not uncommon for cuts made at the rough cut stage to appease the BBFC to make their way into international editions. With GoldenEye, some of the BBFC rough cut edits made their way into international versions (as detailed above). It
is confusing, therefore, that the uncut Ultimate Edition DVD released in the UK is labelled as such. The uncut tag is a slight misnomer, as some of the original rough cut edits are still present very much present. The BBFC must have
their wires crossed somewhere, as as recently as July 2011 they claim that the restored footage includes (amongst others) the sequence in which Onatop squeezes the Admiral to death between her legs, giving the violence a sadistic and sexual
element . This sequence is identical to the edited special edition DVD and VHS versions.
Despite the, arguably, ridiculous nature of the BBFC cuts needed back in 1995, director Martin Campbell was positive overall about the cuts made to the film:
"I don't feel anywhere down the line that we really suffered because of the censor cuts. Given we got a '12' certificate in England and a 'PG-13' in America, I was very happy".
It is surprising that the Ultimate Edition of GoldenEye DVD ended up receiving a 15 rating as recently as 2006, especially when you compare the violence to the 12-rated Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace
All articles are original works compiled by Gavin Salkeld, with occasional
help from a small team of researchers. Particular thanks are due to the BBFC
for their diligent and helpful explanations of their interventions.