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Italy says bring the kids to `Apocalypto'

January 05, 2007|Maria Sanminiatelli | Associated Press

ROME — The blood and gore in Mel Gibson's latest epic "Apocalypto" are suitable fare for children, Italy's cinema review board has ruled, bucking a trend to impose age limits on the movie across Europe and prompting a consumer group Thursday to say it would appeal the decision in court.

"The film is probably very beautiful and well done," Carlo Rienzi, president of the Codacons consumer group, said in a statement. "However, minors must be protected more than the economic interests of film production companies."

Rienzi added that the consumer group was not advocating censorship but would seek court action to have children younger than 14 banned from seeing "Apocalypto."

"Apocalypto" -- produced, directed and co-written by Gibson for Disney -- depicts a Mayan kingdom during its decline and is filled with gruesome slayings and human sacrifices. It is scheduled for release in Italy today.

"Apocalypto" opened in the United States last month with an R rating, which allows those younger than 18 to view it if accompanied by an adult. It earned a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign-language film.

Most European countries that have rated the movie set minimum age limits for viewers to 12 in France to 18 in Hungary, Germany, Poland and Britain. Some, including Belgium, Finland, Sweden and Denmark have yet to release it.

"Families must not be left [to decide] alone" about children viewing "Apocalypto," Family Policy Minister Rosy Bindi was quoted as saying by the ANSA agency.

Adriana Medici, secretary for the Italian review board that rated "Apocalypto," said the panel, usually consisting of parents, industry experts and a psychologist, decided Dec. 19 to allow people of any age to see it. In Italy, age limits can be set for those under 14 or under 18.

"It's a work of art. It's a beautiful movie that tells the story without hiding anything. Wars are a part of life," said Gian Paolo Cugno, an Italian director who was among the board members who voted in favor of not giving the movie an age limit.

"We are used to being subjected to images like the hanging of Saddam Hussein in all the newspapers," Cugno said. "I don't see what the scandal is just because we see a bit of blood."

Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli urged the film distributor in Italy, Eagle, to ask cinemas to discourage unaccompanied minors from going to see the movie, the ANSA and Apcom agencies reported.

Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" was also controversial for scenes of graphic violence.

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