Sunday, December 27, 2009

Napalm Death 'Breed to Breathe' clip is illegal in Germany

Question: Hello,

I recently bought the limited double disc edition of Napalm Death's "Utopia Banished" with the "The DVD" as bonus disc. Is the DVD censored? I can't find the "Breed to Breathe" promo video on the dvd neither in the menu or on the disc. From:

Answer: You cannot find the video clip Breed To Breathe by Napalm Death onsale in Germany because the authorities in that country told us its illegal to sell it or even display it. Thats why the clip is removed on the DVD edition you purchased, sorry.(maybe it mentions the clip on the packaging? if so it is a mistake.)

The band and the director made this clip is 1997 and if you know Napalm Death's music, they are definately not a gore-type band or a Cannibal Corpse type death/horror metal band, many of their songs have a social or political meaning. The title and lyrics deal with subject of life and death, so the director of the clip made many references to birth, as you can see in the conception footage used throughout the clip. He also highlighted death too, and the clip shows many examples of sudden death and violence.

To protect the youth of Germany from extreme images, which might cause psychological harm to children, all movies/ DVDs and I think also video games have an age rating system called FSK. A panel of experts sit and actually view the game or DVD, its mostly movies but also Music DVDs, and decide an age rating.The record label is informed of the FSK rating decision, which is final and must be displayed on the packaging, its usually 12, 16 or rarely, 18 if its adult themes.

Every DVD Earache has ever released has been through this process, its pretty routine, and most often our DVDs will come back with a 16 rating. In the case of the Napalm Death DVD, which contains about 6 of the bands video clips and tons of live footage, they contacted us to tell us the news that having watched the many clips on the DVD, they were very disturbed by the extremely graphic scenes in Breed To Breathe. They were actually so shocked - by scenes of burnt bodies in a car, and a guy jumping from a multi-storey building - they decided to refer the clip to a higher court to see if it was actually illegal material.

We were shocked too by the news.To be honest, we had actually forgotten how extreme the parts of the clip actually are, I can only guess that the director had access to some very gruesome footage, and had decided to include it.

In 1997, you have to remember the clip was made before any kind of streaming video was common on the internet, Youtube wasn't even launched until about 6 years later, so it was made with a very small, in fact, tiny viewership in mind.

The ability of DVDs and Youtube to distribute such clips in the last decade has meant many more people can finally see them.

The higher court ruled that the material is actually so gruesome, and graphic, it is akin to "snuff" parts, so was ruled actually illegal. The 18 rating would not be enough. We were asked to remove the offending scenes and the rest of the clip is actually OK, but we refused as it would compromise the integrity of the original video idea. It was easier all round to remove the song itself from the disk.

See what all the fuss was about for yourself:
Napalm Death - Breed To Breathe 1997.

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