Jaws was classified ‘A’, uncut, by the BBFC in 1975. This was the equivalent of ‘PG’ today, and was the subject of some debate at the BBFC at the time, as it was recognised that the work contained some intense and frightening ‘horror‘ moments. The BBFC considered that the film would have an enormous appeal to boys of 10 or 11 upwards, and it consulted child psychiatrists and showed the film to test audiences of children before deciding on the ‘A‘ category. Also, Jaws was one of the first films to be given content advice. Part of the terms of its classification was that a sign should be displayed in cinema foyers, saying ‘Parents are warned that this film contains sequences which may be particularly disturbing to younger unaccompanied children‘.
These factors were all taken into account when the work was classified as ‘PG’ on video in 1987, and it was acknowledged that the film was, by then, a well-known classic and that most parents would be alert to the film‘s content and its potential to disturb. In May 2012, the BBFC awarded Jaws a ‘12A’ for cinema release, reflecting the power that the film still has to frighten audiences.
Image credit: Zanuck-Brown/BFI