Movie Ratings In Germany

Last week, I went to see the remake of RoboCop.   The movie itself wasn’t bad, as remakes go, and I think it was a pretty fun flick.  That’s not what this post is about.

After the movie, I had a discussion with a bunch of people about the movie, and one of them asked about the rating-  apparently some of my friends hold the viewpoint that RoboCop with a PG-13 rating instead of 1987’s R rating just isn’t acceptable.  Never mind that the things you can do with a PG-13 in 2014 would make an R from 1987 toss its cookies.  That’s not what this post is about either.

The exact question posed was, “Was the rating over there the same as here?”  This, I immediately realized, would be an excellent topic for a blog post.

In the US, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been giving films those familiar ratings since 1968: G, PG, PG-13, R, and NC-17.   In Germany, there’s a similar organization, the Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft, or FSK.  The FSK classifies films under the following categories for both movie theaters and television broadcast:

FSK_ab_0FSK_ab_6FSK_ab_12FSK_ab_16FSK_ab_18

  • Ohne Altersbeschränkung (FSK 0): This means no age restriction.  This is pretty much the same as a G rating in the US.
  • Freigegeben ab 6 Jahren (FSK 6): No children younger than 6 years admitted.   This is similar to the PG rating in the US.
  • Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren (FSK 12): Children 12 or older admitted, and children between 6 and 11 only when accompanied by parent or a legal guardian.   Films in this category can generally be broadcast on TV all day. This is similar to our PG-13 rating.
  • Freigegeben ab 16 Jahren (FSK 16): Children 16 or older admitted, and nobody under this age is admitted.  This rating can be broadcast on TV only after 10 PM unless approved by special permit or re-edited to secure an FSK12 rating.  This is similar to our R rating.
  • Keine Jugendfreigabe (FSK 18): “No youth admitted”, only adults.  This is the local equivalent of the NC-17 rating in the US.   Movies with this rating can be broadcast on TV after 11 PM. However, nudity isn’t all that unusual on broadcast television here, especially later at night.

All the above ratings also contain the phrase “gemäß §14 JuSchG” (in accordance with §14 of the Youth Protection Law), which means that they are legally binding.  This differs wildly from the MPAA’s ratings, which are merely recommendations and are not actually legally binding.

Oh, and RoboCop has an FSK12 rating here, in case you were curious.

If you were a movie, what would your rating be?

4 thoughts on “Movie Ratings In Germany

  1. Amelie

    Since you mentioned that nudity is not that unusual on German TV, I wonder what would warrant the FSK 18 rating. In the US, the equivalent is usually granted for “strong sexual themes” or something like that, but in many cases, the movie has a sound story and plot, character development, etc, just sex happens to be something that happens in the movie. (aka it’s not porn :P) However, many movies with beheadings, rape, and drug use squeak by with an R rating. Is it similar in Germany?

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    1. DJ

      An 18+ rating is almost always associated with excessively violent rather than sexual content, which isn’t considered to be as big of a deal here. To give just one example: the uncut, unrated version of American Pie was rated FSK 12 in Germany. The reverse is true as well: it’s not uncommon for movies with a PG-13 rating to get a FSK 16 or even FSK 18 rating in Germany if they contain a considerable amount of violence.

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  2. We have to deal with age ratings a lot in our job. We have a special european age rating system but Germany has it’s own one because it’s even more special. It’s really interesting what pushes things up an age rating, and what developers do to bring it down. An attack is ok for children, for example, when there is no apparent pain and the attack is accompanied by a comic sound, like “boink!”

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