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Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sex and violence

Spanish cinemas tend to have shows at around 6, 8 and 10 in the evening. At the weekends, and on Monday or sometimes Wednesdays, which are "el día del espectador" - spectator's day, when tickets are cheaper - there is often an earlier showing around 4 and a late show at midnight. As you may expect the most popular show times are at 8 o' clock and 10 o' clock. Actually I've never been to a midnight show so I could be wrong.

We tend to go to the early midweek shows, to the less than blockbuster films and to one of the second tier and less popular cinemas. It's not at all unusual for us to get the theatre to ourselves. Not always of course, If we choose Tom Cruise even at 4pm there may be a handful of us but we've just seen The Limehouse Golem for instance and we were alone.

Last Wednesday we were in Elche at a shopping centre cinema that doesn't show many of the French or Latvian films so popular in our regular cinema. We chose to see "It", a horror film that was the best selling cinema film of the week in Spain having knocked Tadeo Jones off the top spot. Tadeo Jones 2: El secreto del Rey Midas is an animated kid's film featuring a slightly nerdy Spanish version of Indiana Jones. For the past few weeks we've often had to negotiate hordes of children heading to see Tadeo do battle with the baddies. I've thought, more than once, how fortunate we are not to be in the same cinema as those children. Spaniards in general and children in particular are pretty talkative and quite loud. I like a cinema to be quiet apart from the sound coming from the film.

When we got to the box office, actually the popcorn counter, the woman told us the cinema was pretty full - either odd seats at the side or the first two rows. We chose the second row. Someone was in our seat but we didn't bother. The cinema was loaded with little girls. I thought they looked about 9 years old though Maggie tells me they were seasoned 12 year olds. It's the first time I've been in a cinema so loaded with children since I went to see Indiana Jones, the first one, in 1981. I remember thinking then that they added something to the film - hissing at the baddies and cheering the goodies - so I wasn't too concerned at the idea of seeing a horror film alongside phone toting, popcorn munching children. The children were OK really, the film was rubbish though.

I was a bit taken aback that there were so many obviously under 18s. To be honest I'd presumed that the film would have an 18 certificate. In fact "It" has a 16 certificate. I've just checked and it's more or less the same in the UK where it has a 15 certificate. I was surprised to find though that the Spanish certificates are just recommendations, orientation for the viewers, and they have no "legal" status at all. I well remember the arguments between anguished youngsters and the staff at cinemas in the UK as to whether they were old enough to see a 12 rated Batman film. It seems that, apart from going to see an X rated film, and it looks as though only three cinemas still exist in Spain to show X rated films, anyone of any age can go to see any film they like. So there's no reason to get a babysitter if you fancy taking your children with you to see a blood and gore 18 film. Well there is actually, there aren't any to see. Fifty Shades of Grey was the last film on general release in Spain to get an 18 classification and before that it was 300, the film about the Spartan stand at Thermopylae.

I thought it was interesting that when I went looking for an explanation on the Internet of the purpose of the certificates there were several discussions about the use of ratings, like the ones in the UK and the USA, that have a legal status. There was absolutely no support for them in any of the discussions.

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