‘Mary Poppins’ Rating Changed in UK Due to ‘Discriminatory Language’
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film ‘Mary Poppins’ Rating Changed in UK Due to ‘Discriminatory Language’

‘Mary Poppins’ Rating Changed in UK Due to ‘Discriminatory Language’

‘Mary Poppins’ Rating Changed in UK Due to ‘Discriminatory Language’

It’ll take more than a spoonful of sugar for the “discriminatory language” of 1964’s “Mary Poppins” to be overlooked by the UK’s movie-rating system.

The classic film, which stars Julie Andrews as the titular nanny, has officially been reclassified from a “U” (universal) rating to “PG” (parental guidance) by the British Board of Film Classification. BBC first reported the rating switch.

The reason for the stricter rating more than 50 years later? The Oscar-winning musical includes a “derogatory term originally used by white Europeans about nomadic peoples in southern Africa” in reference to “soot-faced chimney-sweeps,” per the BBC. The term, which historically referenced the the Khoikhoi and San people, is used twice by Admiral Boom (Reginald Owen). Usage of the word is considered offensive today.

Due to its inclusion, the BBFC noted the film “exceeds our guidelines” for a U rating.

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“Most recently, the film was resubmitted to us in February 2024 for another theatrical re-release, and we reclassified it PG for discriminatory language,” a BBFC spokesperson told the BBC. “While ‘Mary Poppins‘ has a historical context, the use of discriminatory language is not condemned, and ultimately exceeds our guidelines for acceptable language at U. We therefore classified the film PG for discriminatory language.”

The reasoning included the “potential to expose children to discriminatory language or behavior which they may find distressing or repeat without realizing the potential offense”.

The BBFC originally classified the film in 1964 as U. It revisited — and reinstated — the rating in 2013 for a re-release. A U rating states that a film is suitable for children four years and over; PG is for kids eight and older.

The original “Mary Poppins” is rated G by the MPA (Motion Picture Association, fka MPAA) in the U.S. Its long-awaited sequel in 2018 is rated PG. IndieWire reached out to the MPA to ask if it is also considering a reevaluation of the ’60s film’s rating, but we did not immediately receive a response.

Emily Blunt is the present-day Mary Poppins. Lin-Manuel Miranda played Bert the chimney sweep, originally portrayed by Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 film.

The original “Mary Poppins” isn’t the only film being scrutinized by the UK ratings system: Yorgos Lanthimos’ Oscar-nominated “Poor Things” was recut to land a certified 18 rating by the BBFC. The modified scene included a brothel sequence in which Bella Baxter (Emma Stone) teaches two young boys how to have sex as they watch her and their father consummate.

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