The nine seconds cut from Tenet in the UK

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Tenet lost nine seconds to get a 12A certificate in the UK, and it’s now become clear just what was slice out of the film in Britain.

Mild spoilers for Tenet lie ahead.

Playing in cinemas in the UK now – as well as many countries around the world – is Christopher Nolan’s eagerly-awaited movie, Tenet. It’s already proving divisive, and it’s already getting bums on seats.

It was revealed in the week leading up to the film’s release that the movie had been slightly trimmed in the UK in order to get a 12A certificate. That Warner Bros had submitted the movie for guidance to the British Board Of Film Classification, and was advised that in the state it was at that stage, the film would have been awarded a 15 certificate.

That goes against the law of blockbuster releases in the UK of course, and understandably the studio wanted a broader 12A certificate, to maximise its commercial possibilities on the big screen.

As such, the BBFC advised Warner Bros – but didn’t insist – that the studio would need to lose around nine seconds of the film to qualify for a 12A. Warner Bros and Christopher Nolan duly snipped those out, and thus the cut we get in Britain.

However, what’s clear is that those nine seconds are present in the European cuts of the film that are playing, and thus we know what’s been removed.

The BBFC had already declared that “This film was originally seen for advice. The company was advised it was likely to be classified 15 uncut but that their preferred 12A classification could be obtained by making small changes to one scene to remove shots of a man kicking a woman. When the film was submitted for formal classification, the shots in question had been removed and the film was classified 12A”.

Chatting to journalist Anne Billson, who saw the European cut of the movie, she clarified things further when we compared notes. I’d thought it was the scene where Kenneth Branagh prepares his belt, with the strong implication that he’s going to beat Elizabeth Debicki’s character with it. I’d assumed the nine seconds followed the moment where the movie suddenly cuts away.

In fact, it’s not quite that. In the European cut, Branagh doesn’t hit her with the belt. But, instead, there’s another moment where Debicki’s character is on the floor and Branagh’s kicks her in the body several times. That’s the moment we’re not seeing in the UK release, and what was excised to get a 12A.

You can find the BBFC’s page on the matter, here.


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