A film rating is the standardized evaluation of a film by a censorship authority or film evaluation body . Films that receive a rating enjoy tax advantages when they are used in theaters. The award of film awards is a political measure to improve the quality of film production.
Film ratings in the Weimar Republic
In the Weimar Republic there were two institutions that dealt with the examination of films. The film inspection agency carried out film censorship according to police criteria. This was followed (only on request) by an examination based on artistic aspects, which, depending on the location of the production company, was carried out either in the Prussian picture office at the Central Institute for Education and Teaching in Berlin or in the Bayerische Lichtspielstelle in Munich. This test was regulated in the provisions of the Reichsrat on entertainment tax of June 12, 1926.
The following distinctions could be awarded:
- popular education
- Educational film
The political goal of film rating was to raise the level of film production. For the film producers, the incentive to seek a rating was that rated films were exempt from the entertainment tax either entirely (rating “artistic”) or partially (rating “people-educating”) when they were released in theaters.
Film ratings at the time of National Socialism
On June 7, 1933, a new amusement tax law introduced the terms “politically valuable”, “particularly valuable” (only for feature films) and “culturally valuable”.
With the Film Act of February 16, 1934 and the subsequent implementing ordinances, the film rating was re-regulated. Responsibility for the award of film awards was transferred to the film testing agency, which until then had been a pure censorship authority. The examination did not require a separate application from the production companies, but was part of the normal censorship process.
Those from 1926 and 1933 were adopted as ratings:
- politically valuable
- particularly valuable (only for feature films)
- culturally valuable
- popular education
- Educational film
The top rating “particularly valuable” was the only film rating that resulted in a complete exemption from the entertainment tax. The predicate “politically valuable” was intended for official and party official propaganda films ; H. for films produced by the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda or by the Reich leadership of the NSDAP . Films that promised to enrich the knowledge of the audience “in an impeccable manner” were rated as “educating the people”. All of these ratings brought about a reduction in the amusement tax. Films that appeared to be suitable for use in the classroom were classified as “educational films”. The examination of films for their suitability for use in the classroom did not bring any tax benefits and was only carried out on request.
Already on November 5, 1934, the rating was re-regulated by a further implementing regulation. Now it was possible to award “state-politically and artistically particularly valuable” as a new rating (in addition, “artistic” became “artistically valuable” and “particularly valuable” was abolished).
The predicate “politically and artistically particularly valuable” was only given to films that, in the opinion of the examiner, embodied National Socialist ideas in an artistically perfect form. The title “artistically valuable” was reserved for those films whose aesthetic quality stood out above mere acting. The predicate "culturally valuable" should mark a "cultural value for the experience of German people comrades ". With the " Anschluss " of Austria in 1938 and the immediate incorporation of Austrian film organizations, the National Socialist film rating was also applied in what was now the "Ostmark".
On November 21, 1938, the predicate “youth value” was introduced and from April 1, 1939 the new predicates “particularly valuable in terms of state policy”, “particularly valuable artistically” and “valuable to the people”.
The predicate “artistically particularly valuable” was intended to create the possibility of awarding top honors - and tax exemption - to films that were artistically outstanding but did not have any particular state-political content. Films were given the title “popularly valuable” if they appeared particularly worthy of funding because of their popular and contemporary content and their lively design. The predicate “youth value” was to be given to films that seemed particularly suitable for use in film events of the Reich Youth Leadership; This rating did not result in tax advantages (see also the article youth film ).
Beyond the regulation of the Film Act , the award of the special title “ Film der Nation ”, which was awarded from 1941 by the Reich Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels , together with the Ring of Honor for German Film , went beyond the scope of the Film Act .
For the last time, the number of ratings was expanded with an implementation ordinance of September 1, 1942, this time with the rating “worthy of recognition”. This rating was created because the previous rating catalog was apparently insufficient to award all films that one wanted to award. Above all, this concerned particularly successful entertainment films, which on the one hand had neither high artistic standards nor a political message, but which on the other hand would not have been labeled “popularly valuable”.
Approx. 30% of all films made during the National Socialist era received a rating.
Film ratings in the Federal Republic of Germany
After the end of the war, from 1946 onwards, state-owned film rating offices were set up in the later federal states. On August 20, 1951, it was replaced by the central film evaluation office in Wiesbaden - since 2009 German film and media evaluation .
The following distinctions are awarded:
- "Particularly valuable"
The evaluation of a film by the German Film and Media Evaluation is voluntary, but subject to application and fees. The independent jury can also decide against awarding a rating.
Film ratings in Austria
In 1962 the "Joint Film Rating Commission of the Austrian Federal States" (GFPK) was founded. This is part of the professional association of the film and music industry and decides whether films shown in Austria receive the rating “particularly valuable”, “valuable”, “worth seeing” or none. This is combined with tax reductions for the cinemas showing such films.