In a season when Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers and Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction earn R ratings, why did Hollywood’s ratings police choose to slap an NC-17 on a 25-year-old classic? The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave the dread rating to Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 Western The Wild Bunch, which Warner Bros. had submitted for a director’s-cut rerelease, citing the violence as a reason for its decision (ironically, this same cut is the version now available on video).
The ruling has angered filmmakers. ”I never thought there would be a film with an R in 1969 but rerated NC-17 25 years later,” says Martin Scorsese. ”The Wild Bunch is not for everyone, but you can’t deny it’s a great work of art.” Stone agrees: ”[It’s] a benchmark — and should be seen in its full glory.”
There’s speculation that the studio might ignore the MPAA and release the film with its original rating — thus inviting a showdown. ”Warner has to decide whether to accept (the ruling),” says an MPAA spokesperson. ”They have not appealed it.”