Y. gives 'Hero' the bum's rush

Published: Thursday, Nov. 11 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

PROVO — One award-winning film will not be receiving a hero's welcome at the Varsity theater at Brigham Young University.
"Hero," which received an Oscar nomination in 2003 for Best Foreign Language Film, was pulled last Friday from the school's International Cinema program following complaints about a questionable sex scene.
"It's rare to find a film that has absolutely nothing in it that nobody would take offense at," said Travis Anderson, the director of the International Cinema who brought the complaints to the attention of Van Gessel, dean of the College of Humanities.
"We have to choose films that in their entirety will pass muster," Anderson said. "That's just becoming increasingly difficult, especially at a school that's as conservative as BYU, that draws a student body from across the world with such divergent beliefs and values."
"Hero" is movie filmed in Mandarin and directed by Yimou Zhang, with English subtitles. The film takes place in ancient China and tells of a warrior who is trying to defend his people against a new emperor. The film has won many awards for its cinematography and visual art aspects.
Though the movie contains no nudity or graphic sexual scenes, background sounds in a 20-second portion of the film suggests sexual activity is occurring. Anderson said an Herbal Essence shampoo commercial is probably more graphic, but he didn't want to risk offending viewers.
The movie is rated PG-13 for martial arts violence and the suggestive scene.
"One issue at BYU that the administration is hypersensitive about is anything to do with sex or nudity," Anderson said.
The International Cinema is a program at the university that allows students and community members to see selected noteworthy foreign films for free. Films are selected based on their cultural merit and rotate on a weekly basis.
"We're proud of the program because it provides a lot of linguistic education," Gessel said. "We think it's a very valuable educational tool, but as the world changes, we have to be more cautious about the things we show at BYU. There are more of these judgment calls that have to be made all of the time."
Because of copyright laws, Gessel and Anderson said the BYU didn't have the option of editing the sound in that segment, so the whole film had to be scrapped.
Those attending will instead see the original Japanese version of "Shall We Dance" this week.
"It's really a fine film, so I think viewers will enjoy it every bit as much as they would 'Hero,' though we have heard from a lot of people who were disappointed that ('Hero') isn't coming," Anderson said.
One BYU sophomore, Jeremy Green, said he was disappointed that the movie was canceled because he had heard so many good things about it. His trip to see "Hero" would have been his first time at the International Cinema, but the change of plans didn't deter him from going anyway.
"I can understand what they were doing," Green said, "but I think it would have made a lot more people happy than mad for showing it."

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