"Schindler's List" has starkness, nudity and violence. Brigham Young University officials weren't allowed to edit that out, so they will not let it be shown at the campus theater.
School officials said Wednesday the decision was based solely on a longstanding policy not to show R-rated films at the Varsity Theater in the school's student union building."We assumed from the beginning that we would be able to edit it, that we would be able to present the heart of it without the starkness, the nudity or the violence," said BYU spokesman Brent Harker. "It turns out we were wrong.
"We are not protesting the film," Harker stressed. "We simply could not work out the editing difficulties."
Producer-director Steven Spielberg and executive producer Gerald Molen insist that the story of a businessman who saved his Jewish workers from Nazi death camps be shown untouched.
The Oscar-winning film deemed too offensive for BYU students is required viewing by 15-year-olds in Germany.
"I knew there would be questions," said Molen, himself a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "I know the church, and I don't disagree with the church and how it feels about R-rated films.
"But this film is an exception. It needs to be seen in its entirety," he said.
Harker said the school's editing committee, a five-member panel that previews movies to determine their suitability, found brief scenes of sex and nudity offensive and gratuitous.
The committee, however, assumed it would be OK to delete those scenes, obtain a toned-down "airline" version of the three-hour-plus movie. Molen and others at Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment, however, said cuts were out of the question and that no abbreviated version was made.
Molen said every second of the film is needed to understand the terrible depravity of the Holocaust and Schindler's dramatic transformation.
Schindler, an industrialist and entrepreneur, aligned himself with the Nazis and made millions exploiting cheap Jewish labor during the early years of the war. He later spent his fortune and risked his life bribing and deceiving the Nazis in order to spare the lives of 1,100 Jews whom he employed at a factory making useless munitions.
"It is so easy to just say that Oskar Schindler was an adulterer, or that people were randomly murdered in the Holocaust," Molen said. "But to show it sears the brain."
Molen said Holocaust survivors have told him they didn't think the film went far enough. Indeed, 40 minutes of film were left on the cutting-room floor because they were deemed too graphic, he said.
Still, Molen, who has relatives at BYU and has twice lectured there, said it wasn't his place to second-guess the school's decision. But he thinks concerns about preserving someone else's morals can be misplaced.
"It is never petty to debate these points," Molen said. "But maybe it gets petty when you complain that you had to sit through 32 seconds of nudity in order to realize the full impact of this story."
Harker said the editing committee apparently didn't spend much time debating the issue. Once they learned it was R-rated and could not be cut, it recommended the film be rejected. The school's ruling Presidents Council affirmed the decision Monday.
"We're not vacillating about the policy," he said. "Without getting into the film and its importance or its value as art, the fact is that a substantial portion of our clientele would be upset."