“Logan” Director On PG-Rated Violence

Filmmaker James Mangold has made headlines of late not just for his films, but his opinions on a variety of topics – most notably his recent railing against the use of post-credits sequences.

Speaking with The Credits this week, Mangold revealed he also has a strong opinion about on-screen violence, or more specifically the lack of showing its consequences in lighter rated films such as PG and PG-13 blockbusters:

“I have a lot of misgivings about violence and PG ratings. A PG film might show hundreds of people dying, falling off buildings, getting mowed down by rapid-fire guns, but you don’t feel the deaths because the ratings system dictates the amount of agony being played by the actor.

In a weird way, that makes violence more palatable because when we excise the upsetting bits, we de-sensitize ourselves to death to the point where it’s almost like shooting ducks at a carnival.”

It’s quite true. Violence in PG and PG-13 rated films is either cartoonish or surprisingly bloodless, thus often failing to show the true horror and impact of it. Mangold goes on to explain the R-rating of “Logan” was essential not just to show more blood on screen, but to offer a more realistic and adult approach to it and thus have it inform the character:

“We wrote a movie about a character struggling with the PTSD from three lifetimes of mayhem and violence, so it was important to feel the toll all that bloodshed has taken on Logan’s soul. This movie could not legally be marketed to children, which means there’s no Happy Meals, no action figures, no advertising on Saturday morning cartoons.

I don’t have to worry about the attention span of a 12-year old. I don’t have keep the story ‘up-cut’ to keep kids engaged. I only have to think about pleasing grown-ups. From writing onward through the directing, I had the freedom to make a more sophisticated movie.”

Was it a more sophisticated movie? The Oscar voters certainly agree enough to give his film a screenplay nomination. The awards themselves are handed out on March 4th.