From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The film was nearly assigned an NC-17 rating by the MPAA; this was again because of the nudity, overt sexuality and graphic violence. One scene in particular was cited as the reason for the rating. At one point in the film, Sharon Stone's character is interrogated by a panel of police officers, all of them male. During the scene, Stone uncrosses and then re-crosses her legs. The camera angle allowed the audience to briefly get a glimpse up Stone's skirt, showing that she was not wearing any underwear. The lighting setup allowed the audience to get a reasonably clear view of Stone's genitalia.
The movie was eventually edited to receive an "R" rating for its U.S. release with other sex scenes in the film also edited to reduce the level of explicitness. In the end, 42 seconds were cut to earn the film its R rating. The unedited version was released in the rest of the world. Years later, the "Unrated" edition of the film was released in VHS and Laserdisc, then later on DVD in the U.S., with the removed images restored. Stone complained during an interview for Playboy Magazine that American censorship was more complacent about violent content than sexual content, a common criticism towards the MPAA. Controversy followed in many other countries also, the uncut version was not released theatrically in Australia, having to be heavily trimmed. The uncut version was released on VHS in 1993. Despite this, in South Africa, this was the direct opposite reaction, the uncut version partly led to the total relaxation of censorship in that country — a complete turn-around in its existing censorship law. In the UK the BBFC have always been more relaxed towards sexual content and the unrated cut was released as an 18 in UK cinemas in 1993.