Today The Christian Science Monitor introduces a new version of ``Freeze Frames.'' This feature, which for the past several years has been a place to note movie releases, will now become a more-extensive movie guide.
Longtime Monitor readers may note, rightly, that this movie guide looks a lot like other guides that have run in the Monitor. But this one has some important differences.
* It uses the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings: G, for all ages; PG, parental guidance recommended; PG-13, parents strongly cautioned (film may not be suitable for children under 13); R, for restricted (no one under 17 admitted without parent or guardian); and NC-17, films that contain so-called adult content and to which no one under 17 is admitted.
* It contains two evaluations for most films: one from David Sterritt, the Monitor's film critic; and one from a panel of Monitor staff members who have viewed the film. As shown below, Mr. Sterritt's evaluation is given in blue stars; the panel's is given in orange circles. The evaluations run as follows: four stars or circles, excellent; three, good; two, fair; one, poor. Some films will carry the evaluation ``Don't bother''; indicating that reviewers feel the movie would be a waste of time and money.
Occasionally, a film will carry only one evaluation. This means that, because of time constraints or the timing of a film's release, either Sterritt or the panel was not able to evaluate the film before press time.
* Each film will also be coded by the Monitor to reflect aspects of the film that may concern or annoy some viewers. ``P'' indicates a film contains profanity; ``N'' indicates some nudity; ``S'' indicates sexual situations; and ``V'' indicates violence. When a film contains extreme amounts of such content, this will be noted in the text.
The movie guide will run weekly on Fridays and be up- dated to reflect the turnover in films. Like Monitor movie reviews, the movie guide is not an endorsement or recommendation. It provides information that allows the reader to make up his or her mind about whether to see a film - or take children to see a film. Sometimes it performs the task of warning readers about the content of certain films.
In his book ``Commitment to Freedom: The Story of The Christian Science Monitor'' (Houghton Mifflin, 1958), then-Editor Erwin Canham explained the Monitor's policy in regard to reviews of all kinds of cultural works when he wrote about book reviews: ``...when a novel is attracting wide public notice, and when it has unquestioned literary merit, the Monitor considers it a duty to notify and warn readers of its objectionable content, while striving to identify and explain the author's artistic achievement. Thus its fiction reviewing is on the restrained side. The paper's reviewers try to apply basic moral standards. They make the effort to understand the writer's moral standards. The Monitor does cover the significant elements of contemporary letters. Sometimes the paper's tolerance for an author's intent far outruns that of its readers.''
We believe the new, expanded ``Freeze Frames'' will provide an important reader service. We look forward to receiving your comments.