Australian Council on Children and the Media

Amazing Grace

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Not recommended for children under the 12 years due to disturbing themes and scenes. Parental guidance recommended for children over the age of 12 years.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Amazing Grace
  • a review of Amazing Grace completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 July 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 This movie is not recommended for children under the age of twelve years for whom the contents of this movie would be disturbing and frightening.
Children over 12 Parental guidance recommended for children over 12 due to disturbing themes and scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Amazing Grace
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes
Length 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Amazing Grace is a powerful period piece, set in a time when the British Empire held powerful influence on the world’s political stage.  In a time when social change was discouraged and the slave trade affluent and politically powerful, there is one man who has the courage to take on the battle of becoming an antislavery pioneer. 
Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) is only 21 years when he takes on the noble task of leading the cause for the abolition of slavery.  Encouraged by his good friend William Pitt (Benedict Cumberbatch), who has been elected as England’s youngest Prime Minister, Wilberforce is elected into the House of Commons and henceforth commences his 20 year battle to fight the anti-slave cause.
Throughout his crusade, Wilberforce questions his career as political activist and considers a life of spirituality.  However with the support of a small group of mismatched but passionate individuals, Wilberforce is encouraged to use his political influence to do God’s work through the political arena.
Wilberforce’s fight for the abolition of the Slave Trade is a long and arduous one, and a struggle that takes its toll on his emotional and physical health.  Just when Wilberforce is about to give up on his life-long passion, he finds love and with it a resurgence of energy to continue his battle.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Slavery, racism, torture

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • a disturbing scene that depicts physical abuse and cruelty by two men towards a horse that is seen to be distressed and hurt.
  • numerous references to, and themes of, torture, abuse and cruelty towards men, women and children bought by slave traders
  • one of the characters has a dream which depicts a child being burnt to death

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes and themes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • the movie has a constant theme of slave abuse and torture, with some realistic scenes of this abuse. 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to to scared or disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to to scared or disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children over 13 may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned themes and scenes.

Product placement

None

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • there is one scene that shows two adults kissing

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Adult gatherings where drinking and consequent raucous, aggressive behaviour is evident
  • Two of the main characters are seen sharing a liquor bottle containing an alcoholic substance

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bloody

In a nutshell

Amazing Grace is a powerful movie made around the important and historically significant event of the abolition of slavery.  Despite its inspiring message, this movie contains a number of images and themes that may be distressing for many children particularly those within the younger age groups.   For older children, this will be a movie that highlights many important messages about the power of one individual to make a change in the world for the better.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • Anti-slavery, anti-racism and equality
  • Power of the individual to create change

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Being true to your beliefs and standing up for what you believe in
  • Independence and strength
  • Creating societal change

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as the effects of political power and class systems on the lives of the powerless.

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