Australian Council on Children and the Media

Australia

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Short takes

Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Violence, disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Australia
  • a review of Australia completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 November 2008.

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: Australia
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence and coarse language
Length 165 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The story takes place in 1939, set against the background of World War 11, and is partly told through the eyes of a young so-called ‘half-caste’ Aboriginal boy, Nullah (Brandon Walters).  At this time Aboriginal people and women weren’t allowed to be served in the front bar of a pub and Aboriginal children with white fathers were being taken from their mothers by bureaucrats who had decided that the Church could do a better job of bringing them up. 
Nullah’s father, Neil Fletcher (David Wenham), a cunning and underhand man, is employed by Lord Ashley to manage his cattle station of Faraway Downs, in the Northern Territory. When word of the impending collapse of the station reaches Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) back in England, she decides to make the long journey to the distant land of Australia to discover what her husband is up to. Many surprises await her on her arrival, not the least of which is the death of her husband. She soon learns the truth about events at the station from young Nullah. Fletcher has been stealing her husband’s cattle and passing them on to the largest cattle station in the land, owned by Mr. Carney (Brian Brown).
Sarah also finds she has to place her trust in the drover (Hugh Jackman), whom she at first detests, to help her drive the cattle to Darwin. With the help of a small crew including Kipling Flynn (Jack Thompson), an old drunk, they drive the cattle through inhospitable country to try and beat Carney to the post. On the way, Sarah and the drover fall in love, but there is a long and difficult journey ahead of them.

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.

Racism; war

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:

  • Lord Ashley is speared and falls dead into water above Nullah who is hiding there from the authorities.
  • A fight breaks out in the pub ending with Drover breaking a suitcase over the head of the other man.
  • Fletcher hits Nullah and his mother
  • Sarah strikes Fletcher with a horsewhip
  • Flynn is trampled to death by cattle.
  • Fletcher hits Carney over the head with a rifle. He falls into the water and is taken by a crocodile.
  • The bombing of Darwin includes many explosions, and people being injured (nothing too graphic).
  • Drover’s brother-in-law is shot by the Japanese.
  • Fletcher shoots at Nullah
  • Nullah’s grandfather, King George (David Gulpilil) spears Fletcher.

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 in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Lord Ashley’s horse falls into the water
  • Lord Ashley’s dead body is shown lying on a bed
  • Nullah’s father Fletcher is cruel and indifferent to him and his mother
  • Nullah and his mother Daisy hide in a rainwater tank which is filling up with water and Daisy is drowned
  • Nullah stands close to the edge of a cliff, facing stampeding cattle.
  • a kangaroo is shot
  • a dead kangaroo is thrown over the roof of a car
  • many dead cattle are shown.
  • King George and Nullah display some mystic/spiritual powers, which could frighten some children.
  • Flynn is shown talking as he is dying – his face is puffed up and bloody
  • the authorities separate Nullah from Sarah Ashley
  • intense war scenes

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 may also be disturbed by some of 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 may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes, particularly those in which Nullah is threatened and in danger and some of the war 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 in this age group may also find some of the above scenes upsetting.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • A brief sex scene between Sarah and Drover. No full nudity.
  • A man is shown naked from behind.

Use of substances

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

  • Frequent drinking of alcohol.
  • Smoking

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • bloody
  • bastard
  • fucking (once)

In a nutshell

Australia is an epic romantic adventure story. It contains a stellar cast of Australian actors and is set in some beautiful and dramatic landscapes.
The main messages from this movie are that we should correct the errors of the past and promote racial harmony.
Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • respect for Aboriginal culture
  • tolerance and acceptance of others
  • courage and determination
  • strength of character

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • violence as a way of solving problems
  • racism

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